How to Start an Engineering Company
The following is a brief summary of a previous episode of the Engineer Your Own Success Radio Show for engineers entitled How to Start an Engineering Company: Owning and Managing an Engineering Business Through a Tough Economy. Sorry the show is no longer available but notes are below:
During the latest session of my Engineer Your Own Success radio show I had the opportunity to interview Rick De La Guardia owner of DLG Engineering to find out not only how to start an engineering company, but how to run an engineering company that thrives in any economy.
To give you some background, Rick De La Guardia is founder of DLG Engineering, Inc., a structural consulting firm, whose goal is to educate and raise awareness of the importance of the proper design, review and installations of our nation’s building envelopes. He obtained his bachelors of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Miami and currently serves as president of the University of Miami College of Engineering Alumni Association.
Rick took a job in a very specific field of building envelope consulting out of college and when he realized that he wasn’t being compensated fairly for his abilities he left the company and started his own company.
Below are the questions in bold that I asked Rick as well as his responses directly below the question:
What are the most important attributes of a successful engineering business?
Self-Awareness: Understand your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses
Foresight: Be aware of coming trends both economically and in your field
Adaptability: Do not limit yourself or be afraid to grow or expand
Integrity: Never sacrifice quality for financial gain
Honesty: Always be upfront with your clients
What advice do you have on marketing for an engineering company?
Put yourself out there (Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Organizations, University and High School Alma Maters, Blog, and list your company on every free site available).
Network with people outside of your field or profession.
Keep people constantly informed of your progress and what you are working on.
As owner of an engineering company, how have you managed to not only survive but thrive in a down economy?
- Adapting and offering diverse services
- Providing discounted fees with the understanding that you are building a future working relationship
- Aggressive networking and marketing
- Relaxing on the terms and conditions of payment
- Finding a niche and researching and continually learning and staying atop of the trends and changes in that specific field
- Instilling a family like atmosphere and morale with employees and paying myself last
- Developing diverse contacts outside of my field
- Putting myself out there by writing and speaking to raise awareness of what we do and why we do it
- Giving back without asking for something in return just for the sake of self promotion
What are the pitfalls of owning an engineering firm in a tough economy?
- Collections and cash flow issues
- Delicate client relation issues
- Asking your employees to make sacrifices
- Dealing with creditors and obtaining loans
What is your unique insight and strategic plan?
I started my firm when many said it was crazy to do so. I knew that I was in a niche market and could offer no less or better quality than my competitors at a REDUCED rate due to having a smaller overhead. I also developed personal relationships with each client.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of starting an engineering company in tough times?
- Make sure you have a niche
- Be prepared to make sacrifices
- Assemble the RIGHT team and do not discount chemistry
- Have a financial backup plan to carry you through the tough times
- Pay yourself last
- Give your employees a say in the direction of the company and make them feel like it is a family
If you were looking for advice on how to start an engineering company, I hope this post provided it.
Helpful products related to this content:
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on owning and managing an engineering business through a tough economy.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success