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small business consulting
small business consulting
small business consulting
small business consulting

Small Business Consulting for Architects and Designers

Are just starting an architecture or design business? Perhaps you already have a small practice that you’re struggling to stay on top of. If this sounds like you, small business consulting can certainly help.

small business consulting



Are you an emerging practice, but experiencing the entrepreneurial seizure of going out on your own? A veteran owner, looking to grow or just stay the same size (but do it better)? We’re here to work with you ON your business, to simplify the complexity of running your business and also improve its performance and resilience. So, you can focus on your projects without stressing about your business imploding around you.

Engaging small business consulting for architects and designers is certainly a positive step forward. In addition, you may simply want to talk through a specific issue(s) or business strategy with an independent expert. Alternatively, you may want to step-up to a comprehensive programme and also become more successful and resilient. Let’s chat.

Will small business consulting work for a practice of your size?

YOUR NEXT LEVEL Programme is designed for small architectural, design and project-businesses ranging from 1 to 20+ people. But even this niche category has been subdivided into groups with different and specific needs;

For us, small practices cover:

  1. Hands Solo: 1 principal (or two) delivering their own projects, but individually without support.

  2. Movers: 2 – 5 pax, on the move with one principal (or two) and also support staff for delegated work.

  3. Shakers: 6 – 10 pax, moved on and shaking things up with one or more directors/principals, also with shared support teams.

  4. Rock’n’Rollers: 11 – 20+ pax, now certainly on a roll with one or more directors/principals responsible for increased management responsibilities. Reduced project work, and also more diversified projects supported by individuals and teams with more defined roles and responsibilities.

What's YOUR big picture?

What’s your grandest vision for your life? For example, a life you don’t need to take a vacation from.

Your business is a big part of that life and therefore, its success can help deliver your vision. To ensure that success you need:

  • Dream
  • Desire
  • Determination
  • Destination – defining YOUR vision of Sustainable Prosperity

Sustainable Prosperity is being able to maintain and defend your state of prosperity, for instance, the outcome of your success. This may include recognition, continuous improvement, or being time-rich to pursue opportunities (both personally and commercially). Also, it means being profitable with financial reserves to be resilient and build personal financial security.

Most importantly, our small business consulting services focus on how you can achieve your Sustainable Prosperity.

“You will NEVER be left with enough time to work ON your business. So it has to be prioritised as one of your top projects. You set it up as a project and schedule it like any other project. 

You have to work on it every month.”   Greg Branson (revised)

YOUR NEXT LEVEL Programme Phases


Firstly, when you decide to step-up to YOUR NEXT LEVEL PROGRAMME, we will complete your registration procedures under a Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement. This protects the confidentiality of all shared information, and we also agree on your schedule for Sessions.




Stage 1: Firstly, this defines your business’s position now, but also where you want it to be in the future. Covering 3 Sessions:




These are completed over 3 weeks (or as agreed).


Stage 2: Secondly, create the tools and techniques needed to simplify your ON-Business functions. Covering 3 Sessions:



2.3 SYSTEMS & SYNERGIES, each two weeks apart (or as agreed). 


Stage 3: Take action, consequently using the tools and techniques from Stage 2. Also, create and implement the improvements that simplify your ON-Business functions. Covering a minimum of 7 Sessions:








Sessions are delivered in 1:1 Workshops at our offices on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. (Or on the other hand via Zoom or at your office which will incur travel time and costs).

Each small business consulting workshop is 2 hours and structured on the following basis:

  1. Review of progress on the outputs from the previous Session.
  2. Inputs Review and also discuss pre-workshop tasks that have been set for this Session.
  3. Workshop on the Session topic, covering:
  • ‘Why‘ which explains the purpose and also the benefits of this Session. 
  • ‘What’ which outlines the scope of what needs to be done.
  • ‘How’ you create, develop, and also implement your systems, synergies, tools, processes and procedures. Moreover, these pragmatically deliver the improvements to your business’s management.
  1. Outputs activity and/or documentation created either during or post workshop.



“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates” – Thomas S. Monson

Monitor and also report on the performance of improvements across all business functions. Using agreed KPI (for example, they may be quantitative and/or qualitative).

Control performance deviations using Exception Management and also continual improvements. We offer to keep you accountable to the improvements you’re making during ‘30 minute’ monthly check-ins on your performance. In addition, we offer guidance and a sounding board for your current issues.

Programme Sessions in Phase 2


Calculate if your business is financially sustainable – and what to do if it’s not.

Most importantly, simply surviving requires commercial sustainability. That is, the ability for your project-business to maintain and support itself over the long term.

Above all, 75% of all small architectural, design and project-businesses are NOT commercially sustainable. Moreover, 60% of architectural and design small business owners DON’T know it. This is because they can disguise it for the short term by under-paying themselves and working overtime for free. But you can’t defy financial gravity forever.

Outcome: You will have calculated what your charge-out rates must be to achieve commercial sustainability and also included it in your revised Fee Agreement. There will also be an accurate calculation of your business’s potential capacity based on realistic and factual parameters.

Stage 1 POSITION – Session 1.1 Sustainability: 1 workshop (minimum).

The Tipping Point

Identify which improvements will significantly change your profitability.

Are you frustrated that, having thrown everything you have into your projects, but it still hasn’t converted into the profitability you’d hope to achieve? Moreover, at what point does striving to succeed transform into thriving with success?

Firstly, what if you could simply take control of what’s required to make that transformation?

Above all, you will be surprised how small improvements can make a big difference to your profitability. Specific small business consulting for architectural and design practices can certainly help on this journey.

Outcome: You will identify and set your targets for improvements to the 3 fundamental financial variables that deliver your profitability.

Stage 1 POSITION – Session 1.2 The Tipping Point: 1 workshop (minimum).


What do you want your business to look like once you’ve developed it?

The most common mistake made by leaders of small architectural, design and project-businesses,: Failing to define what they want it to look like in the future. Because if it’s not defined, there can’t be a plan to get there.

Did you realise that more than 80% of small project-businesses, like yours, are also crippled by this indecision? Nothing is done about it and the business keeps rolling along, striving to meet short-term objectives. Even struggling to stay in business. It’s a hand-to-mouth existence, not a solution.

Direction is more important than speed.

Stop going nowhere fast.

Outcome: You will define and document what your successful future business will be. Even if you change at a future date, you will have an initial goal(s) and a direction to take you forward, on which you can build your Action Plan.

Stage 1 POSITION – Session 1.3 Prosperity: 1 workshop (minimum).

Organise and Reduce

Organisation makes a system of many appear fewer (J.Maeda).

For most small project-businesses the creation and development of ON-Business functions has been ad hoc, inconsistent and confused. This confusion creates complexity and inaccuracy, resulting in lost time, anxiety and stress.

The simplest way to achieve SIMPLICITY is through thoughtful reduction.

Do you and your team know exactly what you have (and how to use it) to manage all the different activities in your business? Or have people been creating, naming and storing stuff “their way”? Or worse, wasting time re-creating something that already exists.

Outcome: Organisation and structure of your ON-Business functions, roles and responsibilities required, required records and filing. Thoughtful reduction is the removal of the unnecessary and non-contributing, determined by relevance and the G.A.P.P. disciplines.

Stage 2 SIMPLIFY – Session 2.1 Organise & Reduce: 1 workshop (minimum).

Time & Priorities

Savings in time feel like SIMPLICITY (J.Maeda).

​Yours is an infinite job, but you only have finite time available. You certainly can’t manage an infinite job by just adding more and more hours. Most importantly, you need to change the way you think about and manage your time and your work.

Priorities simplify the process of delivering the greatest value from the finite resources available.

The one thing you know for certain is that the non-chargeable time allocated to managing your business needs to be minimised, But it also needs to be productive.

Firstly, seek success, not perfection. Applying Pareto’s Principle, focus on the 20% of the effort required to deliver 80% of your defined success. Most importantly, grab the low hanging fruit! 

Outcome: This session compares any systems (both manual or automated) currently used. Also, how/if they integrate, against under-performance or opportunities identified in the GAPP Audit, using a cost/benefit analysis.

Stage 2 SIMPLIFY – Session 2.2 Time & Priorities: 1 workshop (minimum).

Systems & Synergies

Integrating systems create synergies that simplify the whole and create a value which is greater than the sum of its parts.

Are you frustrated with your team not doing things how you want them done, and then having to re-do it? Are you fed-up with the time and energy lost, having to re-enter, double handle and also track down/transfer/compile existing information?

Any good small business consulting service will certainly tell you one thing. Most importantly, integrating systems is crucial to improving efficiency. Firstly, systems integration creates synergies by integrating existing, often disparate systems in such a way “that focuses on increasing value to the client”. For example, improved service/product quality and performance. At the same time, providing value to the company (e.g., reducing operational costs and improving response time).

Outcome: Identification of existing/required systems and adoption of one-touch information management, to allow delegation rather than abduction.

Stage 2 SIMPLIFY – Session 2.3 Systems & Synergies: 1 workshop (minimum).

Monthly Improvement Workshops for your 7 ON-Business Fundamentals



Business Management, Leadership and Culture are certainly overarching functions for the entire organisation and business. They set the mission, vision and also values used to test all initiatives and actions. It’s responsible for top-down strategy and also responsive to bottom-up tactical outcomes. Therefore, this is where all other functions are integrated with weighted importance. 1 workshop (minimum).


Quality Management Systems are a collection of business processes to consistently meet client requirements and also enhance their satisfaction. Most importantly, they’re aligned with an organisation’s purpose and strategic direction (ISO9001:2015). It is expressed as the organisational goals and aspirations, policies, processes, documented information. Also, the resources needed to implement and maintain it, converging with sustainability and transparency initiatives. 1 workshop (minimum).


The efficient and effective management of money, both income and expenses. Most importantly, it is managed in such a manner as to accomplish the objectives of the organisation. Therefore, it is the specialised function directly associated with the top management. However, it is monitored and controlled on a weekly basis with specific Management Accounts. This includes Earned Value Management and also cashflow projections. 1 workshop (minimum).


The efficient and effective development of an organisation’s resources when they are needed. Such resources may include human skills, facilities, support services, information technology (IT), knowledge, data and also information. 1 workshop (minimum).


Marketing strategy management is the process of developing strategies and also planning. For example, for a product or service to reach the desired customer segment. It creates awareness of what is offered and brings the client to you, therefore engaging your sales process. Most importantly, marketing is not sales. 2 workshops (probably).


Improving sales directly increases revenue. Somehow the one industry that’s almost pure knowledge work is largely stuck in a paradigm of selling the hours they work, instead of the value they create. People tend to make irrational and illogical decisions when addressing financially related issues. So, price may not be the determining factor in winning new work. Improved sales proposals and negotiating skills certainly transform your service offer. Take it from a price-driven commodity to a value-adding service, but with a much higher rate of return. 1 workshop (minimum).


The Project Management Office (PMO) is required if you do 2 or more projects. It’s a management structure that standardises the project-related governance processes. It also facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques. As the PMO controls the availability and allocation of resources across all projects, as well as meeting the obligations of any project-related contracts/ agreements, it is appropriate for the PMO to assist preparing any RFP responses for new projects. 1 workshop (minimum).



Phase 1 - Programme initiation
Registration & initial discovery
Phase 2 - Planning & Execution
per workshop
Stage 1 - Position
Stage 2 - Simplify
Stage 3 - Improve
Phase 3 - Monitoring & Controlling
per hour

For additional assistance with On-Demand issues – $255 / hr – (all prices in AUD$ and ex GST)

Can small business consulting help you?

With our help, you can certainly achieve the life you want. For instance, better systems to improve the way your practice runs. Meanwhile, you’ve got more time to focus on projects. You’ll also find more ways to enjoy the life you’ve created.