With the fundamentals in place, there are three critical steps that will focus your firm for a successful future.

There are fundamental requirements when building a better business. Understand financials. Write a business plan. Develop a marketing strategy. Learn to sell your services. Build a business with systems to allow you to create the architecture that makes the world more beautiful and improves the lives of your clients. Focus on profit, then art.

With the fundamentals in place, there are three critical steps that will focus your firm for a successful future.

Pursue Debt Zero

The first step in building a strong healthy business is to pursue debt zero. Despite what our banks try to sell us, debt is not the solution for success. Our society is addicted to debt. Impatience and misguided ambition has led us to a dead end of exhausted lines of credit and maxed out credit cards. Borrowing money holds us captive to lenders and restricts our ability to build upon the fundamentals for growth. Grow slow. Save your money and earn your way to success.

Raise Your Fees

The second step to success is to raise your fees. The independent architect must lead this revolution without fear. With a clear understanding of the financial fundamentals of revenue, expense, profit and annual budgets, we may begin to push our rates up to a level that will allow our firms to grow and thrive. The value of our services will increase in the mind of our clients and architects may then focus on creating a better world without fear of financial failure.

Share What You Know

Once you build a better business, open your doors and share what you have learned with fellow architects. The more we share, the more the entire profession will benefit. When changes in the profession begin to occur as a result of independent architects taking responsibility for their own successes and then collaborating with others, we will all benefit. We’ll all make more money, we’ll all build better businesses and we’ll all help to create a better world through architecture.

Mark R. LePage is Partner in Charge of Operations at Fivecat Studio Architecture and the founder of Entrepreneur Architect, an online education resource inspiring architects to build better businesses.