Very recently, someone asked me to speak at an event about being an entrepreneur. I appreciate that Richard Branson and James Dyson have busy diaries but seriously?
My business partner Liz Jones and I are constantly reminded by ‘kind-hearted people’ that over 50% of new businesses fail in their first five years and here we are with a whole nine months under our belts. So what on earth makes us entrepreneurs? We don’t even work in Shoreditch.
I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to work closely with, or near, founders from the likes of Dell, Dyson and Purple Bricks. I can also count a good handful of former colleagues and friends as real entrepreneurs – PHD, Goodstuff, Naked, Gravity Road, Decoded, even ASOS. All of them spotted a gap, whether a brand-new opportunity or the potential to reimagine something. But the thing that unites all of them is that every founder has a burning conviction to create, or do things differently.
So, what’s the gap for a leadership talent business? On the eve of unprecedented economic and political change, and a time when the marketing landscape has never felt more destabilised, it could be argued this isn’t a great backdrop for another search company! We believe there’s actually never been a more critical time to help businesses face into these exact challenges and succeed by exploring diverse talent solutions. Diverse in background, in experience and in life. Because no business can solve tomorrow’s challenges with yesterday’s approach.
But it’s clear that new businesses can’t just be successful by having conviction in WHAT they do. They also need conviction in WHY and HOW they do it. And that’s the key for Conker. We are a search and talent business that is high on values and on ethics. Not unsettling people perfectly happy in their current role. Promoting the idea of exhausting internal options. Working in unison with in-house recruitment specialists. Staying with a successful candidate throughout their tenure. These are all behaviours that are frequently claimed but so rarely practiced. And so obviously the foundations for building long-term trust with businesses and candidates.
Having spent 17 unforgettable years at PHD, I honestly didn’t think I could feel more personally invested in a business. There’s no question that the highs are higher, and the lows are lower but creating something from scratch is the most liberating, energising and terrifying thing you can do.
For what they’re worth, here are my top five tips when starting your own venture;
While we have a little way to go before we trouble James Dyson for speaking appointments, we have a strong view of what good looks like. And that is, if you have sound principles and hold enough conviction, any half-decent business can thrive and indeed Conker.