Tips for starting an engineering firm
April 4, 2020

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 adjustments.

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

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