You will need to make an estimate of:
- the number of commissions you are likely to undertake - you might complete many small projects during the year or work on just one or two major commissions
- the fee you will charge for each commission and when you will receive payment
- the income you are likely to receive from other, related services that you might decide to offer
You will face competition from other architects and architectural technologists in your area who may offer similar services. Competition for projects also comes from major construction firms that offer design and build packages which often do not call on the services of an external architect.
As a first step, it would be a good idea to check out the competition. It's very important to establish who your competitors are and the range of services they offer. A look in the Yellow Pages for your area or a search on Yell.com will show the number of existing practices and will also give you a feel for the type of services they offer. You could also use the RIBA online Find an architect tool to find details of RIBA practices in your area.
Give some thought as well to the type of client you will target and to how they will know about you. For example, you might decide to start off by concentrating on local domestic residential commissions, such as extensions, alterations or barn conversions. Depending on the area in which you plan to practice, there may be opportunities for work on second homes in addition to permanent residences. As well as advertising your services you could also contact local builders and developers to let them know what you offer and how much you charge. If you plan to undertake commercial or industrial work you could contact major local organisations such as colleges and universities or housing associations. Establishing and maintaining contacts with a variety of businesses and professionals in the construction sector will also help you to gain commissions.
Make sure you put together an attractive portfolio of work done to show to prospective clients. It makes sense to include on your website photos of some of the projects you've worked on.
Use the record sheets for your market research.