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How to Navigate Large Projects as a Small Business – Tips for Growing Your PM/CM Firm

MCK was founded in 2000, with zero employees and remained very small for first several years. In 2009, we hired our first project manager and from there have grown to a team worth talking about. Today, we work on a variety of different projects, including one with a budget of over $1B!

As a new business what you may be thinking is how do I get projects for my business? Or how does a small business break into Construction Management industry?

Here are some tips for growing your small Project Management / Construction Management firm to be successful on mega projects.

Participate in public sector local and small business programs:

Public agencies exist for the good of their communities, so they are the first to recognize the value of supporting local business. Agencies across the nation provide incentives for local business (LBE), small business (SBE), women-owned business (WBE), minority business (MBE) and disadvantaged business (DBE), to name a few popular ones. The intent of these programs is to open the door to opportunities that small businesses wouldn’t traditionally be able to compete for. The agencies benefit from a more vast talent pool, more competitive contracting and often a boost in local economies.

On mega-projects, there are two ways for small firms to participate:

1. Partner with other small firms. For example, MCK is part of a JV Prime partnership with three other firms on the $1B SFO Terminal 3 Modernization Project (pictured)

2. Provide specialty services as a subconsultant to a large firm. The large company gets the benefit of added expertise, and likely incentive points in the public selection process, and your company gains considerable experience and new clients.

The whole idea is that one day, you grow out of these programs and become a mentor to other small businesses.

Nurture client relationships and become a provider of choice:

Trust and dependability will take you a long way in earning follow on work with existing clients. Providing consistently great service, developing relationships and successfully taking the stress and management duties off of your client will make you an easy choice for future projects. Client relationships also turn into referrals for new clients and, hopefully, big complex projects.

Establish your firm as a specialty expert:

Although we now do all types of projects, MCK’s roots are in Water and Wastewater. As we continue to grow, we have also distinguished ourselves through our exceptional estimating team. Like the other tips above, your specialty will get your foot in the door and opportunities are limitless from there.

Once you land a mega project, make sure your company has the capacity to support it. In addition to experience, you’ll need adequate financial backing, solid industry relationships and resources (sometimes even experts need help), and of course the right staff.

Check out some of MCK’s projects to see how we’ve grown our experience over the years.

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