20 truths and myths about design businesses — part 2

It’s easy to make assumptions in the day-to-day of running a business. Business leaders are busy working on projects and don’t often have time to reflect on what is and isn’t true about their business and industry.

Sometimes the company line may be that the client is always right, yet in reality the team are constantly bemoaning difficult clients. Or we’re deluding ourselves that the software we are using is great because we don’t want to have to accept that it’s made no impact despite a large spend.

In the second part of this two part article, we highlight 10 more myths common to architecture and engineering firms and reveal the truths of each of them. If you missed the first article, click here to read the first 10 myths. Some say that truth hurts, but in business the truth can open your eyes to problem areas as well as to opportunities that are being missed.

  1. Myth: We effectively control the amount of time we spend on the project
    Truth: Work expands to use up the entire fixed fee and we will do whatever it takes to get the “best” design outcome
  2. Myth: We’ve agreed on the deadline
    Truth: The minute you agree on a deadline something will change
  3. Myth: Our fees are competitive in the market place
    Truth: There is always another firm that will do it for a lower fee
  4. Myth: Our business is all about our people
    Truth: Management has far less to do with people than you’ve been led to believe. Architects (and most people) are almost impossible to manage
  5. Myth: Our principals set an example about how we do things around here
    Truth: Principals never complete timesheets on time
  6. Myth: There is NEVER enough time to do proposals correctly
    Truth: We don’t have an effective process for managing our proposals
  7. Myth: Our meetings start on time
    Truth: Meetings always start 10–15 minutes after the start time and not everyone will get there unless it is with the client
  8. Myth: We price our services accordingly
    Truth:We really would work for nothing
  9. Myth: We can handle anything at anytime
    Truth: We’re not experts in everything and need to learn how to say ‘no’ and “We’re not the best person / business to do that work”
  10. Myth: We capture the extra work that we do and bill accordingly
    Truth: We’ve never had an effective way of capturing and charging for scope of services variations. We will absorb this in our fixed fee.

This article, by Management for Design’s Rob Peake, was originally published on the Management for Design website, www.m4d.com.au.