‘Being an architect is not as romantic as the movies make it seem so you have to be passionate about your work” – isn’t that what we tell those who ask? So in search of passion and inspiration, I set off on an unchartered course to take control of my destiny, selectively choose the projects that I would work on and devote the better part of my daily life to doing something that would inspire me to make a difference. Someone likely told me that it wouldn’t be easy but like most entrepreneurs, I was driven and determined not to be one of the small businesses that statistically fail in the first year so head down, I pushed on. I had a niche market, a business plan and my first client – what else could I need? As it turns out, getting a business license and hanging my shingle was the easy part.
Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, mompreneurs, consultants, freelancers – no matter the title on the business card, the challenge is enormous, the reward, respect and satisfaction can’t be beat but the risks that you have to take to create the time and personal freedoms to chase your dream can at times be too great to bear. Oh and not to add to the pressure but economists say that apparently it’s up to us to turn things around!
I make it through another day with the help of mentors, great business coaches, and “how to” classes but personally I’ve gained the most from networking and sharing resources with other *preneurs. I feel fortunate to have a large network of consultants, technicians and suppliers to reach out to but short of going through the Association’s directory line by line, I haven’t found an easy way to reach out to other architects. As the opportunities for work shrink, I find myself competing with “The Big Guys” and wishing that I had a way to connect with other small practitioners. Does my niche complement yours? Can we share plotting accounts to qualify for volume discounts? Can we share office space or Cad Technicians? Who’s going to the annual conference? Does someone have access to a boardroom where we could have a lunch and learn – I really miss those! I’ve created a virtual place for us to meet through an online community for small business owners, called Biznik. If you’d like to have informal discussions about how to survive and/or enjoy the path that we’ve chosen, post informal/formal events of interest to our unique community, go for coffee and ask questions without being bound by legislation, mandates or duty, sign up online for the Vancouver Design Professionals group. I hope that this will give us all the added support that we need to fulfill our dreams.