8 years and 8 months is average time, post qualification, to go it alone
Architects tend to set up their own practice eight years and eight months on average after qualification, according to new research by small business insurance broker, PolicyBee. The findings are taken from a recent survey carried out amongst over a hundred architects who run small businesses in the UK with 10 or fewer employees. The research is intended to help others in the industry understand the thought processes and planning that is required to go it alone in this field.
While eight years and 8 months is the average time it takes, post-qualification, for architects to set up in business on their own, a brave 13% do so immediately.
Architects and those in related fields, spend an average of 3 years and 8 months ‘seriously planning’ their new venture before actually leaving employment but over a third (39%) admit to being more knee jerk and jump ship just a year or less after having had the idea.
Kerri-Ann Hockley, Head of Customer Service, who commissioned the survey for PolicyBee said: “These findings throw out the traditional school of thought which was that most architects set up their own practice later in life. They’re actually doing it much earlier, in their early to mid-thirties”.
Other findings from the research:
58% of architects go in to the profession with the intention of setting up their own business.
Architects are a contented bunch: two thirds (67%) are happy with their decision to set up their own practice. Only eight per cent would advise others not to follow suit. A quarter are indifferent.
Half of architects have no finances available to them when they start their own business. Of those who do, 64% rely on their own savings and 13% have a redundancy payout.
With this in mind, many architects make sure that they have clients lined up before starting their new venture. 1.8 was the average number of clients that architects have in the bag but some have as many as 5-10. Just under a quarter had none.
Building good foundations
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor is a new architects’ practice. The average business-owner puts in nearly 40 hours per week, which is around 2 hours more per week than when they were employed.
Highs and lows of being an architect
Experts in their field but with lessons to learn in the running of a business, 91% of architects confessed to experiencing some hurdles when they first set up:
Winning business while simultaneously looking after current clients is an issue that concerns most.
Managing finances (such as invoicing, tax accounting etc) is the next biggest challenge reported.
Adjusting to not having a regular salary each month is a change some architects struggle with.
However, overwhelmingly, architects enjoy running their own business (99%) because they have:
the flexibility to work when and where they want to
the satisfaction that they’re doing a good job for their clients
a sense of being in control
the ability to be selective about types of work
a better work life balance (despite working longer hours)
Only 8% said they enjoy running their own business because they are better paid than before.
Kerri-Ann Hockley continued: “Setting up on your own isn’t for the faint-hearted in any line of work and architects are no exception. Knowing your field doesn’t guarantee success. To run a small practice profitably, you need to get your head around things like accounts, HR and marketing.
And because you offer a professional service to clients, you’re at risk of negligence claims. So you also need professional indemnity insurance. The ARB requires architects to have it anyway, but as policies vary, make sure you’ve got cover that’s right for your particular practice”.
PolicyBee’s series of useful content for architects can be found at: https://www.policybee.co.uk/blog/category/professionoccupation/architects