Design Synergies is celebrating its 5th birthday this month! The 5-year mark is a big milestone for us, as it is for a lot of small businesses. In 2012, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported – based on research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – that about 2/3 of small businesses make it to the 2-year mark. About half get to 5 years.
This is a profession dominated by small firms: 77.3% of architectural offices in 2016 had less than 10 employees. Yet resources for small firm owners have been limited, until recently. We have been lucky to find a lot of support from other small firm owners and groups like EntreArchitect Academy.
When we launched DSA, we received a lot of advice, from how to market a design firm to how important it is to become certified as a Woman-Owned Business. Several people who know about these things said that it takes at least 5 years to establish a design firm. That seemed like an awfully long time. Now it feels like it flew by.
To say it has been a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement. Even in 2012, four years after the financial collapse, the construction industry was still very shaky in many parts of the country (see the AIA’s 2012 Business of Architecture Report).
Architecture firms, which had grown on average over 54% between 2006 & 2008, saw a negative growth rate (-41.3%) between 2009 and 2011. Not exactly the most inspiring news when you want to start a new business! But the reality is that smaller firms – especially the smallest of us – are a lot more adaptable in hard economic times. We have to be. We learn to do that every single day, wearing all the hats and doing all the jobs. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.
We have been very fortunate here in Buffalo, NY: from the revitalization of our waterfront to the completion of 3 new buildings on the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus (including a new Children’s Hospital), there has been a lot of public and private investment in our city over the past decade.
We have loved being a part of important projects around our city, and we are really looking forward to what comes next.