Starting an Engineering Firm

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You might be excited about joining the construction industry as an independent builder. Sure, it can give you both personal and financial freedom. But how do you deal with the hard realities of being on your own?

To help you get prepared, we have come up with some tips and advice to guide you in starting your own construction business.

Do you have what it takes to start your own engineering business? Starting a company and working for yourself may sound an exciting idea. On your own, you don’t have to meet the demands of other people, you can work short or long hours, you can spend time more with your family and go on vacation without asking anyone to approve your leave. But going into the entrepreneurial field requires a lot of preparation, planning, sacrifices and positive thinking.

Becoming a Freelance Engineer -- Reality Check

Here are the hard facts that someone thinking of becoming a freelance engineer/contractor must face:

It is hard work out there. While anyone can start a business, it would take years to establish a reputation. For a startup company, it means working hard to snag contracts, and making sure you please clients so that word of your good service spreads around.

Pay day is not a fix day. One of the hardest realities that someone working as a contractor must accept is: while a contract is a contract, he can’t really pin down the day when he gets paid. Invoices payable to contractors can get paid in weeks or months. He might even encounter some bouncing checks.

You become responsible for someone else. If you have people working for you, you not only become responsible whether your workers eat, but whether their families eat as well. If you have a number of workers, multiply that number by at least two.

Engineering Firm Startup Tips

If these facts didn’t deter you, here are some tips on how to start your own building company:

  • Secure a professional license - A license is needed to start a building company. Check with your states the requirements needed to obtain a license.
  • Check competition in your area - How many similar firms are already established in your place? Does it still have room for yours? What are their strengths and weaknesses and what can you offer that they don’t? Specialize on a particular field.
  • Partner with other engineers - You can benefit from the expertise of other professionals by working with them. Plus, you can save on costs by sharing the bill with someone. Another cost saving tip: run it from your home.
  • Establish your marketing strategy - Marketing is often a difficult matter to deal for engineers, more often just because they just didn’t think much of it. Determine ways you could meet and establish the right people for the business. And don’t forget the power of advertisement, especially the word-of-mouth kind. Don’t skimp on helping out others professionally. The favor could be returned one way or another.
  • Employ the expertise of other professionals - You might be an expert in building and designing but you could need legal and financial advice from an accountant and a lawyer. While this could mean another expense, getting the proper advice on how to take care of legal and financial matters could translate to cost savings in the long run.
  • Consider getting liability insurance - You are accountable for failures of projects and you would need protection against the risk of the resulting damage to people and properties.
  • Get advice from people who have been in the business - Seek out those who are in the same industry, but are not operating in your area of competition. Most of them are glad to help as long as you don’t take away their clients.
  • Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Learn from them.

8 Comments

  • 1. Manasseh Duamor said on 8/6/2009 8:17:30 AM
    so it begins with getting a license and how do you get that if may be you have a BSc degree
  • 2. Barton T. Peters said on 5/27/2010 6:45:06 PM
    Eventually, I'd like to start up an MPE firm. Would I be good at it? What kind of skills would I need? How do I learn what I need to learn? I've worked as an Electrical Engineer for an architecture firm for the past 5 years in Los Angeles, and I have my PE and LEED certifications. Any advice?
  • 3. arvind kumar said on 6/10/2011 1:57:48 PM
    hiii.,,.. I want to know about wine industry & food processing industry what is the scope in future. tell me about its license all requirement at small level
  • 4. sumit nath said on 6/28/2011 5:22:48 AM
    I want to start my own Engineering firm. I am diploma civil engg. 2years working experience in construction. So plz tell me whats that procedure starting the firm & how to make license....
  • 5. johannes said on 11/4/2013 11:10:52 AM
    i'm an electrical contractor we are johannesburg south africa. we do new electrical installation, medium voltage, issue COC, maintenance
  • 6. Mbo said on 6/15/2014 6:05:48 PM
    Hi please advice me I am NDip Electrical Engineering with 5 years experience in doing electrical construction of MV lines LV lines and Transformers doing the electrification of rulal areas, I already registered my company so now I want to know what next in order for my company get on game?
  • 7. Dafe said on 3/13/2015 1:36:36 PM
    I am an electrical electronics engineer with a B.eng degree...I wish to start up a diesel generator servicing company in Nigeria...What are the licenses and how do I go about starting it up to a level of recognition ?...
  • 8. Lukas said on 1/2/2017 2:55:47 PM
    Pls I want to start electrical contractor business, I need market strategy for that and also the required capital
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