#18: Marrying purpose and profit with Paul Bulkeley
Meet Paul Bulkeley the founding director of Snug Architects and catalyst behind the award-winning design studio. In 2017 the practice was either winner or shortlisted for no less than 11 awards and in 2018 won a coveted Civic Trust Award for the highly innovative Milford-on-Sea Beach Huts.
The practice was also selected as one of only nine Role Model Practices by the Royal Institute of British Architects, a significant recognition of the professional culture Paul has helped to cultivate. In 2019 Paul and his team won the RIBA international design competition for The Wall of Answered Prayer, a national landmark of hope to be built at the heart of the UK.
3 nuggets of wisdom
Legacy is the ultimate proof of whether we’ve been fruitful, what we leave behind is more important than what we achieve in the moment
If you operate with the right principles and you have integrity in the way you operate, these things will take you to somewhere good
So many people fall fowl in business because they try to start too big too soon
Paul grew up in the middle of the rainforest on the banks of the Congo and feels as comfortable in a village in Africa as he does in the UK
Pauls journey in business started in 2002 with a desire to build his own house
Snug started as a property development business as well as an architecture firm which gave him empathy for his clients as he’d been through the process of developing property himself
Paul didn’t spend a lot of time working for other people so he didn’t have any preconceptions about building a business, so everything he built was based on first principles and after about 5 years the business began to hold it’s own and attract clients without much effort
Paul is principle led as opposed to planning led
Paul doesn’t worry about the business and the future as long as his practice is moving forward and he is proud of what they are achieving
Paul marries purpose and profit perfectly, he has managed to strike a balance that many struggle to achieve. Yet he has sustained this balance in his business for 17 years.
It’s so important to start as you mean to go on, it’s not going to get easier later to do the right thing, to stick to your values or tow the line with regard to what you’re worth
If you haven’t tested that it works at the small scale, how do you know that it’s going to work at the big scale? Be faithful in the small things
Anyone who thinks they can build a multinational business in 3 years is probably kidding themselves
If you’re not passionate about your business itself and the role you’re playing in society then you’re probably going to find yourself wealthy and unsatisfied
Paul has taken a very slow and steady approach to growing the business, hiring no more than 1-2 people a year, turnover has always risen, profitability has risen every year – consistent growth year on year and no major backward steps even during recessions
The legacy begins the minute you start employing people because that’s when you have to start imparting your business values into others