Dan Parker of Aspect Facades dreamed of owning his own business from the days when he was an employee. He had a vision of how companies could be run better, both for the business and for their staff.
“In construction as a whole, there hadn’t been too much innovation about how businesses were run. They were set up in the Sixties and were still run in such a way. The old fashioned, inflexible office environments were causing a lack of innovation and creativity in people.
“My dream was to build an environment where everyone felt a sense of ownership to grow themselves as well as the business and create a flexible working environment so they could plan their work around their lives as well as lives around their work.”
After watching and waiting, and discussing his ideas with friends, family and colleagues, Dan and his business partner, Andrew set up Aspect Facades in 2017 – it was time to make his dream become reality.
“In my last role, every day I was comparing my thoughts and ideas to the reality of where I was working, and I started to feel that everything I was planning would work – that’s when I knew time was right to make the jump.
“There was always a sense of excitement in setting up a business, nerves never really played a part.”
Dan succeeded in his aim, and Aspect became a place where employees thrived and enjoyed being. However, alongside that, the business grew faster and bigger than Dan could ever have expected – something he and his business partner admit they were not quite ready for.
“Our immediate success forced us down the growth route sooner than expected and then the snowball effect made things a bit overwhelming.
“It became apparent that the only way to manage was to work harder and harder and harder and more and more and more hours. We were all working 12, 14, 16 hours a day, then weekends as well.
“Our working hours determined what we could do outside of work, which is the wrong way round, and the opposite of what I had envisaged. We were trying to chase our tails all the time, sacrificing things like holidays and time off – even in my spare time, I was still checking emails.
“I was really starting to feel the pressure – my dream had become just a job.”
The turning point came when Dan and his partner decided to start a family, and he realised that the dream of starting and expanding a business didn’t marry up with his dream of starting a family. It also made him realise that to get the most out of the firm he and Andrew had grown, he himself had to grow – as a leader.
“I took part in the Scale-up Leader’s Academy, which was run through the Entrepreneurs’ Forum by Ian Kinnery, and soon realised how much influence a business coach could have.
“Working with Ian rekindled the excitement I had, because it felt that he was an outlet, a release from the pressure, as well as the help that I needed to organise things a bit more and plan for growth in a way that was less stressful.
“After the first few sessions, I realised how much of an influence he was going to have on me personally, not just on the business.
“Ian can see the bigger picture and it doesn’t take long to develop that personal relationship with him too.”
As Dan grew as a leader, Aspect did too; turnover trebled in the space of a year. Hs family, too, grew, and he is now the proud father of two young daughters.
“Working with Ian has grown me as a person to have a different outlook on what work life should be like, as well as taking the pressure off at home.
“My girls have become my inspiration to grow the business and secure their futures, but also to be able to distance work life and family life.
“I have a real sense of achievement to have a successful business on one side and the quality time with my family on the other. I feel I’ve finally achieved equilibrium between the two thanks to Ian.”