How to Run A Business Without a Business Degree (Four things they didn’t teach you in architecture school)

Chris Landis’ published this article as part of his membership in the Washington Business Journal’s Leadership Trust.

Architecture schools teach professional students about their craft, yet they fail to engage them with information about the business they will be entering. At the age of 35, I started my own design/build firm out of my attic with my then-29-year-old brother. Having moved to Washington, D.C., from New York City during the recession of the early 1990s, and with no previous professional residential remodeling experience, my first few years in business were not easy — but I loved it.

With a certificate for a master’s degree in architecture framed and hanging on my attic wall, I spent days on job sites doing handyman work and plastering the town with printed advertisements, and nights poring over paperwork. It was a full year before I was able to sell design work to a residential client. My wife had the steady job in our family, paying the monthly mortgage on the house we had just bought, while I was working day and night to get our business off the ground.

Architecture school did not prepare me for any of this…

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