Inspiration Behind the Leader – Dan Parker, Aspect Facades

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Inspiration Behind the Leader – Dan Parker, Aspect Facades

Ian Kinnery | North East Business Coach | Man with photos

Behind every great leader is a story of inspiration; I’ve written about mine here.

I regularly speak to my clients about their inspiration – recently, Dan Parker, of Aspect Facades, told me about how his daughters inspire him every step of the way.

Everyone says that becoming a parent will change your life, but, until I had children, I didn’t really realise how much my life needed to change.

The idea of running my own business always appealed to me. Since starting my working life, I’d spent enough time being an employee to get an idea of how things shouldn’t be done, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I felt the time was right to set up on my own.

Aspect Facades was technically launched in January of that year, but it wasn’t until June that we started trading – and from that point on, my life changed forever.

When I created the company, my goal was, first and foremost, to create an environment for people to enjoy working in, and then take over the roofing and cladding sector in the North East.

However, success came really quickly, and, to be honest, I was surprised by the speed of it, and ultimately it forced us down the growth route sooner than we originally expected.

The snowball effect made things a bit overwhelming, and I very quickly had to consider the kind of things you don’t necessarily plan for when you launch from your dream business. It soon became apparent it was all about working harder and harder and harder and working more and more and more hours.

Essentially, it took over my life.

And while I knew it wasn’t sustainable in the long term, it was when my partner, Amy, and I decided to start a family that I realised something had to change.

I began working with Ian Kinnery when he ran the Scale-Up Leadership Academy course through the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, and he provided the tools for me to make that change. Since then, he’s helped me manage the stress of running a growing business.

And as the pressure eased at work, it also eased at home…

Hallie, my eldest, was born in 2019, followed by her little sister, Sophie, in 2021, and every day since then, they’ve been my inspiration.

Becoming a father at the age of 31 meant I had to change how and where I spent my time; instead of putting myself first with decisions, I had to now consider the family.

Ultimately, it made me look at the amount of time I was spending working and made me change the way I did things, becoming more efficient, delegating more and giving other people more responsibilities.

Obviously, working through a pandemic has also had an impact; a lot of Hallie’s early life was spent in lockdown, so working from home I got to see all of her ‘firsts’ – first steps, first words. I’ve managed to spend a lot of time with them both at home, as a result of both lockdown and my changed mindset, which I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

My daughters inspire me every day. It’s no longer about what I can achieve for me and the business, it’s also about securing their futures too.

However, they’ve also changed the way I look at my future. If I’d not had them, I think I’d have carried on in a very linear way, planning everything in front of me in a straight line.

Now, because their futures need to come into the equation, means I have to make different decisions, taking the bigger picture into account.

Being a business owner and a father, I want to provide my daughters with a real-life example of how you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and you’re willing to work hard. While they’re my inspiration to do my best, my main goal is for them both to see that they can achieve anything they want as they get older.

People often ask if thinking of my children helps me through difficult times, but I like to flip this the other way round and say that thinking of them makes things seem less challenging. Amy and I had to overcome a few hurdles to have our children and, now that they are here, everything else to do with work and careers seems a lot less of a challenge.

Working hard in my 20s and building my own business has given me a sense of security for me and my girls. When they get older and become adults, I hope they leave school in a position where they can choose whatever career path they want to go down, secure in the knowledge that even if they take the wrong path it’s easy to swap at any time if they are willing to put the work in.

It gives me a real sense of achievement to be able to have a successful business on one side and the quality time with my family on the other.

My girls are my inspiration to not only grow the business and secure their futures, but also to distance work life and family life.