Small firms act big: A different (and powerful) route to success

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Utile design home page

Utile, Inc.’s home page

The attached SMPS Marketer article: Small firms act big provides first- hand examples explaining how you can build a practice or business far larger and more influential than your size would normally allow, by thinking forward, contributing to your community innovatively and encouraging collaboration and co-operation with employees, clients and (in many cases) community and international organizations.

You’ll enjoy the inspiring stories. The final example, describing Utile Design Group in Boston, MA, includes a sidebar outlining its guidelines on “Positioning the Practice.” This advice is timeless, and undoubtedly will apply to your own business or practice, as well:

  1. Focus on a specific place.
  2. Focus on the repeatable and not just the one-off.
  3. Communicate and test your growing expertise by writing and teaching.
  4. The design of everything matters.
  5. Focus on your client’s priorities.
  6. Collect smart people.
  7. Run your design firm like a think tank

While I’ve received credit as co-author, Nancy Egan and Marjanne Pearson carried the primary load in conceptualizing, researching, and writing the article. However, I enjoyed spending several hours at detective work seeking examples of other successful businesses and practices that met the article’s qualifications: They needed to be forward-thinking AND relatively small. After quite a bit of research and sifting, I reported on Philadelphia-based parking consultants Timothy Haas And Associates, Inc., who have achieved credibility through contributions to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific’s report on low-carbon green growth. The consultants’ success in learning how to reduce the need for parking (by integrating it into transit-friendly communities) might seem counter-intuitive, until you realize that parking structures cost money and developments can be less expensive and thus more feasible if the owners/designers can show how less parking is actually necessary.

While the story is copyrighted and generally available only to SMPS members, authors/contributors can provide the information on our websites, so I’m doing it here. This research is the tip of the iceberg on what you can learn through the Marketer, which is available when you are are a member.  Visit smps.org for more information.

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