It feels a bit surreal to be writing a blog reflecting on 5 years in business…
5 years ago, if you had told me I would be running a business that employed 8 people and working with some huge clients, I honestly don’t know if I would have believed you.
You see, when I first started the business, it was for the purpose of doing some interim contractor style work, something that paid well and gave me freedom. I don’t think at that point I anticipated where things would go at all.
But in 5 years I have made some mistakes, but I have also made some great decisions. Ultimately, we are here, and we are growing, so it seems a good opportunity to share some of what I have learned in the hope it may help someone else who is beginning their journey. So here are my 5 key takeaways after 5 years in business…
No one else is going to, you have to believe in yourself first and foremost.
That doesn’t mean I think you should sit and ask the universe for things and chant about it until you get it – I am not sure I believe in that stuff.
I just mean that I think you have to believe in your ability and be resilient enough to be able to give things a go, fail, and then get straight back up again.
People often say to me that they think I am ambitious, I don’t know if that’s true. I just know that I really don’t ever want to work for anyone else again! I LOVE having a team and seeing them grow. I love to be able to choose who we work with and what we work on. And beyond anything else, I know I am resilient enough to face challenges which allow me to carry on doing that for as long as I possibly can.
Cashflow is king
I attended a webinar with Portt and Co. that really brought this home for me and it changed our business model entirely.
We would often be in a feast or famine cycle. We would win a load of work and then go to ground whilst we delivered on it. When we lifted our heads again, we had to go back to hunting down work.
As a business owner it’s stressful, especially if you have other people on the payroll who you are responsible for.
For us it wasn’t sustainable and so we made a move onto our Subscription packages – which has been a game changer. It gives us a longer view of our cashflow and that means we can plan better.
It also means we can give a better service to our clients.
This also means confidently backing your own business invoice payment terms. There can be times where you feel pressured to continuously flex for clients on things like this, but you need to know what works for you and be able to stand by this when you go into negotiations.
Don’t be afraid to say no
This has been a huge lesson for me personally.
I often didn’t want to turn down work, but there have times where we took on work and the client just wasn’t a fit for us.
The annoying thing for me was I probably knew it in my gut, but I wanted to build the business and our reputation and I made decisions that put us outside of our values or our agreed ways of working.
In the long run, it costs you more than just saying “No thanks, it’s not for us”.
Authenticity is key
I often used to worry when I was writing blogs that my tone of voice, or use of words, may not appeal to everyone. Perhaps I would seem unprofessional or too direct for other people’s taste.
Now I don’t worry about it at all.
I would rather someone read my blog and say, ‘I like her, I could work with her’, or actually, ‘she’s not for me’!
It’ll save some awkwardness down the line when we start a discussion and they realise I do say it exactly as I see it.
We have found our tribe of supporters by just being us – I wouldn’t change that for the world.
I would rather be one or two people’s glass of champagne, than everybody’s cup of tea.
Social media is a great place to be authentically you.
At times I felt we were putting things out on social media and shouting into a dark abys – was anyone actually reading it and forming an opinion?
But we kept on building our platforms, and now we get lots of feedback from people who feel they really know us and our brand based on what they see on our socials alone.
I think business owners can feel like it’s hard to see the return on actively posting on the socials, but brand awareness can’t always be measured with numbers.
You are only as good as your people
Building a team of great people has been the most important thing for us as a business.
We have a strong sense of being and a great culture. That can ONLY exist by making good hiring decisions.
We are united in a common purpose, and we have a safe environment to learn and grow.
We would have achieved nothing without the whole team at The Outsourced Recruitment Company and rewarding them for their hard work has been a hugely important part of our growth journey. We do this through giving bonuses, providing progression and promotion opportunities and ensuring we paid a cost of living pay rise.
As I look forward to the next five years, I can’t wait to see what else I will learn along the way. I know it will come with difficulties and mistakes, but ultimately, I am driven by the fantastic team around me and the brilliant clients and candidates that we get to work with every day.