Bristol-based Timothy James Consulting was established in 2003. It now has a staff of nearly 60 and has grown to become one of the UK’s leading independent senior appointments recruitment consultancies. Here, co-founder and joint managing director, Peter Bennett explains how they’ve managed to keep growing during the recession.
Timothy James Consulting is being profiled as part of this campaign after filling in our growth questionnaire – if you’re a growing business why not get involved?
What drives you to keep growing your business?
It is still day one for Timothy James Consulting. We will always strive to grow and lead. The drive to keep growing any business comes from the potential it has. By defining where you want your business to be, you can write a growth strategy that will enable it. This growth strategy will channel your drive; giving it structure and clear deliverables, all of which will result in a fast growing business.
The biggest threat to our growth strategy is not being able to recruit the right quality and quantity of consultants. Our success is down to the people who work for us and by growing the business further, we can satisfy their ambition and drive.
How fast has your business grown?
The business started in 2003, as two people with a growth strategy. Now, despite the economic downturn, Timothy James Consulting has been twice ranked in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track Top 100 Growing Companies in the UK, and employs over 50 people.
May 2010 saw us open our first regional office in London, demonstrating a regionalised and segmented approach to our clients’ recruitment challenges.
How have you continued to thrive despite the downturn?
Timothy James Consulting operates in the change and transformation space, which is prevalent throughout any economic condition. By maintaining a sense of quality in our offering, we are able to clearly demonstrate the value our service can add, therefore always growing our market share.
We purposefully maintain a diverse range of clients across business, including SMEs, FTSE 100 companies and the public sector, meaning that if at any one time a sector is underperforming, it does not affect the whole business. This coupled with hands on management, means we are able to adapt to market conditions rapidly.
What were the biggest obstacles to your success?
The obstacles faced by any business owner are different as the company grows. When we first set up Timothy James Consulting, our main issue was how to quickly establish credibility to our potential customers and potential staff.
We have strong experience and reputations in the recruitment industry and so were able to network and ask for recommendations from customers who had worked with us in the past, giving us credibility when approaching new customers.
Recruiting the right caliber of employee is always the main obstacle to growth but no time was more critical than when we started the business. In order to grow we had to attract high calibre experienced recruiters who were monetarily being well looked after by our competitors. By creating a strong commission structure, an effective and personalised training and development programme, as well as giving employees the opportunity to become more involved in creating and developing client relationships, we were able to add fantastic experience to the ranks – therefore gaining even more credibility as a consultancy and winning more clients.
How did you fund your growth?
Our growth was privately funded. To start the business we raised the funds ourselves and have never sought any external funds.
What advice would you give someone looking to grow a business?
If you are looking to grow a business assertively, then you must be able to focus on business development and networking. The only way you will be able to do this is by hiring a good accountant. The ideal accountant will be someone who has experience in start-ups in the same sector as you and who you find it easy to speak to and seek guidance from. This will give you the room to focus on growing your business.
How do you build staff loyalty and trust?
One of the most rewarding aspects of running your own company is the relationship you can build with employees. However, building that relationship takes time and effort. Building staff loyalty and trust will only come from consistently doing what you say you are going to, leading by example and then celebrating your employees’ achievements with open praise. Inclusivity and transparency are important: by involving staff in day-to-day decisions that affect the business, they will be more engaged.
When you give responsibility to staff, make sure you give them the authority to deliver against it. Mentor them and impart your experience without being patronising – they need to find you approachable and want to ask for your guidance.
Fundamentally, if you trust your staff, then they will trust you.
What makes a great entrepreneur?
What makes a great entrepreneur is resilience and belief. Not everything will go to plan so you must be ready to try again. Be innovative and open to new ideas, and believe in your experience, ability and product.