A young European architect, who upon graduation worked for 8 years in Asia, sought to establish an independent studio in New York, together with his Chinese-born partner, a successful architect herself. The young team shared excellent academic training, recognized talent, and a small portfolio of completed and prospective work. Rather than seeking jobs at an established architectural firm to slowly and safely build a reputation and a client base, they decided — without any substantial financial resources—to enter this field as a David among the Goliaths and start on their own. I was asked to coach them in this venture; help them find their way in a field in which I had no knowledge, by sticking to the core elements of how to achieve success for a small business. This included practical financial and organizational issues, but more importantly how to develop a young team of co-workers, balancing near term certainty and long term recognition, matching professional ideals and financial certainty.
After a number of years, the firm is doing well, still finding its permanent place in the competitive land of giant firms, but now recognized internationally as a leading talent and methodically building its portfolio.
Key success factors were:
- Willingness and ability to listen and learn from others, who represent a totally different profession.
- The importance of vision and professional commitment in pursuing an objective against more ‘mundane’ concerns
- But still recognizing that basic rules of good business management cannot be ignored