Building an engineering company from the ground up is not the work of a moment. It takes time, discipline and a lot of hard work. However, this is not to say it is impossible and there are a number of strategies, principles and tips that can help assist your journey from start-up to profitable company.
As with any substantial project, it is easy to become overawed with the task ahead of you. There is certainly no shortage of challenges when you start a new business, or any promise of eventual success, and you can quickly make up excuses for quitting while you’re ahead. Instead, you must break each stage of the business-building process down into sizable chunks, so you can make sense of them and tackle each obstacle one at a time.
Here are five tips for building an engineering business from scratch:
1. Build on Your Existing Skill Set before Starting your Business:
One of the most important steps to take before starting your engineering business is to make sure your personal skill-set is up to the task of developing and running the company.
As with any start-up, when you start an engineering business, it will most likely be you operating it by yourself. This means that it isn’t good enough for you to be an accomplished engineer, because you will also have to deal with sales, accounts, finding investors and all manner of other tasks which will require a great deal of your attention.
Although you don’t have to be an expert in these areas, it is a sensible idea to learn how to undertake different business tasks effectively before you need to do them for real. You can do this by using the variety of online learning resources on offer, even if you just read an article, watch a video or complete an introductory course. The more you can develop a varied business skill-set, the easier it will be for you to build your company quickly.
Of course, you may argue that you will quickly recruit a number of staff members to handle these tasks for you, and that may be true, but you will still need to develop key skills to run an engineering business, even when you have hundreds or thousands of employees beneath you.
For example, you may want to learn how to be an effective leader and manager of people, in order to get the best out of your staff members. To do this, you could consider a Master of Science in Engineering Management Online program, which can help teach you to combine individual engineering expertise with project management and leadership skills.
Some of these engineering courses are based online, which means you can complete the course in your own time – useful if you are busy dedicating most of your days to building an engineering business.
2. Choose a Particular Sector to Focus your Attention on
If you are thinking of founding an engineering business, then it is best to find as specific a niche as possible to establish yourself in. This might sound counter-intuitive, because it will limit the size of your customer base, but it will almost certainly benefit your business.
This is because when you specialize in a certain area, you will have fewer companies to compete against, and be able to fulfil a unique service that no one else is providing. If there is a receptive customer base who have wanted a specific problem solved but haven’t been able to until your company came along, they will be far more likely to become long term customers than if you are competing directly against the most famous product engineering corporations in the world.
By entering a smaller niche, you will need to spend less time and money having to establish yourself. It will also stop you watering down your brand image by trying to please everyone.
3. What does Your Business Offer that Others Don’t?
To help you work out which niche is right for you, take a moment to ascertain what your business does that others don’t. Your company needs to have a unique selling point (USP) that sets it apart from existing competitors, such as a particular service, product or price point that makes you worthy of consideration from customers.
It sounds harsh, but if your engineering company offers nothing new, you have to question why you are going through the trouble of starting it in the first place.
Once you have found what your business does that others don’t, you can quickly find a market that could benefit from what you offer.
4. Hire Staff with Skills you Don’t Have
If you are passionate about engineering, then chances are you have a keen eye for detail and like tasks to be done to a certain standard. These are fantastic qualities, but they can be problematic when it comes to hiring members of staff to do these jobs for you.
You have to be able to trust your employees to do a high-quality job, and actively hire people who would do the job better than you could. While you might be tempted to have a hand in every task, this will only end in micro-managing disaster.
Instead, learn to train your employees well, and give them enough breathing space to do their jobs. When you hire a team who have skills that you don’t, you make your business far stronger as a result.
5. Make Sure You are Starting Your Business For the Right Reasons
When you have a burning ambition to build a business from scratch, it can be easy to be swept up in visions of your successful future self, abundant in wealth and status.
However, it is healthy to question your true motives – whether you are starting an engineering business because you are passionate about engineering excellence or because you want the glory of owning a successful business.
Although there is nothing wrong with ambition (and it is a necessary element of entrepreneurship), you need to make sure you aren’t just starting a business as a means of becoming instantly wealthy or powerful. It will not be enough to sustain you through hard times, and your business will suffer as a result.