When working in a family business, mini lessons often surface over time. Whether it’s around the dinner table, driving to sports practices, or taking a walk, business owners will often teach their kids skills they’ve learned along the way.
This has certainly been the case with our current owners – Barry and Tim – who are the third and fourth generation owners of Spiegelglass Construction Company. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked Tim about the top business lessons he has learned from his dad.
- Business Sense – While Tim took a few business classes in school, he gained most of his business education from his father. “I learned about business little by little along the way,” Tim explained. It was not an overnight process, nor was it a formal one. But Barry took the time to explain the ins and outs of running a business so that over time Tim gained the acumen he would need to carry on the business.
- Relationships Matter – Barry taught Tim early on that it was much more rewarding – both personally and professionally – to treat people the way you would want to be treated. “My dad taught me that it’s so much easier to do business – and a lot more enjoyable – when you treat others with respect,” Tim said. “Your relationships will last longer than any business project, and it’s always more important to treat people fairly.”
- Be Fair – Greed can lead businesses in the wrong direction, and Barry taught Tim to focus on being fair. “He always says to look ahead at the long-term… you want to do business so you’re not losing money on a project, but never be greedy.”
- Be on Time – Making people wait is something Barry never wants to do, personally or professionally. He taught Tim that it’s a show of respect to others to be ready when it’s time.
- Work Ethic – Working hard is part of owning a business – putting in the extra hours to ensure your business is running smoothly and going in the direction you want. While a strong work ethic can mean working smarter and not necessarily harder, dedication to the business is paramount.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – According to Murphy’s Law, if it can go wrong it will. Any business is going to have bumps along the way, and the construction industry has its fair share. Barry coached Tim to keep his eye on the big picture, spending time and energy on what matters instead of sweating the small stuff.
- Fiscal Responsibility – Fiscal responsibility can make or break a business, and everything from investing wisely to cash flow to internal controls matters. Tim learned from Barry that everything counts – you don’t spend more than you can afford and save for rainy days.
- Leave Your Clients Happy – In a business where most of the new work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, leaving your clients so pleased with the experience that they will recommend you to others is crucial. Arguably, this piece of fatherly advice is the reason the company has been in business since 1904.
- Surround Yourself with Great Advisors – No one can succeed in business alone, and that holds especially true in the construction industry. Building is a team sport and Tim learned from his father early on that if you surround yourself with people who are fair, reliable, skilled at their jobs and nice to work with, it makes everything a whole lot easier.
- Leave Your Emotions at the Door – Making sound business decisions, according to Barry, requires introspection and even empathy, but not emotion. Tim is known for taking time to make big decisions and thinking through various options before coming up with a way forward. Knowing when to kick emotion to the curb was a crucial lesson to learn early on.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father figures out there!