For those who have a passion for
engineering and a desire to be their own boss, starting an engineering firm can
be an attractive option. Being a great engineer, however, does not
automatically equate to being a great manager or a successful business owner. The
business owner is responsible for all aspects of the enterprise, even work done
by others that may not fall under the owner’s areas of expertise.
Wanting to work for oneself and create
something of value from scratch is an admirable goal. To do it successfully
requires forethought, preparation and soul-searching. The following tips can
help guide a budding entrepreneur toward success in the engineering space.
Sharpen business skills
Being passionate about engineering is
important, but a business owner must also understand all the nuts and bolts of business
operation and take on many responsibilities, including some that have little to
do with engineering.
Know the customers
Thoroughly research the company’s potential
customers to determine who they are and what they need. Use that information to
create a value proposition, which is a statement that clearly and specifically
outlines what the company has to offer them. The value proposition should focus
on how the company solves a problem or fulfills the needs of the customer,
rather than simply outlining a list of products and services. The more specific
the customer information, the more refined and meaningful the statement will be.
Assess the competition
How does the company stack up against what
is already available in the marketplace? Identify what this new venture offers
that makes it unique and valuable to customers. Understand all the areas in
which the company has an edge and where it is disadvantageous to compete.
Create a solid business plan
A detailed business plan is like a
blueprint for the company. It pinpoints strengths and weaknesses, opportunities
and obstacles, and assets and liabilities. To be useful, however, the business
plan must be honest and create a realistic picture of all business activities
and responsibilities. In addition to the areas already mentioned, the business
plan details specifics in several key areas.
- Finance — what funding sources are available and how much money is needed to
invest in the business and sustain it through tough times
- Operations — day-to-day tasks and how they will be managed
- Sales — how the company will bring in business and handle customer accounts
- Marketing — what the company’s message is and the plan to communicate that
message, including networking and social media
- Human resources — what positions need to be filled, how people will be hired and
managed, and what salaries and benefits will be offered
Maximize engineering expertise
Engineers actually do have several traits
in common with entrepreneurs. Both are skilled at overcoming obstacles in order
to solve complex problems, while assessing risks and making necessary
Have the necessary credentials
A new engineering company will have to prove
itself. As the business develops a track record of success, gaining the trust
of new clients becomes easier, but at the start it is vital to have credentials
and a credible background. An engineering degree and relevant experience
demonstrate competency and engender trust.
Secure the necessary assets
Identify all the tools and resources required
to complete the work associated with the services offered and develop a plan to
acquire them. Be sure to include everything from equipment and office supplies
to software and personnel.
Be the boss
Starting one’s own business offers potential rewards such as increased autonomy and greater financial reward. It also comes with risk and pressure to succeed. For those who are ready and willing to balance the two, the rewards can be substantial. If this sounds appealing, starting an engineering business may be just the right move.
Written by Amy J. Born
Article Sponsored by Digi-Key Electronics