Starting up Awesome

A blog about starting up an architectural business in sunny, crisis-ridden Italy



Jan '13 - Nov '13

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    Time management or lack of it

    By bigness
    May 23, '13 12:11 PM EST

    So, yeah, apologies.

    Starting this blog seemed like a very good and very manageable idea, but then when it all steamrolled into march it was firmly positioned on the back seat where it languished so far.

    The situation so far:

    The location

    We have settled into our "office" at the beginning of March, making this our third month here. We found a room within what will become a co-working space in the future months. We traded a very basic interior design intervention with a as-yet-unlimited free rent deal. The plusses are: the location (bang in the center), the infrastructure (web, phone, toilets, a small kitchen) and the possibility of developing a network with the future co-workers. The minuses are the lack of natural light or ventilation (our current room has no windows, it will become the calling room and we will move elsewhere in due time) and the lack of privacy in an office which is a continuous hustle and bustle.

    The work

    We've designed four restaurant interiors so far, one in France and three in our city. The three local commissions all come from the same client. It's been a good if somewhat shambolic collaboration so far. If anybody reading this has ever worked for a design led practice, specially doing competitions, they will surely know the sort of panic that comes with revisions and changes of mind on the side of the "decision-makers", which usually end up totalling the work done thus far. Well, clients are the same apparently. Only they own the project. The first project has been completed last week. Oh boy. It was emotional. 

    There is nothing special about it (a restaurant fit-out done in two weeks), I've been working on much bigger, much more complex and enticing projects. But damn, walking into something YOU did, no matter how "unarchitectural" it is, gives you a feeling of joy I was not expecting to experience.

    The technicalities:

    We are still working off our laptops, without a server onto which we can save and share the files. This creates a few problems, mitigated by the fact that we are always discussing design together but often working separately, each one on a project, so each one is in control of the material being produced. We will work on this as soon as we start having a bit of revenue to spend on a storage system.
    From the bureaucratic point of view we are still operating as two separate professionals, financially and in terms of liability. We share an accountant, and he has advised us to keep it as such until we reach a certain amount of annual revenue. A target which, I can safely report, is so far ahead is not even worth worrying about it.

    Personal considerations:

    -Having a partner is like being married. I have never had a relationship like this with another human being. You share goals, worries, problems. You have to make do with his limits and the same he has to do with you. You find yourself having to trust each other because you know that you will both pay for the mistakes the other makes. Sometimes you want to rip his throat out but refrain from doing so, out of... mutual dependency. I think I have grown a lot as a human being since this thing has started.

    -Clients have a real hard time paying the bills. But, like, a real hard time. Invoices are lost more often than needles in haystacks. They forget. They misplace. They have accountants who are blind and banks that take several months to perform transfers. They have kids to feed and bills to pay. You, obviously, do not. Do not be afraid to ask for your cash. Be polite, civilised, firm, and only slightly hint at retaliations, legal actions, or torching their house and business.

    -I'm taking advantage of my being my own boss, and I am going home to do some house chores. Ciao.

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About this Blog

Starting up your own practice is often something you only dream of... what if one day you woke up and realized that you really had no other option? Young, determined, absolutely pennyless and without much of a clue, these are the chronicles of Richard and Stefano trying to start their dream practice: Osom Architects.

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  • bigness

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