How To Build Your Brand Brick By Brick
I’d never really thought about my Dad being a businessman until I started Clear Ideas and began writing about my work philosophy. My old man was a successful builder. It’s only now I can see how much his commitment to his career shaped my work-life perspective.
Having left school at 13, Dad was put on the hod by his Uncle Colin and mercilessly berated till he’d earned his stripes as a qualified bricklayer. The man could lay bricks non-stop at speed and with 100 percent accuracy.
Even as Dad’s reputation as a builder grew, he never overstretched himself or his time – so the quality of his output never dropped. Money was never a priority.
Dad was up at dawn and as head of the company, he’d arrive home in the dark. He put in extra hours on weekends or late at night. We didn’t feel neglected, though: he dedicated his life to his career and his family. It’s an art.
4. Lack of Greed
Dad was passionate about doing a good job rather than about wealth. He could have asked for more, financially, but he kept his prices sensible.
My old man looked for workers who were technically skilled but could make the day go faster with good chat and laughter. He appreciated levity alongside skill. Wit makes the world turn cheerfully, especially when it’s belting down!
My mum ran around the rest of the business, making sure subbies were paid on time and trading accounts cleared early. She was a powerhouse. Never undervalue the support you rely on.
Dad got in with the local council early on and established himself as a credible company with a strong network. He wanted recognition and wasn’t afraid to take risks to get it.
Dad had a vast book of contractors, clients, contacts of all kinds that he’d gathered over the years. No-one was too small or too random to be left out. He knew everyone has value and can contribute.
Dad never let his success go to his head. He told me once: “All we’re doing is digging holes and filling them! It’s what goes on around it that’s important.”
Clients and contractors alike loved working with Dad. He knew how to get the best out of people and was always cracking jokes (while still taking the work seriously). It was a good balance.
Mum and Dad loved to throw big ol’ parties; usually with a band and a lot of wildness thrown in. You could guarantee many of Dad’s past and present customers would be there.
Dad was nothing if not consistent. Whether he was doing up a bathroom for a neighbour or creating a long-term, high-end job for titled gentry, a famous TV show or a rock star – I’m looking at you, Jimmy Page – he offered everyone the same A-plus standard of work.
Dad would be there when he said, doing what he said. He’d keep going until the job was done. Keeping work levels manageable allowed him to commit to jobs until they were completed on time.
Invites were often given for pub lunches and dinners, usually including Mum and sometimes us kids. Dad understood that ‘business is people’ and that the best working relationships are forged over a good meal.
My Dad’s sites were made meticulously orderly at the end of each and every day and he kept his office site spick and span, no matter how busy. He was famous for it. ‘Keep it tidy’ was his motto.
Dad always dressed smart when he met clients, both before and during the job, when he went to discuss progress and priorities. He was dapper and people took him seriously for it.
17. Family values
Mum was a huge support from the outset: together they made a winning team. My brother and I were also roped in to contribute from a young age. We were a strong family unit and those values paid back into the business more than I could ever appreciate at the time.
It’s useful to have a hero figure in mind when you start, to uphold as a ‘gold standard’. Who’s yours?