Practice Management Q+A with Nic Owen

What systems do you use and would recommend for day to day administration and running of your architecture practice?

I learnt a lot about the importance of productive systems when working for a number of small architectural practices. I saw people consistently ‘reinventing the wheel’ in a most inefficient manner and I have worked hard to try and create efficient systems in my own practice.   Every time I do a task, I know I will be doing it again so I save it for reuse. For me anything which is word / text based is a chore, ie a long detailed email explaining something, so I will file this for reuse.

I created an excel based invoicing system. I spent almost a full week creating this (much to the dismay of my wife at the time). But the time savings for generating monthly invoices has been well worth the effort. I tried a number of daily time sheet apps but I still prefer to manually write it down – old school approach – I simply record in my sketch book. I transcript the hours at the end of the month into my excel spread sheet for invoicing.

As far as iphone apps go:

  • ‘Fantastical’ – great calendar app – much better then apple version
  • ‘Clear’ – great to do list, very easy to use and a must for me to achieve things.

 What do you now know about running a small business that you wish you had known when you were starting out?

  • Have confidence in yourself and your ability – even if you do not think you are an expert – you still know more than your clients!
  • You don’t have to be a slave to your business, time wise – take breaks / holidays to rejuvenate and recharge your creativity.
  • It is important to make every job your best – but you also have your whole life ahead of you to improve / finesse your design and there will always be another project ahead to improve and get closer to the truth of your convictions.

What are your top three tips for running a successful small practice?

Marketing: Take the opportunity to market everything (good projects) – social media, magazines, awards etc – let people know you exist! Also your website is your shopfront to the world- make it the best you possibly can.

Passion: Love what you do, believe in what you do – or do something different – a bit harsh but so true.

Time management: Be in control of your time – work the times / days that fit your lifestyle – not what is expected.

Tell us a little bit about your practice

I started Nic Owen Architects back in late 2006 with the undertaking of my first residential project, a small renovation / extension in East Brighton. At the time I was still working for another practice and managed to work part time and run the emerging practice for a further few more years until I made the leap to work solely on my own.

My wife Josie has a Fine Arts background and works part time in the business. With the addition of a new baby boy, both of our time and commitments are somewhat challenged at the moment.
Our work consists mainly of bespoke residential projects. Most of these are renovations and extensions to period homes in the inner north.

Learn more Nic’s practice by visiting his website: