Civil engineering is a vast field with many different specialties. If you want to have a successful career in civil engineering, you need to plan your career and work systematically. With civil engineering, you have the opportunity to start your own business, which is something that many other disciplines don't offer. The challenges in the civil engineering industry can be overcome with proper planning and the right attitude. This profession requires patience and long-term vision to see the results of your work.
If you have experience in the field of civil engineering, you may be interested in starting your own engineering consulting firm. Or maybe you want to enter the construction business? Even if you are a civil engineering student or an entry level civil engineer, these tips will help you succeed in setting up your own consulting business in civil or structural engineering.
There are a few key things that civil engineers need to keep in mind if they want to start their own business and be successful. Firstly, it's important to have a good business plan and be able to sustain your business over the long term. Secondly, you need to focus on key areas such as marketing, finances and operations. And thirdly, you need to be able to overcome any struggles that you might face as a beginner. By following these simple tips, you'll be well on your way to achieving your dream of starting your own structural consulting business and ensure the business can flourish.
Find your niche
Start-ups are often filled with enthusiasm, and it can be tempting to want to take on every project that comes your way. It can be difficult to decline work when you're just starting out and you're looking for some quick revenue. However, it's very important to know your strengths and stick to them. This is actually important in the beginning, because you need to build up your reputation and slowly diversify.
As an example, if your expertise is in R.C.C buildings, it's best to stick to that for now. Once you've made a name for yourself and built up a reputation, you can branch out into other areas. Build up your team and competence in a systematic way, and consider collaborating with other specialists and seniors in the industry. Once you've done that, you can take on projects that are outside of your usual area of expertise.
Smart tools & automation
Investing in smart tools that help you work faster is a great way to improve your productivity. If you're in structural consulting, then ETABS and STAAD are two essential tools for structural design. Including REVIT in your workflow can reduce drafting time, errors and coordination time. Using these tools correctly can help you deliver faster and smarter, while controlling revisions and abortive work.
Adopting process automations in your business can help free up time to focus on other aspects of your business that may need attention. Lead and staff management are two areas that can be automated, but there are many other areas of your business that can be automated as well. If you need help implementing process automations in your business, please contact me and let me know what you would like to discuss. Ensure you mention what you want to discuss in the subject option.
As mentioned before, it can be helpful to take on projects with other experts in order to delegate some of the work or add your scope of work. However, it's important to have a clear understanding of the scope of the project as well as any financial arrangements. I've seen many collaborations fail in my field due to different reasons. Make sure to only work with other engineers who share your thoughts, ethics and vision.
Collaboration is key for any business, but especially so for consultants who rely on the expertise of others to get the job done right. This is why it's important to never cut corners when it comes to working with other stakeholders, like geo technical engineers or non-destructive testers. These are essential relationships that will add value and correctness to your work in the long run, and compromising on them now will only hurt your reputation down the line.
Learn Structural Engineering
A great idea for most civil engineering businesses is to learn structural engineering. This is because you will encounter structures in many forms in your day-to-day work. Even if you are a builder, it will be handy to have a good basic understanding of structural design and especially structural detailing. This will help you make the right decisions at site and ensure that what you build is safer and more economical.
Structural design learning makes you more confident in the most crucial aspect of a building.
Identify your ideal client
One issue that design consultants may face is getting properly compensated for their work. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for structural consultants to be underpaid. However, there a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. Firstly, focus on finding your ideal clients sooner. Secondly, make sure that you are clear about your fee structure from the beginning. Finally, build good relationships with your clients so that they are more likely to trust and value your work.
You need to find clients that share your vision if you want to be successful. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, what your product is, or what service you're offering - if you don't share the same values as your client, it's not going to work out. For example, let's say you're a structural consultant who believes in ethical business practices and always adheres to IS codes. There are going to be a few clients out there who also believe in these values, and it's important to find them. They will be the ones who will appreciate your work and hence pay you the right fee. That's how you'll be successful.
Increase your scope and Role
You may be wondering how expanding your scope and role can help offset the low consulting fees. One way to do this is by charging an additional fee for expanded services. For example, instead of just providing normal structural detailing and design intent drawings, you could also produce bar bending schedules. Consultants have better tools these days for producing BBS, so this is a valuable service to offer. Another thing you could do is take on regular site supervision, rather than just occasional site visits at specific stages of construction.
Deliver more than promised
It's important not to overcommit yourself or your team when it comes to deliverables or time. This may give you relief in the short term, but it can quickly become a pain. Putting off a pain from today to tomorrow is not a solution. Always agree on what is possible to deliver, and you can always ask for more time if needed. Overcommitting affects not just you, but your entire team. This can affect morale and performance.
Anytime you take on a project, you should commit to a time and deliverable that is easily manageable by you. Then, aim to deliver it early. By doing this, you will exceed the expectation of your client. If you manage this process correctly, all success will be yours.
Say No to compromises
As a civil engineer, it's important to always stick to the principles you learnt in school. Adhere to IS codes of practice and design and construction principles, and never deviate or compromise on design requirements. You may see many people around you doing compromises, but being ethical and doing business the right way is a virtue. The satisfaction you get from doing things ethically is altogether different. Propagate structures and what you learnt, and that will only elevate our profession to the next level.
The current problems in civil engineering industry can be improved by weeding out bad practices. This will create value and increase the scope of the industry. Consider this your responsibility from the beginning.
Successful consulting can be a very rewarding venture for those who are well prepared for it. If you have questions about starting a civil engineering consultancy, or about our services, please don't hesitate to reach out to me here. I would love to help! Please ensure you mention in your subject line what you want to discuss about Civil Engineering