Small Firm Exchange (SFx)

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Who We Are

The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

1. Advocate the value of small firms, the national SFx, and local SFx groups, both within the AIA and to the public.

2. Curate and disseminate the most pertinent resources and information, from the AIA & elsewhere, that benefit small firms.

3. Inform the AIA of current issues facing small firms and areas in which current resources/information are lacking.

Approximately 75% of all firms within the AIA are small firms (less than 10 employees), which equates to 14,459 small firms within the organization.

~26.8% = sole practitioners = 5,173

~33.5% = 1-5 employees = 6,459

~14.7% = 5-10 employees = 2,827

We need to find ways to leverage that size for collaboration and influence, just like the individual large firms do.



My Startup Firm Story: The Outpost Studio

By Dana L. Ellis AIA posted 03-18-2022 11:24 AM


It was Spring Break 2021 and I had a pile of printed material that I had found and downloaded from the AIA Trust’s website. These included “Creating and Maintaining a Professional Practice”, “Making the Transition to Running Your Own Firm”, and “How to Start and Run Your Own Firm”. 

I had recently decided to start an Architecture practice with my husband after 12 years with the same firm. I started my professional career with this firm following graduate school. My primary mentors were the two founding principals and I didn’t feel comfortable given the circumstances, to ask them for advice. Instead, I turned to Google and the AIA. 

The resources I found under Start a Firm still live in a binder, along with the other start-up necessities: computer lease agreements, EIN documentation, numerous articles on small business management and even a gratitude list I created about the job I was leaving. 

When I look through this binder a year later, many of the notes I wrote in the margins are still our guiding principles.  Just recently, my husband/business partner said, “We built a business.” We did. We felt secure to do so with the AIA Trust’s support.