At EntreArchitect, you’re encouraged to share your knowledge. When we share with other architects, we all benefit. We are able to learn from one another and the profession will grow. One of the goals of EntreArchitect is to provide a platform for other entrepreneur architects to share their stories.
We want to interview you! What’s your story? Do you want to share your knowledge or the story about how you were inspired to pursue this profession? How do you become an entrepreneur architect?
Join us for our series called The Entrepreneur Architect, where each guest has the opportunity to share their story and answer some questions that will provide value to each of you.
This week on EntreArchitect Podcast, The Entrepreneur Architect Series featuring Daniel Robey.
Daniel is a landscape architect and the owner of Huntlands Landscape Architecture in Northern Virginia. He has a bachelor’s from Clemson in Landscape Architecture and is a licensed professional architect in the state of Virginia, a LEED Green Associate and a multi-award winning designer. He lives in Virginia with his wife Murphy and his three kids, Maris, Charlie and Hank.
Daniel’s Origin Story
Daniel started out loving to draw and always thought he wanted to draw cartoons. In high school, he fell in love with golf and everything in his life began to revolve around it. When he had to figure out what he wanted to do after high school, he fell upon architecture at a local golf course that was under construction. When he walked around the grounds with the architect, Daniel realized that was what he wanted to do.
He knew that to get into golf course architecture he needed to have a name or professional behind him, so he did a number of internships: one for a land-planning company, one for residential install work, and another for the Charleston parks department. He was exposed to different avenues. After college he worked for a land planning civil engineering firm in Charlotte. Daniel felt he wasn’t doing a whole lot of creative work, so he planned to move to the residential side of things right before the birth of his first child.
He moved from a smaller company to a large residential design build firm. This past year, he opened his his own business doing high-end landscape architecture.
The Entrepreneur Architect Questions
What does a landscape architect do?
Daniel does high-end residential architecture. He works with elements of plantings, hardscape, architectural structures, water features and everything that ties it together like lighting, audio, and more.
What is one big goal you’ve achieved in your career and how did you get there?
Daniel didn’t ever dream of starting his own business, but it became clear that that was the best thing for him to do to advance his career. When he came to that conclusion, it was a huge goal for him to set out to achieve. He did a ton of reading, research, podcast-listening, and more to get as much business information as he could.
What are the pros to starting your own business?
It’s allowed Daniel more flexibility to be home with his family and to be involved with his kids.
What struggles have you gone through?
Early on, Daniel struggled with the simple things like setting his email up to issues building his contracts. He’s in a different area than where he worked previously, so he’s working to establish himself in a tightly-knit circle.
What are you doing to establish yourself?
Daniel reaches out to local architects, builders, interior designers, contractors, and others to share his business with them. He works to do direct marketing to professionals he wants to collaborate with, and that way he can reach out more directly to the people who he can work with. He’s also joined a number of local networking groups for small business owners and custom builders. It’s outside of his comfort zone, but he’s enjoyed pushing his boundaries and meeting new people.
What was your biggest “aha” moment?
Daniel’s biggest realization was that he needed to try his hardest to get his business to work out, but if he couldn’t for any reason, he could always get a job.
What makes you unique?
In Daniel’s area, there’s more design-build businesses than people doing what he’s doing. What he brings to the table is his experience designing and managing everything from ordering materials to working with contractors. Additionally, he tries to focus on hand graphics and the craft movement.
At what age did you decide to become a landscape architect? Around 16-17 years old
What’s your target market? Custom homebuilders for high-end residential, marketing more toward architects and home builders
What’s your fee structure? Conceptual design and construction detailing are usually stipulated sum, project administration is all hourly
Other than architecture, what makes you happy? Family, coaching kids’ sports, golfing
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? After you graduate, work three jobs in your first five years to find your niche.
What’s one personal habit that contributes to your success? Disciplined scheduling and taking time for himself
What’s a book you’d recommend? Architect and Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business by Eric W Reinholdt and The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
What kind of systems do you have in place? Lead tracking, invoicing; tracking things helps me feel more in control of the process
What’s a parting piece of guidance? Get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there!
What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business tomorrow?
“Work on business development every day. Get out there, do research and reach out to people. See what’s going on in your area.” – Daniel Robey
Want to be a guest on the entrepreneur architect series? Connect with us on any social media platform or email [email protected]!
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Referenced in this Episode
EA084: Field Guide Series Building, Branding and Marketing Your Startup Design Business with Eric Reinholdt [Podcast]
EA089: Field Guide Series Passive Income for Small Firm Architects [Podcast]
EA097: Field Guide Series How to Self-Publish Your Book as a Small Firm Architect [Podcast]
EA099: Field Guide Series Marketing Your Self-Published Book as a Small Firm Architect [Podcast]