“When working for a company, you only do things that you are told to do. But owning your engineering firm gives you the freedom to pursue your ideas” – Aaron Moncur
In this episode, I interviewed Aaron Moncur, a mechanical engineer who runs a mechanical design firm called Pipeline Design & Engineering and the host of the podcast “Being an Engineer,” a podcast that collects and shares industry knowledge and best practices associated with the discipline of engineering. We talked about his career journey and how he went from being laid off to starting an engineering firm.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed in the Episode:
- In 2009, Aaron was laid off from his job as a mechanical engineer designing medical devices. Instead of finding another job, he started his own company called Pipeline Design & Engineering, figured out how to develop a team, and began supporting the medical device industry with custom equipment.
- Pipeline Design & Engineering focuses on developing custom turnkey RND test and manufacturing equipment for medical device companies.
- If you do not enjoy what you are doing in your career, you could become disengaged from your work and have less interaction with the people you work with. It could cause you to be selected as one of the people to be laid off if the company faces difficulties. Getting laid off will impact you mentally and physically, but it could be the best thing that could happen to you.
- You might feel that you do not like engineering after being laid off. Maybe you should take some time to explore different things and find something you do like. Remember that you have taken a lot of time learning to become an engineer. Maybe it is not the engineering you do not like, but rather how you were doing the engineering.
- To get started in engineering again, consider doing some freelance work. You might find that you like the high-level ownership of the entire process, which can be transformational for you. You will no longer be doing a small part in the project that someone has told you to do, but you will be architecting and executing the entire process. You might find that you still love engineering, but you want to oversee how it is done.
- You might also feel that you do not want anyone else involved, nor do you want to manage a team. You want to manage yourself and your time only. Continue doing this until you get to a stage where you cannot handle all the work by yourself. Start using contractors to get the work done until you feel the need to get your first employee. Continue working this way and slowly add people to your team when you think it is necessary.
- You will get to a stage where you want to have a more established company to grow. This is the time when you should get business coaching and join groups that will help you to grow. Read a lot about business development and educate yourself.
- To start your engineering firm, you must enjoy taking high-level problems, breaking them down into their separate components, and taking on each of the segments in a logical and organized manner. You should be good at time management because you will feel compelled to overwork, which can cause problems in your personal life.
- To facilitate growth in individual engineers, ask the senior engineers in your company to step into project management roles. Establish guides that will give them a foundation to follow. Have short weekly meetings to find out how things are going and where you can help them. Mentoring these engineers will be extremely helpful for them. Let them mentor the younger engineers so that they too are helping others to do the project work.
- As your engineering firm grows, you will find the need to have more defined processes. Set goals to get your engineering firm certified in things like the ISO 9001 standard. ISO 9001 is a business management system. It lets you think through how every facet of your engineering firm is run and get the proper processes in place. It will help you to get a leadership team in place to take on some of the work.
- When working for a company, you only do what people tell you to do. By owning your engineering firm, you have the freedom to pursue your ideas. You can take risks and hold destiny in your own hands.
- When starting an engineering firm, it is vitally important to find mentors. You never know where a crucial piece of information or idea is going to come from. Having coaches, mentors, and like-minded groups is a great way to expose yourself to new ideas. Decide on a niche that your engineering firm should focus on. Focus your sales efforts on a small group rather than a large group of people and remember that persistence and hard work are more important than being smart.