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B.C. engineer starts consulting business focusing on "green" building projects

CompanySR Alexander Engineering Ltd.
Industry:Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
City:Victoria, British Columbia
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Consulting business offers green solutions

As project manager for a large contractor on Vancouver Island, Victoria's Stefan Alexander was responsible for contracting work on major projects. But while working on Dockside Green, a major harbourfront eco-residential and eco-industrial development, he also found himself called upon to share his knowledge speaking at conferences and events and running workshops. Combine that with earlier design experience, and he realized he was ready to expand his scope beyond what his current position allowed. He'd strike out on his own to offer design and construction solutions for traditional and sustainable, "green" building projects at his very own consulting business.

Making the move into self-employment

He made the move, establishing SR Alexander Engineering Ltd., and he's already gearing up for various projects. "I have some people that I have worked with in the past and am partnering with in some developments now, doing some sustainability consulting with them," he says. "Im doing some smaller structural designs things that can be handled in a week or two, or a couple months, instead of taking a project on that would be two or three years. That way I can diversify myself."

Alexander recently attended a national conference in Vancouver, where he began networking making and re-establishing contacts. He's looking at working with some large eastern Canadian companies that do major developments, including work for the Australian and UK Olympics; and he has more sustainability consulting projects coming online.

New consulting business needs business plan to obtain grants

To date, he has self-financed his business, but in addition to his engineering and design background, Alexander has business experience, and he knew the importance of a business plan both for direction and for financing. "I have been applying for grants as well small business grants or leadership grants to help out with start-up costs," he says. "And I wanted to have a business plan prepared so that I could continue to work on my own, instead of taking the time out to do it."

Working with the Centre for Business Plan Development was a two-way street, in that Alexander provided his own insight to the development of the plan, but it took a huge weight off his shoulders, freeing him to concentrate on his own work. "A lot of the market analysis was the time consuming issue that I didnt think Id be able to perform as accurately as someone who has a massive database of information," he says.

Learning from others

He advises start-up entrepreneurs to seek outside help and resources. "Whether or not you know all the steps, it's important to find someone that can help get to the next steps." He was surprised by a few factors he hadn't considered initially. "There was the process of getting my liability insurance, and even my business name because with engineering you need to actually have your name approved not only by the board in the province, but also by the technical association, in order to use the word 'engineering' in your company name. So you might get hung up, but if you have a resource, you can find out what direction you need to go in." He also suggests you keep a list of items or tools you'll need down the road, so you can plan ahead. "Then, you can do it in your downtime, when you're not 100 percent full steam ahead."

Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-800-481-8434.

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