5 Startup Stage Business Principles

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Previously on the Global Architect Letters

Last week we talked about the Business Maturity Model.

The main idea was to help you understand where you are right now and what you need to do next.

There were 3 stages:

  • Low maturity or Startup stage
  • Mid maturity or Growth stage
  • High maturity or Scale stage

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And each one of them had 3 steps.

In this letter we will focus on the first stage → the Startup Stage.

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This stage consists of launching your architecture business.

To do this you have to test your ideas, whether they really work or not….

Maybe you want a service-oriented business, designing custom residential buildings.

Or you want to create online courses around sustainability.

Or maybe you want to dedicate yourself to helping and serving other architects.

It's basically a process of discarding, like a game of Guess Who.

The goal is to find the career direction that will give meaning to your life.

You will have to discard most of your "bad" ideas until you find the good one.

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It’s basically a discarding process, like the Guess Who game.

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Let's get real for a moment

Running your own architecture firm is tough.

Ever feel like you're a bit lost, like you're not sure where you're heading?

You've got all those skills and dreams, but the map to get there is a bit blurry. That's totally normal.

A lot of what we learned in school doesn't always match up with the real world.

We were left abandoned, on the university's doorstep, in one of the toughest times for construction.

Like, make a life for yourself, kid.

We are going to turn this situation around and make a living from architecture as we deserve.

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The Startup Stage is about figuring out what you really want to do.

What's the work that'll make you jump out of bed each morning?

To find that, you've got to test your ideas.

I’m sure you've got many, but which one will light that spark in you?

Pick one and try it out. Experiment.

See if it feels right, if it gets you excited.

Or maybe is something you can see yourself doing for years.

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That's what we're after, finding that professional direction that gives your life meaning and joy.

So, let's find that path that's uniquely yours.

It's out there, waiting for you to take the first step.

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Understanding the Startup Stage

Our goal at this stage is to find the right direction.

Don't worry about being perfect, or making the most money.

We are in the early days of our business, and we want to find the right business model ideas.

To do this you must follow the next 5 steps:

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1) Move Fast and Keep It Simple

Usually, it's better to move quickly and keep things simple.

Instead of getting stuck making everything perfect, it's smarter to get your ideas out there fast.

“Action produces information.”

Even if you are not sure what to do, just do anything.

Because when you do it it will produce some information.

This means making choices quickly and learning as you go.

Just keep doing stuff.

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It's like designing a building.

You wouldn't spend a year drawing every detail, not knowing what the client wants, would you?

Instead of taking forever to finish it, why not show an early sketch to your client and see what they think?

Use their feedback to make it better, step by step.

And you go into more and more detail, each time you solve the doubts.

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This is the same thing.

We have to validate if your business ideas are liked by your customers or not.

Try new ideas, show them to people, and don't wait for everything to be perfect.

Do lots of little things fast, not one big thing slow.

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For example, in our case we have different content that resonates with our audience.

We start by analyzing in detail our Ideal Buyer Persona and defining the Content Pillars they are most interested in:

  • Finding their Niche or Audience
  • Building long-term relationships and trust → Marketing.
  • Figuring out how to sell → Sales

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… And so on and so forth.

So based on those Content Pillars we are creating and distributing a lot of daily and weekly content.

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These are different experiments that we're testing to find out what are the main topics that our audience is most interested in.

Once we discover the topics that are of most interest, we continue to create more content around those areas.

Like the Sprints we started to publish recently:

  • Buyer Persona
  • Market Research
  • Awareness Matrix
  • Content Marketing

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And so on and so forth. You follow me, right?

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My tip: Start experimenting with some of our Sprints

🎓 Start with an affordable sprint, and get your business off the ground with the coursework, resources and individual coaching sessions.

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Sprints are actionable, on-demand lessons, carefully designed to equip you with the skill you need to make more money and grow your architecture business.

They will help you solve your most pressing challenges in 5 hours or less.

Remember, you're in the experimentation phase.

The goal is to figure out which ideas work and which ones don't.

So move fast and keep it simple.

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2) Choose Wisely and Take Bold Steps

Making big, bold choices is what really counts.

It's not the everyday stuff, like picking the right pen to draw.

I’m talking about the big moves. Like deciding which direction to move on.

Think back to your best work. Was it luck?

No, it was because you made a brave choice.

Like when you decided to design something totally different, or work with someone who challenged you.

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Focus on the big decisions

Maybe that means switching from AutoCAD to Revit and changing the way you design (finally).

Or choose a new line of business that will help you make more money.

For me, being brave meant leaving behind the traditional way of doing architecture and going All-In to digital businesses.

It was not an easy decision. I was afraid to jump.

I had to say no to the money I was already making.

To the contacts I already had.

And to the way of living that was already working.

It is those types of decisions that lead you to a new life.

That's what I mean by making big decisions.

This is about figuring out what you really want to do.

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3) Keep Going and Stay Sharp

To do great things, you have to persevere, even when it is difficult.

It's like building: you put one brick at a time and, little by little, you see how a structure rises.

What you want to build?

  • Is it a small business, that pays for your nomadic lifestyle?
  • Or a super profitable and scalable business?

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Don't get lost in small tasks that will distract you.

And when you feel like giving up, remember why you started.

Keep your goal in mind and keep moving toward it, day by day.

Stay true to your ideas and, before you know it, you'll see your business standing.

“Money grows on the tree of persistence” – Japanese Proverb.

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4) Make a plan. And stick to it

Architects are usually dreamers. But rarely doers.

Dreaming big is good, but making it happen is better.

Break your big dreams into small, clear steps.

Instead of getting overwhelmed with the whole project, focus on the next step.

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Need customers?

Start by creating a website for your work and share it with lots of people.

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Want to get better at your craft?

Choose a skill you want to improve and practice it every day.

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Make a plan. And stick to it.

Go step by step and you won't get stressed.

Before you know it, you'll have created something great.

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My tip: Unlock your most important situation with personalized  1:1 Coaching Sessions.

🎓 If you're feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or just looking for a fresh perspective, don't underestimate the power of tapping into a mentor's wisdom. Book a 1:1 Coaching Session. You'll get direct access to pros who've been in your shoes and successfully navigated the challenges you're facing.

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5) Know your business like your hometown

I come from a small town. We are about 1.600 people, and we all know each other.

Knowing everyone and everything in the neighborhood is a competitive advantage.

Because I know who has what problem, where the shortcuts are, how people behave, what they think….

Understanding your business is the same.

Like knowing all the streets and buildings in your town or city.

Knowing what everyone else is doing. Understand what's going on.

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Talk to your customers and listen to what they want.

This will guide you in making the right decisions for your business.

Your mission is not just to design buildings, but to know everything about your industry.

  • Who are the Key Players in your industry?
  • How do they influence to each other?
  • What are your customers looking for?
  • How many competitors are there?
  • Who are the Service Providers?
  • Who are the Influencers?
  • Who are the Regulators?

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When you truly understand who you're working for, you'll sell products and services they'll need and love.

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My advice: Understand your Key Market Players

🎓 Learn how to identify and understand the key stakeholders in your market — from clients to contractors to community leaders. Gain clarity with the Audience – Key Market Players Challenge. By knowing these influencers, you can tailor your approach, communicate more effectively, and create designs that not only look great but also tick all the right boxes.

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What did I learn?

Along all these years I’ve made all kind of mistakes and learned from them.

But regarding to the initial moments of starting my business, these were main key learnings.

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1) Speed Beats Perfection

It's better to act quickly and improve as you go rather than waiting for everything to be perfect.

The longer I put off making a decision, the more difficult it became for me to deal with the problem later.

Test your ideas fast and keep simple.

You can start with affordable sprints.

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2) Bold Choices Matter

The big, brave decisions are the ones that shape your career.

  • Change your industry
  • Start your own business
  • Pivot your business model
  • Serve to a different audience

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Choose to tackle big problems. And rewards will follow.

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3) Steady Effort Wins

Keep working steadily towards your goal.

It's not about bursts of work but consistent effort that builds lasting success.

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Day by day. Step by step. Brick by brick. That’s how you build a profitable business.

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4) My most painful learning

Please, read this one carefully:

Trying to find shortcuts or waiting for luck won't help you grow.

The hard truth I learned is that success comes from doing the work, day in and day out, and sticking to a plan.

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I insist: Start with analysing your Audience.

Do NOT skip this process. It’s one of the most important steps.

You will need it for the rest of the Sprints.

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It's not as glamorous or flashy as designing buildings.

But hey, this is the real way to build a successful architecture firm.

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Build your architectural firm step by step

My other favorite analogy for this is the following.

You're like at the base of a mountain shrouded in fog.

And you're looking up the mountain and you're trying to think like, “OK, how do I get up there?”

But you can only see three or four steps ahead because the fog is thick.

So you have to take steps into the unknown.

And when you take three steps, another three steps will reveal themselves in front of you.

And sometimes you end up in some local maximum, and you have to retrace your steps.

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But Architects don't usually take the steps into the fog, into the unknown.

Because it's scary. And they prefer to stay in the painful but known situation.

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That's why we've put together a carefully designed program for business-oriented architects.

To guide you step-by-step through the fog.

You can keep learning with our carefully crafted program.

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Starting a new Architecture Business?

Struggling to find customers?

Start with an affordable sprint.

And get your business off the ground with the coursework, resources and individual coaching sessions.

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Tired of trading time for money?

Want to scale without losing profit?

Continue by joining the MBA Program.

It’s a cohort based group, followed by coaching and accountability sessions to grow your architecture business.

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Feeling stuck, even after years of experience?

Need solution for six-figure problems?

Scale your business with 1:1 sessions.

And work closely with the most experienced mentors.

We've got you covered, my friend.

You can climb any mountain with us.

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I'll be straight with you

Starting your own architecture firm is tough, and it will take time.

You already have the know-how, the stuff you need, and all the right tools.

Every day you work on it, you're one step closer to being the amazing architect you're meant to be.

So aim high. And take little experiments that will lead you there.

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Let's build something especial, together.

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Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you with:

1. If you're still looking for traction in your architecture business, subscribe to the Wisdom for the Modern Architect Newsletter. Every week you will get actionable ideas, mental models and resources to help you build a profitable business.

2. In case you want to level up your business, you can get Full Access to the Global Architect Roadmap, and unlock Challenge & Solutions with all the resources and tools, exclusively reserved for our paid members, by Upgrading your Membership.

See you around,

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