Startup Advice

Starting an Engineering Services Business

We've collected some good advice that is perfect for entrepreneurial folks who are thinking about starting an engineering services business. This is a must-read before you open up shop.

Thinking about opening an engineering services business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.

Engineering Services Business

Snapshot of Engineering Entrepreneurs

Engineers fall into a category of business professionals who can easily transition from an employment scenario into a consultancy or new business launch. Once you have the skills to perform engineering services, your learning and professional network can serve as the backbone of your business plan.

But the low barriers to entry for trained engineers can also be a curse. During periods of economic downsizing, the market is flooded with engineering consultants. So to succeed, the concept of business ownership needs to be a long-term commitment -- not just an activity that pays the bills until the next full-time employment opportunity lands on your doorstep.

Competitive Disadvantages for Engineering Startups

Startup engineering firms are at a competitive disadvantage because they lack the track record and resources of larger competitors. The top engineering firms wine and dine clients to land big contracts. As a startup entrepreneur, wining and dining probably won't be in your budget so you'll need to find other ways to land clients.

Larger firms also tend to specialize in engineering niches and industries. In the engineering industry, a handful of firms dominate each niche, making it extremely difficult for small startups to break into specialized fields and capture their slice of the total market.

Overcoming Competitive Barriers

In some industries, specialization is the key to overcoming competitive barriers. But in the engineering services industry, startups can't afford to hire specialists with expertise that is limited to a subsection of the marketplace.

Since most of your team will consist of generalists, you can use your startup's broader base of expertise to compete against larger engineering firms. It all boils down to your ability to market your services to clients who need a range of engineering services and to convince them that your engineers will stay with them throughout the duration of the project.

In other words, an effective value proposition for an engineering services startup can be the delivery of end-to-end engineering consultation in a client-focused service model. By leveraging testimonials and recommendations from industry contacts, you can reinforce your value proposition and gain an advantage over firms that pass their clients from one engineer to the next to complete the project.

Best Practices for Engineering Services Company Business Plans

The idea of writing a business plan is intimidating to most aspiring engineering services business owners. A good engineering services company business plan, however, is a reality check that gauges your business instincts against hard industry numbers.

But writing a business plan is only half the battle. Have you given any thought to what your engineering services business will do with the business plan once it's finished?

To optimize the impact of your plan, it's important to consider a distribution strategy. Without exception, the most effective business plans also leverage an organized process for tracking business plan distribution.

Take a Look at Competitors

Before you open an engineering services business in your town, it's worthwhile to see how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you get a list of local competitors nearby. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of engineering services businesses in your community.

How tough is the competition in the market you are considering? If the competition is too tough, you may need to think about starting the business in a different area or even start a completely different business instead.

Studying the Market

If you are interested in starting an engineering services business, be sure to have a conversation with someone who is in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. What's in it for them?

Thankfully, an owner of a an engineering services business in a different city may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs In my experience, you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.

What's the process for finding somebody who runs an engineering services business outside of your area who is willing to talk?

It's not that hard. Just use the handy link below and enter in a random city/state or zipcode.

Leveraging the Branding Benefits of an Engineering Services Business Acquisition

As an emerging engineering services business startup, your company are at a competitive disadvantage because you brand is just beginning to establish an identity in the marketplace.

Unless you are 100% married to the idea of a startup, you can bypass the time it takes to establish a brand identity by buying a business to get an established brand. As a startup, the best you can hope for is to gradually develop brand awareness over a period of months and years.

However, an engineering services business acquisition can put you at the helm of a brand that is already highly trusted by your target market.

Don't Rule Out Franchising

If you don't want to have to do everything on your own, you may want to consider going the franchising route.

If you are thinking about opening an engineering services business, you may want to check out whether buying a franchise could increase your chances of success.

The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.

Related Articles on Starting a Company

These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.

How to Find Start-Up Capital

How to Get a DUNS Number

Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

Share this article

Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Lists of Venture Capital and Private Equity Firms

Franchise Opportunities


Business Glossary