Starting your own business is no easy feat. In fact, some estimates suggest that around one-third of new companies will fail within their first year of operation, and the bad news is that it doesn’t get any easier from here. In fact, the rate of failure increases to half of all companies by the end of the second year, and a huge three-quarters by the third.
Understandably, feeling like you’re going against the grind might put you off the idea of starting your own engineering company. After all, if so many businesses are likely to fail, why wouldn’t yours?
The good news is that with the right strategies, you can turn your engineering consulting startup into a resounding success; you just need to know how to do it. As a business owner, you need a vibrant mix of ingredients in the recipe for success, including talent, passion, and business know-how.
Why Start an Engineering Consultancy?
Why start your own engineering consultancy when you could easily settle into a regular engineering job and avoid the risk of business failure? For most people who take the leap, the answer is autonomy. When you start your own engineering company, you not only get to work in the industry that you’ve always wanted to, but you get more control over the work that you do. Unlike in employment, where you have to do what your boss asks of you, starting an engineering consultancy means that you’re your own boss and you get to decide which projects to take. As a result, you’ve got a better chance of following your engineering passions and do what you really want to do.
Of course, the main trade-off for being able to have this level of flexibility and freedom is the pressure that comes with running a consultancy. If you don’t deliver what you promise, you’re going to lose clients and business. But, if you’re the type of person that thrives under this kind of pressure, the sense of achievement will be worth it.
Another aspect, of course, is the money. Many engineering business owners discover that they can certainly earn more running their own consultancy firm compared to working as a company employee.
So, what does it take to run a successful engineering consultancy firm?
Know Who You Are and What You Offer
The term ‘value proposition’ refers to what you have to offer that differentiates you from everybody else. It is your value proposition that tells your clients what they can expect when working with you and will define your company’s value, which you can then use in branding efforts. Understanding your value proposition is important because it’s key to attracting new clients. First, work out what you have to offer the market, and figure out whether there is a niche for your company to enter.
Your value proposition should be defined before you put together a business plan for your engineering consultancy firm. It could be a number of things, including:
- Experience and expertise in the engineering field
- Providing superior customer service
- Using technologies not offered by other firms
Understand What You Need
Engineering stretches across a wide range of disciplines. For example:
- Mechanical engineers
- Civil engineers
- Electrical engineers
There’s a reason for this; each type of engineer needs a variety of different tools in order to do a good job. As an engineering consultancy firm, it’s likely that you will see various projects right from design and planning through to prototyping and completion.
Early in the process, you’ll need to figure out what you need in order to successfully do the work you set out to do, and where to get it. For example, you may need to spend some time researching where you can buy digital design software to create models or 3D printing equipment for prototypes.
It’s also worth considering if you have everything that you need in terms of running and managing your business. If you don’t have any previous experience of running your own business, it’s worth considering getting some additional education, such as a degree in engineering management from Kettering University Online – the linked article explains the many advantages of such a qualification.
Create a Business Plan
Once you have the early planning out of the way and have determined what you need and what you are going to offer, you will need to put together a business plan for your engineering consulting firm. This is a detailed outline of what your business does and the plans that you have in place to achieve your goals.
First, begin by looking at what you have and how this can be used to help you achieve your goals. Be realistic about your starting point and consider any competition that you are likely to face along the way. Bear in mind that at first, competing against the established, well-known names in your industry might not be possible, so you should focus on smaller projects until you have established your business further and developed a strong reputation in the industry.
No matter what stage of starting your business you are at, it’s never too early to start making connections with influential people within the engineering industry. You can begin building your network from the moment you decide to start your own engineering consultancy business; you don’t have to have started your business to start networking. Consider:
- Attending local and national industry events where you can get in touch with people who may be able to provide you with opportunities.
- Talk to people of all professional backgrounds on networking sites like LinkedIn; you never know who might have opportunities available for you.
- Follow up with any connections that you make to show that you’re taking the interaction seriously and are open to any further discussions about business. Constant communication and seeking out new connections are crucial to landing your first clients and getting your business off the ground.
If you want to be your own boss and are an experienced engineer, starting your own engineering consulting firm may be an ideal option for you. Before you get started, keep these tips in mind to build a strong foundation for success.