1

N. of T.: This publication talks about Spanish values, since the original article is Spanish.

2

These estimates take no account of any potential initial offers or promotions since they represent the values that need to be considered in order to determine viability.

The cost of entrepreneuring

Bad. Very bad. There’s even a quote from Coelho. We’d only be off to a worse start if this post were entitled “Five reasons you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur”.

Still, this is what people want, so let’s begin.

“A young architect decided to start a new business venture. What happened next will surprise you…”

By the time you graduate, you will have spent at least 5, 6 or 7 years hearing that “you have to re-invent yourselves”, that “you have to retrain”, and other vacuous phrases that do one thing and one thing only: conceal the fact that everyone is completely bewildered by the current situation in the sector.

Nevertheless, and to the surprise of almost everyone, most architecture students actually want to become architects. Who would have guessed, right? As the saying goes, there is nothing more dangerous than a motivated dreamer. So you get ready to fly solo and start crunching the numbers:1

Self-employment 250 €/month
Membership 25 €/month
Insurance 25 €/month2
Coworking Shared Office 200 €/month
Phone 30 €/month
Transportation 50€/month
Tax consultancy 30 €/month
TOTAL 610 €/month

 

“Wow. Over six hundred euros a month worth of fixed costs.”

That’s when you understand why 9 in 10 companies go out of business before they complete their third year. Still, you don’t let that intimidate you. You grab your calculator: “Let’s see. How much do I have to make to cover my expenses?”.

That marks the next critical. You find out that the first 1000 euros you make every month are only good to cover your expenses. For the benefit of those of you who are still roaming the halls of the Schools of Architecture, a thousand euros add up to something like 10 Energy Performance Certificates, 2 or 3 short reports or one swimming pool design, in which case you’d also have to see how much membership and insurance costs amount to. And that’s only if your quote is competitive enough, which is something nobody told you anything about. But don’t worry, you can work it all out on websites like this one.
But bear in mind you might need to divide it by 2 or 3 and you may still be too expensive.

The first few months go by. You’re getting fewer calls from your friends now than when you were doing your final project. You can barely cover your expenses. Your family thinks you’ve joined a cult. You have no money, you have no time. All you think about is how to turn your studio into a profitable business. You work 16 hours a day, Monday to Sunday. With a little luck, you have someone to remind you that there is a life beyond licenses, public tenders and the square metre price of hydraulic tile flooring.

One night, in an act of dispair, you click on one of those ads you find on social networks that reads “5 strategies to get more clients” or “7 habits that make a successful entrepreneur”. You find out that, quite shamelessly, those who were unable to keep their studios afloat are now telling you what to do. “Earn more”, “work less”, “expand”, “take chances”, “specialise”.

It all worked out brilliantly for them, you can tell.

A year goes by, and then another, and then another. What your make off a job you have to spend to cover the costs of the next one, but the wheel seems to have started churning. Inevitably, you end up going to one of those summertime dinner parties where you get to see your friends – those friends you used to have before committing heart and soul to your project. You realise that working 40 hours a week for a regular pay cheque wasn’t actually that bad an option, or that perhaps reporting to a boss is not as bad as being your every client’s employee. Not to mention paid holidays.

So the next time somebody says “Hey loser, why don’t you start your own business?”, remember the advice Bukowski gave to aspiring young writers:

“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you,
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
Unless it comes, unasked, out of your heart
your mind, your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.”


Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página
1

N. of T.: This publication talks about Spanish values, since the original article is Spanish.

2

These estimates take no account of any potential initial offers or promotions since they represent the values that need to be considered in order to determine viability.

Autor:
(Murcia, 1986) Arquitecto y Arquitecto Técnico por la UCAM. Dirige el blog Pedacicos Arquitectónicos junto a Antonio Navarro y Juan Francisco Martínez además de MetaSpace Blog junto a Manuel Saga, desarrollando paralelamente su labor profesional en el campo de la construcción, el diseño y la docencia.

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