A career in engineering can be both exhilarating and thought-provoking, but unfortunately, there can be a lot of competition to come up against, and it’s often the case that they have very little control over their own projects when they have bosses to answer to.
Yet, there’s no reason why those interested in working in the sector couldn’t set up an engineering firm.
If you’ve just had the idea that a career in engineering may be for you, or perhaps you’ve been in the industry for years and are looking to take a different turn, you should think hard about setting up your own business in engineering.
So, how do you get started?
One of the biggest problems many prospective engineering business owners face is that they don’t have the right contacts to push forwards. While you may have people interested in your products, that’s not to say they’re going to aid your business plan or help you become successful. With this in mind, you need to be surrounding yourself with the right network of people to make your big break in engineering.
Networking is crucial to your success as a business professional in the industry – but how do you find these key contacts? Industry events and meet-ups are a great starting point. Here, you’ll find professionals and business owners already working in the engineering sector, as well as chatting with others who have needs you may be able to help with.
If you think you have made a contact who may come in useful don’t forget to ask for their contact details. The following day, write a follow-up email and express how much you enjoyed meeting them and how you wish to push forward with your idea. This is how you can create significant collaborations and partnerships to turn your business goal into a reality.
Get the right tools
When you go out alone starting out as an engineering consultant, you need to be sure that you have the right materials and tools. Part of the engineering role is to create designs for clients, so you will need the likes of a modeling software program and 3D printer as well as physical tools to actually build the products.
Quoting for the first time on different projects can be difficult. If you’ve never run a business before or had any previous experience in engineering, then you’re probably clueless on how to decide on a reasonable quotation.
One key tip would be to never give a fixed cost. As projects unravel, there will likely be many hidden costs that both yourself or the client never anticipated until the project starts. Feel free to suggest a fixed cost for labor and production but inform your client that the cost of materials will need to be added at a later date.
Once they have agreed on the materials, it would be in your best interests to ask for up to 50% of the initial quote upfront so you don’t get stung.
You will however, need to work out a budget and stick to it. Spending more cash on a project than the allocated budget means it simply wouldn’t be worth it financially.
It’s not just quoting costs you need to think about when it comes to completing projects. You also need to quote for time. As a new engineering firm, don’t try and rush a project to get it done speedily if you know you’re simply not going to be able to achieve it. Instead, quote a time scale longer than the project is expected to take and if you get it done earlier, the client will think highly of you. This will also benefit you in the sense that if more work comes up during that time, you have the time to run multiple projects side by side.
Study a degree
Engineering is growing in importance in the modern world, meaning there are constant developments taking place. This is why you need to have some basic knowledge in engineering in order to understand these progressions.
If you’re worried about progressing in the engineering world due to not having any theoretical knowledge, you may like to think about studying an online electrical engineering degree. Having educational knowledge in engineering is of real benefit to your professional profile and customers are more inclined to trust your judgement. You can also add this achievement onto your business cards and website to allow you to appear as a leader in your industry.
A masters in electrical engineering prepares you to design, build, analyze and lead advanced engineering communications and projects with the latest technology. What’s more, the course can be studied 100% online, meaning no physical lectures need to be attended. This is ideal when starting out in business as it’s likely you’ll have limited time to commit to structured lectures. You are free to study the course from the comfort of your own home around your commitments.
Take on side projects
If you’re not currently working on any projects professionally, it would be best to try and get stuck into work however you can – even if it’s just for personal enjoyment. Potential clients are more inclined to work with you if you give off the impression that you’re in demand are continuously using your skills to create new products. This is where you should think about taking on side projects.
Spend your free time designing and inventing new products in order to develop your engineering knowledge. You never know what innovative product you could create and where it may lead you. Not only are you developing your creative skills, but it should also give you further experience using particular tools and machinery.
Take pride in your side projects and add them to an online portfolio or your website. Getting an idea of your work will allow clients to feel much more confidence in investing in your engineering firm.
Communicate with clients
When taking on a particular project, be sure to keep your clients updated regularly – especially if there happens to be any glitches or time delays. The client will be far more understanding about the situation if you are upfront, rather than trying to muddle through without keeping them in the loop.
Don’t forget about marketing
As a freelancer, you may be off put by potential clients turning down your visions. As engineering is an industry where personal ideas can turn into successful projects, having your creative ideas rejected can be difficult to swallow. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a world of interested individuals waiting to hear about your next idea. Don’t overlook the notion of marketing to get yourself known. By using strategic marketing services, you can stimulate your business growth substantially.