When it comes to policy, what’s a small firm to do?
The ins and outs of running a small business are complicated enough; how can principals properly wrap their heads around policy?

By Steve Cimino

At The Atlantic’s Small Business Forum—held in last December and cosponsored by the AIA—Kellee James, the CEO of online agricultural commodities trader Mercaris, remarked during a panel discussion that “entrepreneurs are the worst people to ask about policy.”

With all the demands of owning a small business, from HR and payroll to contracts and beyond, she felt there was just not enough time to stay properly informed about the laws being made. But when it comes to architecture firms, such reasoning won’t get you very far.

“That attitude, which you find a lot, is a cop out,” says Brian Frickie, AIA, principal at Kerns Group Architects and chair of the AIA’s Small Firm Round Table (SFRT). He can’t speak for the work James does, of course, but he knows small firms have no interest in disengaging from the policy conversation.

“Architects are high-level thinkers,” he says, “and often really interested in policy because that’s the planning and concept that gets your design informed, and tells what you the next steps are in the process.”….