Tips for survival…by Architect Mark Stephens

Great Article by ‘Mark Stephens RIBA MRIAI at

Following my Tweet ‘I refuse to participate in any recession’ I thought I’d give a few tips that may help other architects and designery types claw their way out of the ‘black hole of doom’:

Doing the best you possibly can do and forget about the money

The first thing you need to do is to provide the best service you possibly can – if you don’t your client will go elsewhere.

Bend over backwards to help your client – if you don’t somebody else will.

Don’t constantly think about money. It’s a bit like girlfriends (and boyfriends); you’ll never get one when you’re desperate, relax, don’t think about the money and the jobs will come in – nobody wants someone desperate and constantly looking for money.

Now think about the money !

Batten down the hatches

Work is going to be harder to get – but it is out there! The trick is not spending thousands on trying to get the smaller number of projects that are available. The three expenditures that will cripple your business are:

a. Staff

Pare down and don’t be afraid of letting staff go. I realise that it’s very difficult emotionally to let people go but the alternative is for the business to fail and nobody has got a job. Always remember that you can always rehire when things have picked up.

b. Overheads

The biggest fixed overhead will be your premises. See if you can rent somewhere cheaper or try to renegotiate your rent, or do as I did (even before the recession kicked in) work from home. I bet you’d be surprised how many businesses could effectively work from a home office; you could even set up a showroom in one of the rooms !

You also need to cut back your expenditure on the nice items you once bought pre-recession; do you really need that new laptop (or iPad Mark!), what about that new camera you promised yourself ? Or how about that new car you used to get every year. Things are tough and cut backs will need to be made.; think first about whether the expense is essential, make do with what you have and wait a little longer ?

c. Marketing

In a recession, everybody wants a bit of your money with the promise that it’s essential for your business if you want to survive. FALSE – you need to think very smart about how you spend the money you have. There are a million different ways of spending money on marketing and PR and an equal number of ways of throwing that money away. I’m not saying that you should hide your head in the sand; just be smart about how you spend your money; the days of throwing it away are over.

A bit more on marketing:

You now need to think like a Guerilla when it comes to marketing your business. Think about the money you have and the imaginative, clever and cost-effective ways of getting your name out there without a big-spend. There are million ways of doing this, you just need to think smart and put your marketing hat on.

I’m sorry if all of this financial stuff is getting a bit boring but nows the time to apply your creativity in finding the work that’s out there.

Another boring bit:

In order to survive therefore you need to have a good track on finances. I am lucky to be married to an accountant and each week we have financial meetings to discuss where the business is going, new and old clients, how much money is being spent, where is the money going etc.. (who says romance is dead !). But in order to survive you need to know EXACTLY what you are spending and where it’s going.


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Filed under Blogging, Brand, Branding, business, Economy, Financial Planning, FreshThinking, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, overhead, Survival

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