The Business Behind Design

Behind all great architecture and engineering work there needs to be an efficient, effective business operation in place. In his Business Behind Design blog, Steven Burns, FAIA, Chief Creative Officer for BQE Software—the company behind Core—and long-time managing director of an architectural practice, offers valuable advice about running a design firm. Topics include project management tips, financial best practices, marketing how-tos, plus advice for maximizing meetings, business software, recruitment and retention, and strategic planning. For more on BQE Software, visit:
February 01, 2018 | Steven Burns

Simple changes to your daily habits can help increase efficiency and profits.

Architects | January 03, 2018 | Steven Burns

Follow these networking strategies to grow your architectural business with the work that you want.

December 28, 2017 | Steven Burns

While standard financial accounting is essential for the health of your business, project accounting helps drive the success of individual projects...

Architects | December 12, 2017 | Steven Burns

The most cited issues are communication breakdowns, inadequate fees for the work provided, and unrealistic deadlines or schedules.

November 30, 2017 | Steven Burns

There are techniques you can use with your invoices that both highlight your firm’s value and make the process more convenient for clients.

Architects | November 16, 2017 | Steven Burns

Many small AEC firms don’t feel they have the time to focus and create clear marketing messages.

BIM and Information Technology | November 08, 2017 | Steven Burns

While AEC firms may not have the vast quantity of financial information that certain other types of businesses do, the confidential and sensitive i...

AEC Tech | November 03, 2017 | Steven Burns

Having a clearly defined competitive brand and a fine-tuned marketing approach can give your firm a significant competitive advantage.

Industry Research | October 26, 2017 | Steven Burns

Here are 5 ways to avoid a cash crunch by doing your part to help clients make their payments on time.

AEC Tech | October 19, 2017 | Steven Burns

For firms looking to propel their architectural design services to new heights and levels of sophistication, a consolidated cloud-based platform is...

Designers | October 03, 2017 | Steven Burns

Generally speaking, millennials want to be where the action is.

Building Team | September 21, 2017 | Steven Burns

Projects are the backbone of the way you do business. Isn’t it time that you step up their analysis?

How to fix 3 common mistakes AEC teams make in project interviews
Building Team | December 16, 2015 | Steven Burns

In a LinkedIn post, Scott Johnson, business writing specialist at Johnson Training Group, highlights three common missteps that AEC firms make duri...

Why employee advocacy is key to social media success
Building Team | December 07, 2015 | Steven Burns

Employee advocacy is key to boosting social media engagement, and employee advocacy is about more than just the promotion of a firm’s brand.

5 ways to bring data into marketing and business development
Building Team | November 30, 2015 | Steven Burns

Here are five ways to use data to enhance the client acquisition process

The benefits of selling your firm to employees

Other benefits of selling a firm to employees is the opportunity to mentor the next generation of employees and providing your clients with continuity. Photo: Flickr/

Building Team | November 17, 2015 | Steven Burns

One business advisor recommends professional services businesses to develop a group of employees who are willing and able to buy the business

Building Team | November 02, 2015 | Steven Burns

Hiring for culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same

Building Team | August 25, 2015 | Steven Burns

By analyzing the “benchmark firms” selected from its annual surveys, PSMJ has identified several characteristics that distinguish top performers...

Understanding the values and aspirations of millennials

Only 28 percent of millennials believe that their organization is taking full advantage of their skills, research from Deloitte revealed.

Building Team | August 20, 2015 | Steven Burns

A recent LinkedIn workplace survey revealed that millennials (defined as individuals aged 18–24) are quite different from boomers (those aged 55–65...

How to improve project planning
Building Team | August 11, 2015 | Steven Burns

A recent research project revealed that more than 75 percent of project owners have no consistent method for assessing project risks and setting bu...

According to research by talent management firm Development Dimensions International, 89% of leaders with strong interaction skills have more engaged teams. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

Building Team | July 10, 2015 | Steven Burns

Much of what’s written about employee engagement focuses on how leaders can help their employees become more involved at work. But what about the l...

How to earn respect as a leader
Building Team | June 18, 2015 | Steven Burns

Employees will give you minimum effort if the only reason they respect you is for your authority

Is your firm social enough?
Building Team | June 09, 2015 | Steven Burns

The overwhelming majority of A/E/C firms are engaged in social media.

But to what end? 

Succession planning starts with developing your leaders

A leadership-succession process should involving mentoring and coaching. Photo: HA0521-021/Flickr.

Building Team | June 03, 2015 | Steven Burns

Two-thirds of U.S. companies still admit that they have no formal succession plan in place, a 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of...

Why it’s so hard to figure out what to pay top talent
Building Team | April 03, 2015 | Steven Burns

Is your firm’s approach to compensation effective in today’s rapidly changing talent market?

Are face-to-face meetings still important?

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference.

Building Team | March 17, 2015 | Steven Burns

One CEO looks pass convenience and advocates for old school, in-person meetings.

How to give feedback effectively

If initial feedback doesn’t resonate, effective leaders also know how to turn up the pressure in a way that is progressive, but not too sharp.

Building Team | March 06, 2015 | Steven Burns

A great feedback-giving leader evaluates the individual

What your employees really want

Employers can support employees' personal growth by encouraging them to take courses online or be mentored by more senior employees. Photo courtesy of Evan Bench/Wikimedia Commons.

Building Team | February 24, 2015 | Steven Burns

Here are key aspects of a job that keep employees happy

Why diversity at work matters

In the U.S., there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance, a study by McKinsey found. Photo: Monisha Pushparaj/Wikimedia Commons

Building Team | February 17, 2015 | Steven Burns

Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry med...

The 4 leadership behaviors that really matter McKinsey & Company

Using a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, McKinsey surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world.

January 30, 2015 | Steven Burns

It includes seeking diverse perspectives and supporting others.

Overlay Init