It’s been a whirlwind first three months: I’ve hired two fantastic consultants, we had our official launch in May and the team has delivered projects for several major new clients.
The lead up to official launch was awesome, if slightly manic. I’d approached Recruitment Entrepreneur (RE), our investment partner in January and here I was, three months later, launching my own company with their backing. As I’ve had my own business before it was my second time going through this process: the budgeting, hiring strategy, branding, website design, and everything on the operational side, but this time it was smooth and easy. I’m not a micromanager and I know where my skills lie, so delegating to and working closely with the different teams within RE was ideal. The comfort of knowing we’re backed by full finance, operations and marketing functions means we’re set up to grow properly.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the immediate interest from clients (both new and old). Launch day came around quickly, and we had a great response. Our message seems to really engage people, from an accountant in a one-man office, all the way up to the Big 4. I think it’s because we’re so specialised in what we do; we can relate to the entire spectrum of challenges clients face. We understand what they’re looking for and exactly where we can add the most value. In fact, we’re now positioned to be very selective about what we look for and only committing to those projects which we feel will most benefit from our consultative offering.
Managing my time has become a whole new ballgame; I’ve worked hard on ensuring I’m achieving a work/life balance both for myself and my team. In a start-up, you’re never going to leave at the end of the day having achieved everything on your list – if you’re a starter finisher you’ll burn out in no time. I always ensure everyone is happy and performing, as if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from starting a business from scratch, it’s that sustained and successful business growth is a marathon, not a sprint. It's important we’re looking after ourselves and have fun on the way!
We’ve had some great wins so far; generating revenue every month and working on interesting projects including top 10 accountancy practices and some amazing, fast growth smaller clients. People think accountancy is still a very conservative profession which has been slow to recognise and embrace the need to modernise, however that's all changed in the past three years. There’s a huge amount going on in the sector and this is where we make a tangible impact: consulting with clients on embracing new technology and different talent attraction strategies. It’s an exciting time to be recruiting in this space.
Attracting someone of Dominique Needles’ experience within two months was also a fantastic win. I think Dominque was attracted by the opportunity to build out her own team and to have more flexibility in her role. That’s something I was keen to instil here; we encourage our clients to be as forward-thinking as possible and that innovation is reflected in the way I run my own business. I’m always open to looking at ways people can work differently or smarter.
It’s great being back in Birmingham – I went to law school here and the place has changed so much. We’re based in Brindley Place just by the canal, which is ideal for more laid-back meetings, especially in the summer. As a team we’re working our way around the city, finding the best spots – Tattu and Fumo have become firm favourites.
A lot of innovation is happening within the accountancy sector here, as some of the UK’s biggest companies are moving into Birmingham and across the West Midlands. With increased investment and high-performing universities like Warwick and Birmingham in the region, the city is attracting new businesses and workers, most noticeably within professional and financial services. Having seen a 47% growth it’s the fastest-growing sector in the region and with industry giants such as HSBC, Lloyds and KPMG boosting their presence, that number will only continue to grow.
Partnering with RE, who are based in London, affords us the ability to also make use of their Kensington hub.
In June I was down in London for my first CEO forum, alongside directors from across the 17 other businesses who make up the Recruitment Entrepreneur group. It was great to see the collective ambition and success from those on a similar growth journey; we’re all experiencing the same highs and lows that come with founding a business, so addressing any challenges as a group is critical.
Hearing from some of the older, more established businesses like Meraki Talent and Hanami International, on best-practice growth strategies was invaluable. Always nice to continue those chats over a beer or two at the end of the day as well.
My focus for the rest of 2019 is to build our presence across the Midlands, continuing to deliver great new talent for our clients and candidates. I’m also keen to stay at the forefront of the industry's challenges; in May I went to Accountex in London, which was a great insight into the latest tech and innovation within accountancy. Bringing these changes to market through our consulting work is what I’m most passionate about and what makes us stand out, so attending more events and building our expertise will continue to be key as the business grows.
I’m also committed to building an exceptional internal team. Our ethos centres around developing the right environment for talented individuals to perform to their highest capability; this is also reflected in my vision for Williams Munroe. I want each consultant within our team to run their own desk and to play a role in shaping our growth. We all have different styles of working and that translates to our approaches to both the clients and candidates we consult. If a strategy is working, then we stick with it; if there’s a challenge we’ll work together to overcome it. What we’ve achieved so far, I’d describe as the ideal balance between autonomy and collaboration.
I see our next two hires as being our future top billers – everything is geared up and ready to go. We want highly ambitious individuals to come in, with great market knowledge, raring to go ahead and take over some of our largest accounts. Coming from a professional sports background before moving into performance management, that competitive nature and drive to succeed is well-entrenched within Williams Munroe. Celebrating the wins is definitely a huge part of that; in June we went to Ascot and next month we’ve got a corporate box at the Ashes.
It’s an exciting time for Williams Munroe and I’m grateful to everyone who’s made our first 100 days in business such a success. I’m really looking forward to what the next 100 days of growth bring!