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    Discussion in 'The business forum' started by DREngineering, Mar 7, 2010.

    1. DREngineering

      DREngineering New Member

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      I am beginning the research effort at determining how to start an engineering consultancy after retiring from my current employer. I would love to make contact with others who have already made the jump and to find out how they started their business, how they made contact with clients and the type of work they are doing now.

      My emphasis in engineering has been in mechanical design, 3-D exclusively, linear and nonlinear FEA, research and development and practical plant project engineering over almost 30 years. I also have worked as an engineering manager and have had experience in implementing advance high speed, hard machining processes for my current employer.

      I look forward to hearing from anyone who might be willing to offer advice and counsel.

      Thanks!
       
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    3. GarethW

      GarethW Chief Clicker Staff Member

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      Hi DREngineering,

      Welcome to the forum! I believe there are already quite a few people here who've taken the plunge and started a consultancy. Hopefully you can get all the advice and help you need here :)

      I have just moved this topic to a brand new part of the forum - "The business forum".

      Cheers,
      Gareth
       
    4. Camid

      Camid Well-Known Member

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      Hi DR
      I started up in 2007 having taken over an established business. This is obviously a lot easier in some respects than starting from scratch. I would be happy to have a chat. I have found it hard work but very rewarding. How to get new clients? I think that is one of the great mysteries...
      See link below for contact details.
      Cheers Alex

      ps do you have a web site up?
       
    5. RickStockton

      RickStockton Member

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      I'm building a consultancy, also. And getting the customer base is the big part.

      My best contacts so far have been through those one or two friends who know one or two friends who own or run companies. Getting face-to-face with them gives me a real opportunity to communicate what I can do for them to help them solve their problems. I recently created a graphic on my site (http://www.JRStockton.com) which the engineering manager said really helped illustrate what I could do for her department, so one or two graphics may help when it comes time to make a presentation.

      I started from a corporate layoff, with no customers, I have two at present, and need a dozen more. I'd love to offer you sage advise, but I think that I need knowledge more than have knowledge, when it comes to starting a business. I got my first customer by calling an old supplier.

      If you need a site, Register.com has worked well for me.

      On most all else — including gather new customers — I can use all the helpful info I can get!
       
    6. cwarner7_11

      cwarner7_11 Well-Known Member

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      My experience with running an engineering consulting business is that virtually all new customers of value come from referrals from previous satisfied customers. Do not burn bridges- maintain personal contacts with your previous employers. Do not try to sell a customer a solution to a problem he does not have, just because you have the capability. LISTEN to the customer. Understand what the customer really needs (which may or may not be what he thinks he needs). And bear in mind, when it comes your turn to finally speak, use language the customer can understand.
      I have made very good contacts through doing support work at a local university gratis, and participating in a local civic group has its merits as well. Community participation keeps your face in front of potential customers. Well worth the time required, and often times rewarding in and of itself.
       
    7. BlackandWhite

      BlackandWhite New Member

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      Hi,

      I set up my own Design Limited Company last year. I had an accountant set up the Limited part. This cost me £200. The accountant the does your books once a year. The rest is up to you regarding work and contracts etc. You have to put yourself around the contacts and try to get the work as and when you can. I am a Senior Mechanical Design Engineer with a leaning towards Product Design and engineering. If I can help at all I will.

      Kind regards

      AB ;)
       
    8. PWASS

      PWASS Well-Known Member

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      Hi

      I've been self employed since 1992, there's no need to go down the 'Limited' route, it's too expensive, accountancy costs are higher to satisfy Company's House. Just make sure that you are fully insured!

      I get most of my work through my website, it's worth spending some time/money on a good one.
       
    9. combustioneer

      combustioneer Member

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      Starting a consulting business

      I started in 2008 when a contractor who I worked with in my last positon working for the man asked me to help them develop a quotation for a large engineering project. I now get most of my referrals from vendors who supply the components to build the machines I design or consult on. I now consult with or design for several OEMs in the area. Parts vendors have long client lists and know who needs help . Make sure you have your insurance in place. Most clients require proof of insurance up front.
       
    10. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      I started by consulting part time in the evenings... I found my first few customers by looking at the engineering "help wanted" section of the newspaper. Many small shops don't really need a full time engineer but they never thought of hiring a contractor. After awhile, 100% of my business was referrals from other customers. At one point, I got a database of all potential customers within about a 100 mile radius and sent out a mass mailing (several hundred brochures). I got precisely one new customer from this.

      I went full time when I got laid off from my day job, taking what would have been months of part time work into a shorter time while I looked for new work. The economy was good, and it worked for a few years, though I was still slowly going broke, then as the economy soured, my biggest customer offered me a full time position and that was the end of my consulting career (though I still do the occasional side job for one of my earliest customers).

      Contrary to what combustioneer said, I have never been asked for insurance.

      Two things you will have to learn: One is when to turn down a bad offer. The second is when to turn down a good offer.
       
    11. srdfmc

      srdfmc Well-Known Member

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      Hi DREng,

      Consulting engineer can be really interesting but can be hard too as customer demands can vary greatly and is seasoned.

      I have been working that way myself since 2010 and now I am looking after the Nrth Am market.

      On what software do you plan to work and what is your prospective area?
       

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