Civil Engineer Seeks to Reposition His Company


I heard your talk at the CHEC conference recently.  Thanks for your personal choices coupled with God's Grace!  My business can most definitely use the help New Venture Lab provides.  I own a Civil Engineering business (3.5 years old) and Land Survey Business (just starting).  I need help in either (1) taking these things to the next level or (2) changing focus.  I am considering changing due to the poor land development market.  I think the business industry has too many land consultants competing for a shrinking base of customers.  I would appreciate any of your thoughts.


Since you already have skills, expertise and your own company structure, it sounds like the key thing for you to focus on is to refocus to a more vibrant market given the current housing downturn.  I would suggest looking to adjacent markets where can simply redirect your same skills.  For example, in many large metro areas at the moment, even though single family housing is in a sharp downturn, there is still a tremendous amount of commercial construction activity.
As you look to refocus your company and market, I would first suggest that you review you evaluation criteria so you can make wise choices based upon clear thinking rather than simply jumping on the next customer that comes along.
As described in the Building a Business from Start to Finish at the CHEC conference, I would suggest reviewing and defining your Spiritual, Personal and Business evaluation criteria along these lines:

  • Spiritual evaluation criteria:
    • God-honoring business concept
    • Does not cause anyone to stumble
    • Value-added product or service; promotes increase
  • Personal evaluation criteria:
    • Your spiritual gifts
    • Your passion to serve others
    • Your abilities
    • Your personality
    • Your experiences
    • Your ideal context
    • Your resources
  • Business evaluation criteria: (see the Analysis section for more on this)
    • Industry
    • Financial
    • Operational
    • Product/Service
    • Customer

Given your review of your evaluation criteria, here are a couple of ideas that come to mind for you based upon your background and since single family housing is in a nadir, I will focus these scenarios on commercial real estate clients, which will always be much more lucrative in any market condition due to their sheer size in terms of a potential engagement.

  • Use your civil engineering skills in the commercial arena as a building inspector.  Scenarios here can get very specific where you focus only on certain types of facilities or where you do certain types of inspections, such as "commissioning" inspections where you provide a quality assurance "audit" of a new facility prior to a tenant occupying it.
  • You could also move into performing facilities management and maintenance.  You can potentially line up recurring contractual customer relationships where you periodically inspect facilities and have the added revenue potential of providing repairs (potentially through sub-contractors) when you discover the need during the inspections.
  • You could create a specialty niche where you create facilities management plans for facilities that lack them.  Over time you could create quite an expertise on particular systems and subsystems and how to best manage and maintain them.  Intellectual property potential would include pre-packed facilities management plans in book or CD form.
  • You could potentially create a very nice business by "greening" commercial buildings.  Image a value proposition where you save commercial clients up to 40% of their current energy costs by reconditioning and upgrading their facilities to a greener standard. 

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