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Engineering Your Startup: Everything You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Engineering Company

Sarah Venning

Engineering Your Startup: Everything You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Engineering Company

Whether you’re starting a fabrication business, or perhaps looking for mechanical engineering startup ideas, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, there’s a range of resources available if you’re looking to take the plunge and become your own boss.

How to Start an Engineering Company - The Basics:

Firstly, it’s important to adopt the right mindset and be realistic about your expectations. Startup engineering companies will face a number of challenges in their early days, along with others that persist throughout the lifetime of the business. This means that you can’t expect smooth sailing or overnight success – instead, you need to be prepared to be resilient and persevere at a manageable level of growth.

The other challenge facing owners of engineering startups in the UK is that of supporting yourself through the initial phases of the business’s establishment. Do you have a back-up plan in case works tails off? Can you continue to work part-time – at least at the beginning –  to cover your costs?

On this note, it’s especially important to keep a handle on your overheads in the early days. If you’re wondering how to start a metal fabrication business on a limited budget, then take a look at ways in which you can keep the costs down. For instance, can you house your equipment in a garage or workshop at home instead of hiring business premises? Limited overheads will not only give you a competitive edge, but they will also help to ease the financial stress you shoulder when starting an engineering company.

That’s not to say that becoming the owner of an engineering startup is not rewarding. The flexibility of choosing your own working hours, combined with having no-one to answer to, makes the prospect of starting your own engineering company especially appealing – it’s just important that you manage your expectations and go into it with open eyes.

What’s the Best Engineering Business to Start?

When deciding on the best engineering business to start, it’s going to come down to the market and your own skillset. For instance, those with experience in welding and laser cutting may look at starting a metal fabrication business, whereas people with a strong design background could decide to become the proud owner of a mechanical engineering startup. Employees are an unnecessary expense within the early days of an engineering business, meaning that you’ll want to tackle most – if not all – of the workload yourself. Therefore, there’s no point in starting a machine shop if you have no experience in machining, or pioneering an electrical engineering startup if you’ve spent the last twenty years in front of a lathe.

It’s also crucial that you study the market to keep an eye on upcoming trends. For instance, if you’re starting a steel fabrication business, then it’s vital that you assess whether there is an active need for those services in the market at that time. Remember, the buoyancy of the market can either make or break a UK engineering startup within the first few months of its existence.

If you’re looking for insight into the current health of the market, then why not check out Qimtek’s quarterly CMI report for an in-depth assessment?

Whether You’re Founding a Steel Fabrication Shop or a Mechanical Engineering Startup, You’ll Need a Solid Business Plan:

Any engineering firm worth their salt will have started with a foolproof business plan. A business plan clarifies your objectives and outlines your goals, as well as helping to identify any potential hurdles or problems you may face along the way.

So why is a business plan so important? Well, if you’re starting a metal fabrication business for instance, then chances are that you’ll require investment or a loan from a bank in order to cover any startup costs. Mechanical startups will need to consider machinery and plant purchase, which can add up to quite a sizeable figure that is difficult to finance on your own. Banks will want to study your fabrication shop’s business plan closely before deciding to part with their cash, meaning that considerable attention must be paid to this document before any potential investors are approached.

There are plenty of online resources available to help UK engineering startups write an effective business plan. You’ll find a number of useful links at the end of this article.

New Engineering Business – Ideas on How You Can Find Customers:

The problem that many owners of startup engineering companies face is finding new customers. Whilst many engineers who go it alone are highly skilled in their respective trades, most have never had to venture into the sales side of running a business. Starting a steel fabrication business is one thing, but finding new customers to make sure your business grows is quite another!

The thought of picking up the phone and speaking to potential new customers can be quite daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are plenty of ways that startup engineering companies can boost their brand awareness and form a relationship with manufacturing buyers, who can quickly turn into repeat customers.

Owners of UK engineering startups who have not donned their sales cap before may benefit from ‘warm’ introductions, as these are far more likely to convert into a customer than those made through cold calling. It might be worth making contact with buyers you have previously worked with in past employment, explaining that you’ve launched a mechanical startup and asking if you can discuss the possibility of working for them. Otherwise, trawl through your book of industry contacts and ask for referrals.

If you’re starting your own engineering company and want it to succeed, there’s no getting away from the fact that at some point, you will have to go outside of your pool of existing contacts to look for new business. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to forego the benefit of warm introductions though. Qimtek’s membership service can you provide with relevant enquiries - complete with technical drawings and buyer contact information - from manufacturing OEMs who have invited our members to quote them directly. This way, you can continue to enjoy warm introductions without the soul-destroying task of cold calling.

Qimtek has a proven track record of helping UK engineering startups find their feet - as well as new customers. If you’re a fabrication, machining, or mechanical startup, or perhaps even an electrical engineering startup, who would like to receive a steady stream of live engineering enquiries, then click here to find out more.

Remember - Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day!

It can take months - or even years to get your UK engineering startup to a point where you can support yourself financially, or hire employees. It’s so important not to become disheartened during the first frustrating few months, as the rewards are there for the taking by anyone who is considering starting a fabrication business or machining company.

Further Reading:

  • Gov UK has a number of helpful resources available. For information specific to the manufacturing industry, please click here. If you’re looking for help with writing a business plan, as well as links to free downloadable templates, then it’s worth visiting this page.
  • For more information on how Qimtek membership has helped UK engineering startups to find their next big customer, please click here.
  • If you’re looking for in-depth knowledge on the current trends within the UK manufacturing industry, then you can read the latest CMI report here.
  • We have a range of blogs available aimed at helping companies to improve their sales skills. These can all be accessed here.
  • Websites such as www.startupdonut.co.uk and www.greatbusiness.gov.uk are also full of invaluable information for startup engineering companies.

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About Sarah Venning

Sarah is a sales & marketing content writer, with six years of experience within the engineering & manufacturing industry.  Working both at Qimtek and on a freelance basis, she can usually be found hammering away at a keyboard or with her head in a pile of engineering drawings. 

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