President and Co-owner, Rockwood Custom Homes
TEC Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, EAST
Rockwood Custom Homes is an award-winning boutique custom home construction and renovation company offering a full suite of construction, architectural and interior design services in Calgary and beyond. More than just custom homes, however, Rockwood is creating beautiful, functional communities in the city of Calgary. Allison Grafton, a former investment banker, is the president and co-owner of Rockwood Custom Homes, after having turned a passion into a business, having previously renovated more than 15 homes in her “spare” time.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I have three key lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Follow your instinct. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always trusted my gut when making important decisions. It’s the times I haven’t that I erred.
- Expect to work tirelessly. It is the reality of entrepreneurship. For the first few years, you will be working around the clock to make your business succeed. Love it. Embrace it. Know that you are doing this to ensure your future success.
- Maintain integrity always, in all of your dealings. Ensure your entire company is set up with this firmly grounded in its processes and operations. You must look after all aspects of the business, not just what you love.
What makes an effective leader?
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Many have something unique and compelling that makes them special and the right fit for their organization. I can speak to my own skills as an entrepreneurial leader, which can be quite different than someone who leads a not-for-profit or a publicly listed enterprise. As an entrepreneurial leader, you have to be committed to customer service and quality. Those two things ensure a good product and happy customers. Part of that equation is problem solving or troubleshooting; never giving up and knowing that there’s always a good solution is a hallmark of a good entrepreneur.