In this episode, we talk to Peter Vanderzee, President and CEO at LifeSpan Technologies, about his career journey and experience transitioning from electronics to chemical to environmental to geotechnical and then finally to structural engineering. He also shares some great strategies and tips for the startup engineering business owner.

Engineering Quotes:

Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Peter:

You moved from electronics to chemical to environmental to geotechnical and then finally to structural engineering in your career. How were you able to switch between so many different engineering disciplines, seemingly with ease?

What are some of the pros and cons of working for the government, big businesses, small businesses, and startup companies?

What are the key skills engineers must develop to succeed with any employer?

What were the biggest challenges you faced after starting LifeSpan Technologies?

How about your biggest disappointments and successes with LifeSpan Technologies?

After 50+ years working, did you have a satisfying career, and are you planning to retire, or are you planning to continue working?

What advice would you give young engineers when starting their careers?

Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Going from Engineer to Successful Business Owner:

There are many challenges to face if you are thinking of becoming a business owner. Staffing can be a problem because you will need to find people who are willing to help you get the company off the ground. You have to decide if you will need third-party financing or not and you will need to find someone who will design and configure your hardware and software.

Marketing can also be a challenge, especially if your company’s niche is not something mainstream. Marketing and engineering are two different roads. Marketing requires non-conceptional and non-linear thinking and can be difficult to develop the value proposition so that it becomes a compelling story. You must find what it is that you are going to tell your potential clients that will make them take out their wallets and hand you money.

If you want to become a business owner, reduce the risks by thinking of a way that you can get it started with no overhead. It will have a big impact on who you choose to work with you, and you will need to use subcontractors to get the work done in the beginning. Use the media to spread your marketing message instead of paid advertising.

Allow your customers to support your marketing funds and grow the business by doing personal visits, conferences, and presentations. Find a compatible firm in your area that would be willing to do installations for you. The firm would provide you with working capital and dramatically reduce your risks. Avoid doing competitive bidding and instead do sole source procurements.

Find a way to explain how your customers will achieve a return on their investment in your marketing, messaging, and value proposition. Let your client understand that if they use your solution and the structure you are monitoring is in better structural condition than thought, a major repair or replacement can be deferred. It produces a substantial financial benefit for the owner.

It is a good idea for a business owner to keep a record of the successes and failures that your company experiences as it will help to make plans for the future of your company by having guidelines to deal with the good and the bad things that can come across your company's path.

Marketing and innovation are the only two areas in a business that creates value. The foundational principles that you learned as an undergrad are crucial if you need to move your business in multiple discipline directions. There are key concepts that are similar in the various fields and ...

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