How to Start an Architecture Firm

The architecture industry is estimated to reach nearly $60 billion in 2023. You may be drawn to this industry to take your own slice of this profitable job market. Are you wondering how to start an architecture firm? You must follow critical steps like creating a portfolio, registering your business, and acquiring the correct architecture insurance to boost your income.

How to Start an Architecture Firm

Do you want to know how to start an architecture firm? Before you get your business up and running, you must follow steps like choosing a name and deciding what business structure you need. 


Secure Funds

Prioritize funding first if you don’t have ample capital to start an architecture firm. Of course, we understand you don’t want to borrow from friends or family. Here are some of the most professional ways to do this:

  • Crowdfunding: You can try crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms will raise money for you by working with numerous investors. You may not need to shoulder any debt by doing this. A crowdfunding platform to consider is EquityNet, which helps entrepreneurs raise anywhere from $10,000 to $10,000,000 to start their new businesses!

  • SBA Loans: The Smal Business Association has 7 (a) loan programs. These are funded by partner lending institutions that offer reasonable interests. Approach the SBA if you need a business loan rather than from banks and other financing channels.

  • Business loan: If you’re not afraid to take the risk, a business loan is the best course of action.  Of course, online lending platforms provide the quickest funds with minimum requirements. Consider Uplyft that can help you get up to $5 million dollars of funding extremely fast (as little as 4 hours!!!): Apply for loan now.

Choose Your Name

So you want to learn how to start an architect business? The first step is deciding your DBA or “doing business as” name. Choose a name that is unique but simple enough to be easily understood. You want a name your customers can spell so it is easier for them to find you online. Check your Secretary of State’s website to see what names are already registered so you don’t choose one too similar to a potential competing architecture firm.


Legally Register Your Business

A critical step in researching how to start your own architecture firm is to decide your business structure. Typical business structures you can organize include:

  • Sole proprietorship: Your sole proprietorship is one of the easiest business structures to set up. With a sole proprietorship, you control your business and get all the profits. The downside is that you must also contend with business liabilities, lawsuits, and debts out of your own pocket.

  • Corporation: A corporation is a more complicated and costly business structure that offers its shareholder-owners business liability protection. Shareholders get paid in the form of dividends, which are taxed on top of business profits. With a corporate structure, you can issue stocks to fund the business, though you must follow more rules than other business structures.

  • Limited liability company: A limited liability company gives you liability protection like a corporation without the dividend tax. Limited liability companies can be owned by one or multiple people. LLC owners are called members and can be individuals or other companies. You can form an LLC in all 50 states.

Create A Portfolio

Creating a portfolio is essential when learning how to start a architectural design business. Your portfolio should showcase the highlights of projects you have previously worked on. You will want to include documents from every stage of the design and building process. An architectural portfolio is your first impression for potential clients and companies to evaluate your skills and creativity. You should prepare a sample portfolio that is a quick read for people to see and a full portfolio professionally laid out with every detail.


Get an EIN

Getting an employer identification number (EIN) is a critical step in your journey of how to start own architecture firm. An EIN is a nine-digit federal tax ID number required to open a business bank account for hiring employees. You can apply online at the IRS website for free. The application will ask you about your business structure and activities. You must provide an address and similar information about your business.


Create a Business Bank Account

Do you want to know another step of how to start an architecture company? A business bank account will be necessary to keep your personal and business finances private. You can also use a business bank account to take out loans to help you pay for your starting costs. Below is a comparison of different business bank account options.

Business account Benefits Drawbacks
Checking Unlimited withdrawals, pay bills, receive invoices, make money transfers Must maintain a minimum balance, more fees than a personal checking account
Savings Earn interest on profits by storing it with the bank Limited withdrawals and transfers
Money market Gain interest on your business profits, higher returns than a savings account Variable interest rates mean you aren’t always making the same interest
Merchant services Process credit and debit card transactions for your customers High transaction fees, have to deal with chargebacks and scams


Create a Website

The decision to create a website is critical when learning how to set up an architecture firm. Your website is your digital billboard to attract potential customers, employees, and business partners. You want to create a website to widen your brand visibility and establish credibility. Many customers research a company or business online before buying their products or services. The steps to start a website include:

  • Buy a domain name: You must purchase the rights to use a unique web address. You can buy a domain name from a service like GoDaddy or Google Domains.

  • Hire a web host: Web hosts store your webpage data on physical servers and regulate website traffic. People will not access your site without a web host to hold your data. You could try web hosting yourself, but using a web hosting provider is more efficient and easier.

  • Design the site: You can design the website by using a free or affordable service like Wix. Alternatively, you could hire a web designer to ensure your web page has all the features you want without you having to design it yourself.

  • Add content: Your website should be filled with content people want to see. This will help you be discovered on search engines. Your site should answer common questions about your architecture firm and have your portfolio available for people to see.

Identify The Customers You Want to Appeal To

The next step in how to start your architecture business is to identify your target customers. You cannot appeal to everyone, nor should you want to. Creating a brand identity that aims to solve problems certain customers’ problems is more effective. For example, you could position your brand to offer lower prices on offering sketches, models, or renderings to get people interested in your company. Alternatively, you could go after a customer who is looking for quality and willing to pay more.


Build Your Team

When learning how to set up an architecture practice, you need to put some forethought into the employees you will need to hire. You should be prepared to hire other architects as you expand to take on more clients at once. You will want to hire managers to ensure project deliverables are being executed according to your stands. Project architects oversee the process from start to finish, even if it is passed to different team members. Ensure you are hiring licensed architects who have obtained a license from your state’s board of architecture. Most state boards follow standards set by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). These standards include:

  • Acquiring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field

  • Passing a national architecture exam.

  • 3,740 hours of experience working with a licensed architect at a legally practicing architecture firm

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How to Run an Architecture Firm

Are you interested in learning how to run an architecture firm? You must follow several steps to run a successful firm, like increasing your social connections and ensuring you follow industry trends.


Invest in Software

CRM and payroll software allow your architecture firm to automate administrative and technical tasks. Your business can thrive quickly by automating things as it reduces the likelihood of costly delays. 

Use OnPay to process payroll fast.  OnPay helps you process payroll and tax filings easily. You only pay $40 per month for this handy tool. By clicking here, you can try it out for free for one month!

Allow employees to synchronize their tasks using Bloom. Bloom allows you to track projects, sign legal papers, and do other important matters for business growth. This doesn’t cost much. The best part is that Bloom offers a 1-month free trial and by clicking here and signing up, you’re also able to start a free trial and then have 15% off your first 12 months!


Implement Strategies to Keep Things on Track

When learning how to start your architecture firm, you want to develop a solid strategy for managing your time at an architecture firm. Unlike working for someone else, your work doesn’t end at the same time every day. You must devise a schedule to keep you and your team on track to draft projects and attend important client meetings. It can be difficult initially, but with experience, you will figure out the right scheduling for great efficiency and project turnaround.


Increase Your Network and Connections

Are you wondering how to open your own architectural firm and run it successfully? If so, you should build a network of like-minded professionals, business owners, friends, and clients to help you expand and grow. A robust connection network can be a passive way to expand your reach. You never know when someone in your network needs an architect. You can also gain experience and information about project openings and new technology if you stay connected with other architects.


Ramp Up Social Media Marketing

The number of Americans actively using social media increases yearly. Pew Research estimates that 72% of people actively use social media, but some sources put that number as high as 90%. Your marketing strategy should incorporate posting content and interacting with customers on social media. If social media is where your customers are, then that’s where you need to be too.


Invest in Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the method used to increase your website’s ranking on search engines. With SEO, you can spend less money on paying for ads because your website will generate organic traffic. You will publish easy-to-read content on your site that addresses the keywords your target customer is searching for. The goal is that a potential customer’s web search will lead them to your site and convert into a sale.


Keep Current on Architecture Trends

Architectural trends will shift every year, so you want to have your finger on the pulse for new trends to run a successful architecture firm. Even if you specialize in more traditional architectural styles, you will want to keep up with technological changes. For example, 3D printing allows for higher levels of creativity in a project. Also, ss the world becomes more environmentally conscious, you may feel pressured to design eco-friendly projects from sustainable materials. 

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How Much Do Architects Make?

As an architect, you will make an average of $86,835 annually. The typical range of annual salaries for architects is between $54,000 and $137,000. You will make $41.65 hourly on average as an architect. The salary for entry-level architects is around $54,000 annually on average. Depending on your location, the average salary will change. Below is a comparison of each state’s average salaries for architects.

State Average Annual Salary Average Hourly Rate
Alabama $83,964 $40.37
Alaska $125,375 $60.28
Arizona $77,091 $37.06
Arkansas $73,719 $35.44
California $100,716 $48.42
Colorado $93,361 $44.89
Connecticut $86,838 $41.75
Delaware $73,346 $35.31
Florida $78,266 $37.63
Georgia $87,170 $41.91
Hawaii $88,708 $42.65
Idaho $73,360 $35.27
Illinois $86,385 $41.53
Indiana $73,920 $35.54
Iowa $68,775 $33.06
Kansas $87,282 $41.96
Kentucky $66,340 $31.89
Louisiana $79,170 $38.06
Maine $75,319 $36.21
Maryland $94,435 $45.40
Massachusetts $99,764 $47.96
Michigan $76,415 $36.74
Minnesota $84,334 $40.55
Mississippi $74,435 $35.79
Missouri $91,354 $43.92
Montana $76,551 $36.80
Nebraska $94,462 $45.90
Nevada $97,524 $46.89
New Hampshire $97,828 $47.03
New Jersey $75,453 $36.28
New Mexico $91,449 $43.97
New York $89,375 $42.97
North Carolina $78,217 $37.60
North Dakota $81,067 $38.97
Ohio $84,111 $40.44
Oklahoma $79,386 $38.17
Oregon $92,241 $44.35
Pennsylvania $87,563 $42.10
Rhode Island $86,306 $41.49
South Carolina $83,997 $40.38
South Dakota $97,658 $46.95
Tennessee $91,600 $44.04
Texas $83,234 $40.02
Utah $88,899 $42.74
Vermont $85,381 $41.05
Virginia $101,062 $48.59
Washington $90,554 $43.54
West Virginia $90,853 $43.68
Wisconsin $78,468 $37.73
Wyoming $75,693 $36.39

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

Insurance coverage is necessary to protect and boost your income from your architecture firm. Without insurance to protect you against lawsuits and other devastating costs, you may lose potential income you otherwise might have saved. Below are the recommended insurance policies for architecture firms.


Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy combines general liability coverage and commercial property insurance. It also typically includes business interruption insurance, which helps you with costs related to your business needing to shut down. Since you can combine many policies with a  business owner’s policy, it is considered one of the most comprehensive options.

NEXT is our top pick for purchasing a business owner’s policy. They have great coverage options for your general liability and commercial property considerations. You also get business interruption insurance with their policy. NEXT is an online-based insurer that offers some of the lowest insurance premium options. They have an A- rating with AM Best and a B+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.


General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects your architecture business from third-party claims. The policy typically covers bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims. Thimble is our top pick for this insurance policy. With Thimble, you can set your policy duration down to the day or hour. You can purchase short-term general liability insurance to cover the length of a project. Thimble has sold over 200,000 policies. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance covers claims related to business errors. If you fail to fulfill a contract, you might be sued for negligence. This policy covers negligence lawsuits and other claims like copyright infringement and slander. Hiscox is an excellent choice for professional liability insurance. They offer tailored policies specialized for your unique industry needs. The company delivers excellent customer service and a personal touch rare in the insurance industry. Hiscox has an A rating for financial strength from AM Best.


Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance protects your building, equipment, materials, and supplies from physical damage. Typically your policy will cover causes like fire, theft, vandalism, and more. CoverWallet is our recommended pick for this policy. They let you compare options with different insurance companies. You can manage all your policies and stats from a convenient mobile app with a slick dashboard. CoverWallet has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance protects vehicles used for work activities. You must have this coverage if you must meet a client or transport employee. It also protects your vehicles from damage and can help you replace them. Tivly is an excellent insurance platform to pick for this policy. They have a vast selection of over 200 insurance partners to choose from. After a quick call with information about your architecture firm, you get matched to the right policy and insurer. Tivly has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Workers’ Compensation Insurance

A worker’s compensation policy is required once you start hiring employees in most states. This policy pays for medical costs like treatments and checkups for injured employees. It will also supplement employees’ lost income when they miss work due to an illness or injury. If you need workers comp, choose The Hartford. The company has a ”nurse back to health” program. This program ensures your employees get coordinated treatment at all times of their recovery. This company is a long-standing insurer with over 200 years of underwriting experience. They have a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index. AM Best has given The Hartford an A- rating. They also have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

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