If you’re a licensed civil engineer with special knowledge in a particular area of design, you should consider running your own shop. Civil engineers who are experienced in certain subsections of the practice such as structural, geotechnical or utility coordination can be in demand as subconsultants to small civil design firms that don’t have the sufficient staff. If you’ve ever considered opening your own practice, here are things to know.
Small Business Enterprise Certification
Many public infrastructure authorities such as city agencies and transportation departments have small or disadvantaged business enterprise programs in place. They’ve established a requirement that a certain percentage of their contracts are executed by small firms that are owned by women, minorities, veterans or other underrepresented groups. Look into officially registering as a small business to open up opportunities for partnership in working on government contracts.
Before you figure out office space, you need to be prepared to deliver work product independently. For civil engineers, this often includes critical design software and certain equipment, such as large-scale printers. Many engineers generate construction drawings through the use of computer aided drafting or CAD software. Reach out to an expert on Autodesk Miami for CAD solutions. You’ll also need to think about tools to help you keep track of your accounting and bookkeeping.
As a practice leader or expert, you’ll likely have built up a network of people who are familiar with your experience and areas of knowledge. It’s important to maintain these relationships and expand your network if you’re going out on your own. Reputation and repeat business are keys to long term success. It’s important to let your clients and past partners know that you’re going to do your own thing. Leveraging these existing relationships is the foundation to a successful enterprise.
Starting your own small design firm can be very exciting and lucrative. With great reward comes great risk. Setting yourself up by leveraging your relationship and taking care of essential details can start you off on the right path.