Business degrees can easily transition to entrepreneurship. That is the natural course for those who took a business course in college. But with others, the idea of being in a business is not too noticeable. Engineering courses, in particular, will have a more challenging time transitioning into entrepreneurship unless your family already owns a construction business or engineering firm. Most engineering students and professionals have to make do with what little they have after graduation—the tools afforded to them by their college degrees.
Even engineers who took the time to earn an MBA or master’s in business administration will have a hard time getting into an engineering or construction business because of the lack of capital, network, connections, and experience. Still, those of you who have both an engineering and business degree will have a better capability to eventually open and run your own business.
The best business idea for many engineers is to have their own construction business. Engineers who dabble in general contractor business end up doing well themselves. They get a percentage of the total amount of the project so that they can provide well for their families. However, not everyone is cut out for starting a construction business because not everyone has the capital and connections.
The best advice you can get is to make sure you have a good credit history so that you can be eligible for a business loan and to look at the possibility of buying used heavy construction equipment because they are more cost-efficient. Instead of renting one when you need them or purchasing new models, used construction equipment is economical. When there are no projects, you can even rent them out to small construction firms like yours. It serves a double purpose.
If you do not have the stomach to start a construction business just yet, why not become a consultant? Engineers can work with companies to improve their technical capabilities since this is one of the engineers’ strongest suits. They can help in solving problems in technical and logistical processes. The good thing about being a consultant is the flexible hours. You can work anytime and from anywhere. You are not technically an employee of the company, so you can take on as many clients as possible.
But as a consultant, you need excellent communication and analytical skills. These will make you a great team player. Plus, you can build relationships that will be beneficial once you are ready to start your own firm. You can start this business from the comfort of your own home. The required capital is usually so small that your savings will be enough.
Artificial intelligence, robotics, and the internet of things are massive billion-dollar industries. This means that there are plenty of startups entering these ventures. Startups, especially, are in dire need of engineers who can design and produce the hardware needed by the programs and software they create. You can do this on a per-project basis so that you will not be tied to any one company. As a freelancer, you can take on as many product design projects as possible. As long as you can comply with the requirements and the deadlines, you have a strong opportunity in this field.
Teaching, Training, and Writing
Interest in engineering and other technical courses is at an all-time high because of the many applications of technology. Colleges and universities hire professional engineers to teach courses aimed at giving students a clearer and better look at the field that they are entering. The pay isn’t that high, but it’s fulfilling to teach young minds.
You can also write about what you know about engineering, construction, and product design. If you don’t think teaching is for you but want to share your knowledge, writing blogs or even magazines and newspapers is a great alternative. Technical writing pays well enough that others do it full-time. But if you still want to practice your profession, you can do this on the side and if your clients allow it, share stories about the projects you are doing.
These are just some of the few business ideas you can dabble into when you’re in the engineering profession. While construction seems to be the obvious route for many engineers, you shouldn’t fall yourself to take that road or any other road you don’t feel passionate about. But if construction is your idea of how to apply your knowledge, then it’s a safe and profitable bet.