Looking to start your own engineering firm? Here’s what you should know first.
Author, Tony Gaskins, once said “If you don’t build your own dreams someone will hire you to build theirs.” And for many, being their own boss is a dream in and of itself. Choosing when, where and who you work with has many advantages. But of course, in starting a business poses monumental challenges, and being the big boss isn’t for everyone.
If you’re an engineer looking to go it alone by starting your own engineering consultancy firm, for the first time, there are certain things you need to consider and competencies (outside of your normal career remit) that you’ll either need to develop or hire! So here’s what you should be aware of.
Establish legitimacy and authority
One of the biggest challenges you will face starting out is the fact that your company is an unknown entity. Businesses will, understandably, be reluctant to risk giving work to your firm rather than the great many competitors who have been longer established and have already proven themselves.
Assuming you’re not establishing the business straight from university, your first port of call should be to make it known to colleagues and previous clients that you have gone into business for yourself, as these people could be your very first clients.
Other ways to improve your perceived legitimacy are to invest in a professional website and to sign up for any applicable engineering registrations. Don’t forget to set up LinkedIn for your business and keep other social media channels in order.
Learn to take care of the books
As an engineer it’s likely you’re pretty good with numbers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good with money. The first few years in business are usually tough financially, which means that recruiting the help of a good accountant, can be a life saver that allows you to focus on the sides of the business you know more about.
That being said, as the boss it’s vital that you develop a thorough understanding of things like cash flow, quoting and how to spend effectively. Teambuilding.com has a list of their favourite books to learn business finance.
Recruit the best
Unless it’s your prerogative to stay a sole trader, sooner or later you’re going to want to consider hiring engineers, managers, and various other team members to help your business grow. As the old cliché goes ‘human resources are a company’s most important resource because they control all other company resources.
When it comes to finding the right people for your business, the advantages of finding the right recruiting partner cannot be understated. Dedicated specialist recruiters can work with you, highlighting exactly what you need and find those people. Freeing your business up to do what it does best.
Know your value
As an engineer, the phrase ‘value proposition’ might sound like a silly buzzword only used by people who went to business school. However, understanding your business’ proposition exactly, will help you market yourself, find new business and ultimately succeed.
So it’s important from the outset to establish exactly what your value proposition is. In essence, why do you think clients should choose to work with you above all of your competitors? Are you cheaper, better, faster or maybe all three and some more? For more help putting yours together check these helpful tools out.
Plan, plan, plan
Finally, and frankly most importantly, put together a business plan. Even if you’ve been working in the industry for someone else for decades, a business plan is that crucial tool that allows you to strategise and attract investors.
It might seem like a waste of time, however, small businesses that have formal business plans do 30% better than those that do not, which is not a margin to be sniffed at.
If you’re looking for more help writing a business plan, the prince’s trust has some great resources to help put one together. While the charity is aimed at helping young people, this information is applicable for all.
Whether you’re just setting out in your own engineering firm, or you’ve been established for some time. Hunter Selection is the UK’s leading specialist recruitment agency. Click here to find out how we can help you.