Successful vs Mediocre Architects

What separates a successful from a mediocre architecture business? How do you determine if your business is going well? What should you focus on to have growth? And what are the important things that are must-haves in a successful architecture practice? These are some of the questions we’ll be answering today.  

To help us answer these questions we are joined by Mark R. LePage, founder of EntreArchitect and Gabl Media. Mark has been a thought leader in entrepreneurship education for architects for over a decade. Mark is also a residential architect located in Waxhaw, North Carolina. You will find an incredible number of resources on his website: https://entrearchitect.com/. Also, please tune in to a variety of podcasts specifically targeted at modern architecture professionals: https://gablmedia.com/  

How do you define a successful architect? 


We have to remember that architecture is a business and like any business, it needs profit to survive and thrive. At the beginning of their careers, most architects want to create art and change the world. 

And many do, by creating new and efficient buildings – a lot of them are pieces of art. However, at the end of the day, money is necessary for a professional to establish himself in the market. Having a profit – and a good one – allows for improvement, both in the business and the architect. 

So, it’s important to keep in mind: Business first, then create art. 

But… how to make a profit? 

First, you need to understand how money comes and goes in your business. It’s important to know what are the expenses that you will have, where your potential clients are and how to make your income flow efficiently. 

Start with identifying your Ideal Client. Who they are, where they are, what they are looking for, and – of course – the typical budgets and constraints they have. Do not be a generalist, focus on a type of client and specialize yourself.  

And once you have an ideal client? 

You need to build a brand. A brand that will resonate with them. They must see in you someone that understands exactly what they need and how they need it. 

You must also have a marketing system tailored for your ideal client, to drive them through a sale system and then a financial one. 

Branding. What is it, exactly? 

Brand is everything people think about you. It is not only your logo or the advertisements; it is all things related to you and your business from your portfolio to the way you make your contracts. 

It is important to keep your entire sale system simple for your client. Make sure that they understand what you are offering and how it makes you more attractive as a service provider. 

The website is exceptionally important here. It is about resonating with your client. Remember, however, the website is not about the firm, it’s about the client. 

Your website should have taglines for easy access and a clear layout, where the client can quickly identify how to contact you. It should also be easy for them to search and find info; either it is your portfolio, articles with helpful ideas, or any other information they may need. 

A good website will allow the client to self-qualify. 

In terms of Profit, what should you aim for? 

According to Mark, 20% is an ideal aim of profit for an architect. When you have profit, you can choose to invest it in whatever you want, be that education for yourself or growing your business by hiring new people. 

In order to do that, planning your budget is essential. Put together an annual budget at the beginning of the year. Project how much you bring in and how much you expect to spend. 

Make a profit plan, establish what you need to do to reach that objective. Check monthly your financial status to see if you are on the right path; make adjustments if necessary. 

It is a lot easier to determine these things when you have already decided on an ideal client.  

Some final tips… 

Make time to work ON your business, not only IN it. 

Mark states that it is important to build a one-page business plan. Determine a vision for the business and a mission. The vision is the big picture – what is your long-term aim. The mission is the WHY of the vision, the reason you are doing this.  

Next, create your set of goals and determine steps to be taken to achieve them.  

Mark recommends adding “Working ON the Business” appointments on your calendar, so every week you can reserve a time to make sure the steps are taken towards your goals. 

Keep in mind: This calendar time of the week should be as important for you as client meetings. It is easy to be busy, but it’s hard to be intentional when it comes to working ON your business. Choose the hard path, prioritize working on your business weekly and the results will compound into a successful practice over time.  

If you have questions or need help please reach out to us. ArchIT specializes
in providing IT services for architecture, design, and engineering firms.