How do I set up a design office? The 4 steps

Discover the steps involved in setting up a technical consultancy: defining your offer, choosing your legal structure, launching and developing your business.

Are you considering establishing your own technical study office ? Congratulations on this entrepreneurial endeavor! Before diving in, many questions arise. In this article, OOTI will guide you through all the key steps to build your project and set up a consulting firm. Follow the guide!

1st Step: Conceptualize and plan your service offering

To create your consulting firm, you must begin by defining your service offering. This involves addressing several essential questions:

What is the positioning of your consulting firm?

You can specialize (e.g., in energy renovation), diversify your activities (project management, consultancy, training, etc.), or choose to innovate (BIM, augmented reality, participative design).

Who is your target clientele?

You need to determine the target clients for your projects, whether they are from the public, private, or mixed sector.

What is your market, and who is your competition?

Analyze your environment by identifying opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses using the SWOT method (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). This analytical matrix allows you to visualize development prospects and potential pitfalls.

What are your rates and fees?

Determine the fees to charge clients, considering the nature, complexity, and time dedicated to the project. Define payment terms according to the contract and ensure transparent, competitive, and profitable pricing.

What is your business plan?

This document describes your consulting firm project, including finances, operations, and marketing, to evaluate its feasibility, set and achieve your goals, and persuade your partners.

2nd Step: Choose your legal structure

To establish your technical study office, select an appropriate legal structure :

It will influence your rights, obligations, social protection, and taxation. This choice depends on whether you work alone or with a team and your status as an employee or independent professional.

To choose the legal structure that suits your project, take into account:

  • Your personal situation: your assets, family situation, tax situation, etc.
  • Your professional project: your activity, turnover, profitability, growth, etc.
  • Your needs and objectives: autonomy, security, flexibility, tax optimization, etc.

Do not hesitate to seek advice from an accountant, lawyer, or legal advisor if needed. Seeking the advice of a professional is highly recommended for this often underestimated step. Opting for the right legal framework is essential to avoid compromising your development.

3rd Step: Establish your technical consulting firm

To finalize the establishment of your consulting firm, choose:

  • The location: at your home, in a commercial space, in a co-working space, etc.
  • The equipment, furniture, and software you need: computer, scanner, printer, plotter, drafting table, CAD software... and OOTI software as your technical study office's management tool!

To make the right choices, identify:

  • Your needs: performance, reliability, ergonomics, compatibility, etc.
  • Your budget: purchase cost, maintenance cost, consumption cost, etc.
  • Your evolution: updates, renewals, expansions, etc.

You can seek assistance from a supplier, technician, or IT expert to help you make the right choice.

4th Step: Develop your consulting firm's activities

To launch your consulting firm, it is essential to develop a tailored marketing strategy to attract and retain clients, establish partnerships, and ensure its prosperity.

What are the tools and communication channels to promote your consulting firm?You have several options for tools and communication channels, depending on whether you want to communicate online or offline, passively or actively, on a large or small scale, etc.: website, social media, blog, newsletter, business card, brochure, portfolio...

What are the prospecting techniques and methods to find clients?

Several prospecting techniques and methods are available to find new clients:

  • Word-of-mouth (recommendations from clients or other partners)
  • Calls for tenders
  • Networking (events, associations, clubs, etc.)
  • Trade shows (as a visitor or exhibitor)
  • Follow-up and follow-through (prospect tracking).

What are the actions and measures for customer retention?

Determine your retention strategy, whether active or passive, individual or collective, occasional or regular, to maintain your client base through:

  • Optimal satisfaction
  • Rigorous quality
  • Adherence to deadlines
  • Transparent and competitive rates
  • Personalized after-sales service
  • Enhanced loyalty

What are the types and levels of partnerships to develop your consulting firm?

Here is a list of possible types and levels of partnerships to develop your consulting firm:

  • Subcontracting
  • Co-contracting
  • Collaboration with one or more other service providers
  • Association with one or more other service providers

Between theory and practice, there can sometimes be a gap, especially when you are in your early stages! You will find many valuable tips and tools on the internet to put your business on the right track.

However, there is one piece of advice that is more valuable than others and is too often overlooked: trust yourself. It is an essential foundation before asking your clients to do the same.

For everything else, there's OOTI. So don't hesitate: our team is here to assist you!

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