Starting and Running a Planning Firm

Monday, May 8, 2017 | 9 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

“Entrepreneurs,” “startups,” “independents”—they're all the buzz. But what about for the planning profession? How do we unleash the creative entrepreneurial spirit of the planning professional? Now, more than ever, there is a need to provide planners with the tools, insight, and support for starting and successfully operating their own planning consultant firms. In recent years, both private sector and public sector planners have seen the professional landscape shift.  In this changing economy, a viable option for many is to start their own firm or become an independent contractor.  This is not easy and many planners lack the experience and resources necessary to give it a shot and succeed, giving rise to questions like: "How do I get started? Who is my target customer?  How do I stand out in a crowded and competitive field? Is this a good idea given the economy?" Over the past decade, Houseal Lavigne Associates has grown from two people working out of a small room to a national practice with a studio office in downtown Chicago and a portfolio of more than 250 municipal clients in 20 states. We will show what worked and what didn’t, and the strategies and techniques utilized to grow during one of the nation’s worst economic climates. This fun and engaging session will answer the questions on everybody’s minds and ignite the passions of the entrepreneur in all of us.


Devin Lavigne , AICP , Houseal Lavigne Associates , Chicago , IL (see bio)
John Houseal , AICP , Houseal Lavigne Associates , Chicago , IL