Starting Early, Plowing Ahead | Episode 6 | Tom Bedford – Agenda Partnership


Nishi: Hi, I’m award-winning accountant and business advisor, NII Patel, and you are listening to the Unrelenting Drive podcast. This is essential listening. If you’re running a small business and need the motivation to scale it, I’ll be talking to successful business owners to understand how they built their dream, the adversity they had to overcome along the way.

And the advice I would give to someone starting up today, I’m really excited to be joined by Tom Bedford from the Gender Partnership. Hi Tom, thanks for joining us. Thank you. Thank you for having me. And it j just to start with, if you could let people know what you do.

Tom: Of course. So, agenda Partnership are a, uh, recruitment and training company, so two separate businesses.

Uh, recruitment being our sort of core business. Um, the business that we started with, um, back in 2012, um, which came from my background and my business partner’s background was, was in recruitments, naturally came together and, um, When, when a run with, with agenda publisher, which, um, we’re now in our 11th year of trade-in, so everyone Nice.

Um, and then on the separate side of the organization, we have training. So we, uh, run professional training courses on leadership development and personal development, uh, also in sales and it as well. But, um, we, we run multiple sort of leadership development programs for small to medium sized businesses, small businesses, uh, all the way through to large, uh, PLCs as well.

Nishi: Amazing. So, and, uh, I think, uh, your rich, uh, sorry, your business partner’s called Richard, isn’t he? Yes. Okay. And what were you doing before you started the agenda Partnership?

Tom: So, I’ll take you back to when I left school. Um, I didn’t love education. I hated education. Um, and what I did do was ended up at sixth form for about 15 minutes.

Quite literally, um, decided that it wasn’t for me. Um, and before I got home, my parents already knew that I’d left. Um, so at that point they were saying, what, what you gonna do? I said, I’m gonna go college. Um, a bit different. Um, so I chose to do public services. Uh, I had the vision of becoming a police officer.

Um, and I really enjoyed the, the year that I was doing in, in college. And I was going go to go on and do the second, uh, second part of the, the diploma. Um, but then I realized the effort that I needed to fill in a police application form.

So I started in a contact center, uh, telemarketing. So, uh, quite literally making 60, $70 an hour. Um, you know, at the point it was. Giving away free magazines, so subscriptions, uh, for people that had magazines. Uh, and I, I took to it really, really well. Um, and after my first year of college, I decided I’m not gonna go on and do my second year or my third year.

I’m gonna go into full-time employment. Um, and that’s what I decided to do. So basically born and raised in the contact center, um, in Wallburg, where I was, where I was born. Um, moved to another organization in Ver, um, which was a contact center as well. Um, but they also had a recruitment part of their business, and it, it really intrigued me.

I wanted to do something else. I wanted to go into industrial recruitment, um, for my sins.

I did for about four months because I, I just wish I didn’t, never left my, my last job. Um, and I met Richard at my first job in recruitment. Um, so he was my manager. Um, And then he moved on and went to a business and, and sort of said, come with me. So I went with him. Uh, at the time I pretty much doubled my salary, um, and everything.

Life was good, right? I was 20, nearly 21. Um, I didn’t have any dependents. I didn’t have a mortgage. Uh, my, my salary had just been doubled. I was like, this is, this is it.

Nishi: So you mentioned like, um, you had this a preset mind mindset about recruitment. You thought it would be a certain way. What was the reality of, of what you saw when you actually went into it?

What was the, the biggest surprise to you? Or the biggest difference to, to your own expectations?

Tom: So, so as a junior recruiter, as someone learning how to, uh, sell because there’s, there’s, get it, right? Recruiters are glorified telling salespeople in a, in a, in a way. You know, because there’s the graft of developing relationships, building a network.

Um, that’s hard work. That’s, that’s real hard braf and that’s what a lot of recruiters tend to, to not want to do anymore. That’s why people tend to come out for improvement. Um, because it becomes, it is, it is a real challenge. Um, so as a junior recruiter, didn’t, didn’t think anything off that I didn’t think I was gonna be part of my job role.

I thought recruitment was interviewing people. And that was it. You know, and I’m really good at speaking to people. I didn’t realize that there was a bit before that. It’s almost like building a house. You don’t just lay bricks on the floor. Right. You, you have to build the foundations.

Nishi: Well, actually, the, the way I was thinking of it, it’s probably like being in a stage and you have to sell your services and then sell the house. Right. It’s like, Maybe similar to in


Tom: someone going into a state agency that was naive, like I was, we probably just think they’re just gonna sell houses from day one.

But where did houses come from and how, and who am I selling for? who am I gonna be recruiting for? What am I gonna be recruiting for? How am I gonna find the people? Never really crossed my mind. Um, it was more about, I probably had a point in my life when I was 20, 21, but I was lazy and I thought this would be an easy move for me.

When I went into recruitment because. I, I, I was done with making the 60, 70 calls an hour cold calling telesales roles, which I was, you know, thankful for, because that’s where I’ve got all of my, I suppose, awareness, my ability, my, uh, strengths from, because if I hadn’t have done that, I wouldn’t be successful in recruitment.

Um, because I wouldn’t have done the, the, the hard bit, which is the, the, the selling and, and building a brand. Um, and then obviously TW 21, um, me and Richard both worked for a company together in industrial recruitment, uh, in Northampton, which I just didn’t like. Um, I weren’t a fan of being. In, in sort of warehouses and factories at 4:00 AM in the morning and

Phone ringing whenever I, you know, whenever you pleased. Um, I, I weren’t have fan of that and that again,

Nishi: is that

an industry thing, like people just don’t have boundaries in, in industrial is

Tom: if you are into industrial recruitment, you’ve, you have to be aware that your phone is going to, to call and you will be on call.

You will have hiring managers at organizations at two o’clock in the morning tell you someone has not turned up and you need to backfill that spot.

Nishi: Is, is the money good in, in the industry? Okay. All right. So work horrible hours for less money, to be fair.

Tom:  Yes. It probably would’ve been good at my age. Like in terms of like a state agency, very similar. So state agents tend to go into recruitment, recruiters tend to go into a state agency. Um, you know, the service offering is, is. Pretty identical. And, um, so it is very, very driven in, in terms of, uh, what it was bonus. So I was on a very, very low basic, My first recruitment job, I was on 13, 13 and a half thousand pound a year. What, how long ago was that? Uh, 13 years ago.

Nishi: Okay. So it’s probably like 20 K in today’s terms really, isn’t it?

Tom: 20,000 would be a junior recruiter now, maybe 2020 to two 20 to 22, um, with a bonus if you’re doing really well. Um, probably, um, 30 grand a year maybe as, as a good recruiter in an industrial firm, um, which if you are, what I at the time was 20 was earning. that’s great. I was, I was living a lovely life.

And agenda partnership came up because I just didn’t wanna do industrial recruitment anymore. I was very good at, uh, permanent recruitment and I had a very. Large database of people that just used me because they knew who I was. I, I, I’d done all of the, the hundred calls a day, building those relationships.

if you were to use me for your recruitment, I could work for myself and work for somebody else, you’d probably come to Tom It’s a relationship, isn’t it? And that’s what happens.

Nishi: All I was gonna say is, say when you started the gender partnership, did one of you start it first and then the other one joined, or you just said, let’s do it together?

Tom: No, um, we, we both decided to move on from the organization we were at. And bear in mind, Richard, uh, Richard was what was my regional branch manager.

in recruitment terms, that from where I was, was probably three levels above me. and his earning potential, his earning expectation was so much more than mine. So he was used to earning, you know, huge amounts of numbers when I weren’t, I was 2010 and 21. Um, but we both said I, me and Richard go together really, really well.

So as a service person, Richard’s like top tier as a salesperson. I was and probably still am really good at, so, but I was the grafter of the sales side and Richard was the, uh, business manager managed large organizations, recruitment businesses At MD level. So he had all of that awareness, whereas I was just this, if it works, it works.

my risk level was so much lower than what Rich’s risk level was.

Um, you know, he had kids, had mortgage, you know, all has with that now, but has had an everything that I now have. So he, his, I had to quickly get to his level really quickly. Um, and I don’t mean on sort of just learning different bits about the business because again, ying and Yang, we go together really well because he, he does everything that I can’t do and I do a thing that he can’t do.

And we, we’ve got that arrangement where we, we are cool with that, you know, I’m not very good at this and he’s very good at that and vice versa. So why, you know, I’ve never had to challenge myself in a way that I’m uncomfortable with because I’ve been fortunate enough to have Richard there and, and you know, I’ve learned from Richard.

So I, I didn’t have a clue about how to run a business. I didn’t have a clue on how to manage people. I didn’t have a clue on anything. I was just a 21 year old. Boy, probably. Um, that had this opportunity. And if you would’ve asked me when I was 19, do I have ambition to run a business, I probably would’ve said no.

at that time when I was 21, I could have got a job somewhere else, um, or I could have gone off and done it myself. So I had that decision. It was a fit coin moment. Really. Heads are going work with Richard Tails are gonna find another job and be employed tomorrow. Um, London on Heads, I went with Richard, you know, so that was, you know, over multiple pots of tea and at the time, 20 cigarettes, you know, having a conversation about what we gonna do.

Nishi: I, I had a similar, um, decision to make when I, when I first started this business, cause I really wasn’t happy in, in a work, in a, in a job I was doing.

And, but then I realized actually I wasn’t happy. In the one before that, and I wasn’t really happy in the one before that. And I, I came to the conclusion, okay, fine, I could, I could go move company and, but what’s, what’s really gonna change? Like, what is, what is the underlying thing that is making me unhappy, um, at, at these, uh, these businesses?

And ultimately, I, I came to the realization it’s like not, not having the freedom to work in the way I wanted. And, um, I, I, I know what you mean. It’s just psyche. And I think some people have to go through quite a few jobs before they, they realize actually employment’s not right for them.

And I, I feel like back then the level of risk compared to the level risk now when you’ve got two kids and you’ve gotta put food on the table and you, you’ve gotta eat, it’s huge. And I, I do wonder. If I would made that same decision if I had the kids. But the other side of it though is like, you know, this business is nine years old, but, you know, two years ago we start building the Apex program, um, which is where we went from just doing the accounting work to doing like more financial management and more coaching, um, and consulting.

And it was almost like a restart or a startup business all over again. So in some ways I kind of feel I did, I I did restart the business or have a startup business with the kids, but, and I think this time round I probably felt a lot more pressure than I did the first time. But I, I time, you know, raises all, all the stress from back then.

So I think actually May, maybe nine, nine years ago when I started, I, I was under a lot of pressure as well.

Tom: But that’s the

difference. I had none of that. So the decision to start my own company was so easy because I was like, if it didn’t work, I could get another job. I didn’t have the mortgage, the kids, the wife, the, you know, all of this stuff that, for anyone now who’s got that they’re looking.

So mine and Richard’s story would be totally different cause he had, I had it all to lose, whereas he, sorry, I, he had it all to lose, I had

nothing to lose.

Nishi: I, well actually one thing I was gonna say and, um, like on a psychological level, um, because I guess you got your material things to lose or not to lose, but you, there, there’s a psychological bit and um, like you mentioned you came from like a council estate and, um, you, you had quite a, a.

Poor upbringing. My parents were fine. You like, it’s just like, um, you, you didn’t have as much money as other people would’ve. And um, and one thing I’ve noticed talking to quite a lot of business owners is the ones from a poor upbringing, there’s probably a better way to say that, but from a working class or a, um, uh, where, where they had less money growing up, they kind of, they take more risks when they start their business than someone from like a middle class upbringing.

Because like I I, when I grew up, we didn’t have much money at all, but I came from a family where they, uh, you know, people were, were doctors where people were, um, people were, were doing really well in their careers and, um, the dentists. And there was a lot of pressure like on me when I started as business because like ultimately, I had to fit in with the rest of my family and, and, um, you know, make a certain amount of money and, um, and be a certain standard, standard as a professional.

And I, I sometimes feel like talking to people who’ve started the businesses from a working class upbringing, they don’t necessarily have that pressure. And so they can, because not a lot of the time, nothing, no one expected anything from them. So, and then because of that, it means they take more risks when they start the business and often they get further ahead, um, because they don’t have, they don’t have that fear

of failure.

Tom: I grew up on a cancer state. My mum and dad owned the house that we lived in, but he was on a counter estate. My, my dad was a bus driver, um, and my mum was the traditional start at home, mark. So it was, I’ve got two brothers that are both older than me. Um, you know that one of them I had to look out for a lot cause he’s, he’s got autism. Um, and went through a different stage of his life differently. So I kind of, my mentality’s always been, I don’t care what the result might be and, and someone so I, I hear the phrase you Oh, you’re so lucky.

I’m, I’m not lucky. I just, I just live a mentality that says if it will be, it’ll be, if it ain’t, it ain’t. And you know that, that if you sit in, I don’t worry about nothing. And people go, why don’t you worry about it? Because if that doesn’t come off, I’ll do something else Like I will go here or do that.

And I think that’s helped me per my mentality personally. Cause that helps my drive, if I put a, a blocker on something that says, if you don’t get to here, Then you failed, or, um, you need to go find something else to do or whatever it might be. I just don’t have that thought process. So I just, I see the end goal and I just keep moving.

If that end goal keeps getting further and further away, I’m still going in the right direction. That’s, that’s probably the easiest way to describe how I think about my days and how I think about, you know, where am I gonna be in five years. I dunno, I,

Nishi: I wish I could adopt that mentality of it actually, cause I worry about a lot of stuff, like, um, and I, I think there was a time, you know, when I start my business I was worried about what other people would think if I wasn’t successful in it and then, When I was after a point in my business and we, we built it up and I then I a stopped being less worried, I, I stopped being worried about that.

But then I started being worried about, Hey, if this business fails, I might have to get a job. And I was like, I can’t work for someone. I, it was just that, it was something I just could not do as part of my core. Um, and then so I started worrying about that. I was like, okay, this business cannot fail.

And then you, we bring on staff and then, you know, your staff become your family to some extent, and then you’re like, oh, actually, you know, I, I fine. I, I don’t have to ever have to work for anyone again, cause if something went wrong, I could always just be an accountant and do it, do things myself, but what, what about those guys?

And then eventually I, I get to the mindset, well, you know, we, we’ve always focused on developing our people, giving the right skill, set the right soft skills, the right technical skills, like, you know, maybe I shouldn’t worry about them because they, they’ll always be able to go and get a job somewhere if, if they’re needed to.

And gradually I’m, I’m getting to a point and where I, I’m kind of, I’m becoming less worried about stuff. But I think one of the things though is I, like, sometimes I, I envy people who come from a sales background because you, your biggest asset is your ability to just pick up that phone and wherever you are in your life, if you’ve got a phone or if you, if you can just go talk to someone, you can, you can do that.

Whereas for me, like, you know, one of my biggest assets was, uh, being a ma chartered management accountant. But gradually, like, you know, I’ve, I’ve got a place in my career where I feel like, you know, the re I really wouldn’t wanna go back to the ground roots of doing, doing all that accounting stuff. I, I like what I do on the consulting side.

But there’s always some, I think there’s always a lot of mindset stuff when you’re, when you’re scaling a business, it’s, it’s like, you know, in, in fact the in relatively, although the finances are, are, are complex. The, the, the mind and all the limiting beliefs and all, all the things are holding you back. All, all the irrational things are holding back from making the right decision.

They, they really do come into it. And you, and you’re always, you are always trying to deal

with that.

Tom: Even in about personal life, people will say to me, Tom, why don’t you worry about this? Well, Tom, why if I worry, I won’t get there. That, that’s literally how I think. You know, so I obviously, I think about everyone around me.

The, my awareness of people, my emotional intelligence is really high. I’m aware about what my thought process might do to something else or to someone else, or I’m very, I, I don’t really talk about how I handle things mentally because, I just go, I just, I just go and, and again, that’s where me and Rich go really well.

Rich is a really analytical thinker. Whereas I’m a, I’m, I’ve just do it. I’m like, how would I describe it? Like a hit man? Right. If you I’m not gonna plan. If you just tell me where, and I’ll do it. You know, that’s, that’s kind of my mentality. That’s probably the easiest way to describe it. I’m not a hit man, by the way.

No, no. Someone, you, I don’t, I don’t plan anything and it, I just get there and I think maybe I’ll do that. So I’m not, I don’t feel like I haven’t achieved, sorry. Cause I haven’t, I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve just achieved it. Does that make sense? So instead of going, right, I’m going to, I’m gonna build a business that turns over a million pounds, or I’m gonna build a business that turns over 5 million pound.

I’m just gonna do it and then I’m gonna look back at it and go light me off. I’ve got a business that turns over 5 million pounds. So I’m not gonna plan my way there and, but would plan his way there. So actually he pulls me back sometimes cause I’m just kind of a, I’ve still got that bit between my teeth where I don’t mind doing business development.

I, I, I’m never gonna be above doing business development. I’m never gonna be above being the guy that goes to a networking event. I, I always want to do that stuff. I always want to be involved in it. Um, because in recruitment, you, you gain a brand in yourself. if everything went to park with a gender partnership today, I know full well that I could go somewhere else, right?

But that’s because people will come with me. People don’t necessarily know a gender partnership. They know Tom. Know Richard, what I know, Joe.

Nishi: You know, so that, that’s kind of, your relationships

are the biggest asset you’ll ever have actually. And, um, I think a lot of business owners forget that.

like the way you are making a sound. I’d say say if, if you, if it was a war, you’d be the assault force. And then Richard comes along with the supply supplies and, uh,

Tom: which you would look at the, the assault course and work out how he’s gonna get through everything in timings. So he’ll go, right, if, if I’ve got five minutes to do this,

I’ll get over that wall. I’ll take a 32nd rest, I’ll go, where’s, where’s the salt course I’m doing it. If I, if I complete it, great. If I don’t complete it, I haven’t thought about what I could have done today better.

Nishi: a lot of partnerships I’ve, I’ve seen, um, that’s usually how it works. Like one, one person like, just just has the energy and the momentum to go out and grow it. then the other one comes along and dots the I and crossings of Ts and um, and that’s a really important one cause

Tom: I don’t wanna say Richard’s not a a go getter He really is. He, he thinks about it. It’s a very important job, isn’t it? He thinks that, you know, in, um, if we were to define our job roles in an organization, Richard would be the managing director of agenda partnership. You are the sales director or sales

job titles have never, ever, ever, ever phased me. Ever. Um, even in organizations where I might have been the top earner or top villa, but my job title might have been sales assistant. Cool. Like, I didn’t, I didn’t, never can, I never had the ambition to chase. A job title. It was, it was really all about earnings for me

When I was younger. Um, and it’s, you know, my life’s changed obviously because I’m now married, got two kids, got mortgage, you know, business properties and stuff like that. So it, it, I’ve got more to risk now than I’ve ever had. But my mentality has not changed to, oh, what am I gonna do if, or how am I gonna get there?

Or I’m just gonna get there.

People get caught up on the cons. Just think about the pros and the cons. Become a pro.

Nishi: you mentioned you’re already your 11th year with the business, so that puts you in the top 36%, I think. Um, and one thing I, I’ve noticed is the kind of people that have to work out pros and cons before they’re going into the business, they, they’ll never get, get to that 11th year because it’s, I, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a business owner who had to think about it.

It was, it was just something they felt like, you know, and, and before they started their business, something didn’t feel right in their lives. And when they started that business, it did feel right.

Tom: Mine was a flip of a coin. Heads of sales. And it landed off heads, but,

Nishi: but if it landed on tails, you’d probably still start your business just maybe a year later

Tom: I don’t think we would’ve, because, you know, I can’t describe how further forward Richard was in his life to how much I didn’t have because of age, I didn’t have children, all that sort of stuff, which makes a huge lot.

You said earlier about decision making. I never had any of that. So my decision was so easy. Whereas all the risk really sounded Richard, because we are 50 50 partners. If Richard was used to earning X amount a year, a month for what? I had to be dragged into that. So I was, I was all for it cause I’d never earned so much money in my life.

But that never changed my mentality where some people might, you know, if you’ve, if you start earning certain numbers, people will then start resting back on their laurels and going, this is, this is wicked. I don’t have to work as hard anymore. Um, I’d done never had that. I just remember first year of trading was difficult.

It was, you know, we had, I can’t remember what our turnover was. It was something so, so small. I I was shocked at the point. I was like, is this gonna work? Because I had this mentality where this is gonna be easy cause I’ve got all these clients that already know me. I think we were in the town over like 56 grand in our first year.

And I was like, I said to Richard, like, wow, this, this is, this is bad. Like, this is, I’m earning less than what I was earning working for somebody else. And, and then all of a sudden just got this momentum and it was just like, bum boom, boy. It just spiraled on from there.

how we got into training is probably quite a, quite an important topic as well, because again, this is, this is not a deliberate thing that we did, it just happened.

Um, and how that happened was we, we work for large p c And that was initially, uh, recruiting. So we recruited fixed term contractors into their, uh, training teams. And then six months later, they decided that that program was gonna be for free years. And Okay. They had a recruitment freeze, believe it or not, and they couldn’t recruit these people again through even a fixed time contract.

So they had, we, we directly became a contract for recruitment business at that point. And then they said, right, we’ve got these five people, but now we need you to, to give us another 15 more. So all of a sudden we’ve got 20 associate trainers That are working in a large plc. We’re doing a very good day rate on.

Um, huge problems of cash flow. At that point, because we, we always had an unwind. We pay the contractor regardless of we’ve been paid or not. Right. So I remember the biggest pain, the biggest, biggest pain that we had. And it was Christmas Eve. And this year, it was in the year 2017, I think it was.

Um, this, this invoice was a substantial amount, um, that wasn’t paid when it was supposed to be paid. we didn’t have to pay the contractors until the day up, the boxing day or something like that. But we were like, no, we are gonna pay our contractors before Christmas. Um, and I just remember it being a very large sum of money.

And it, it nearly broke us to the point of, you know, if this invoice didn’t land We, we are, we are done. Like we are done. Um, And I think it was like 4 45, you know, freshing on the, uh, the online banking, you know, landed as land landed came in and we were like, never want, never wanna be in that position again.

Never ever do we wanna be in that position again.

Nishi: What have you changed?

Tom: Be own, make sure you love, in that initially negotiated our terms. Okay. Um, we’ve been stricter with our terms of business. I think when we, when we landed that project and that, and we still work with ’em now, you know, we we’re in our nightmare of working with them.

And that contract is substantial for us. You know, it’s a really big contract and it, it generates hundreds of thousands of pounds of year in, in profit. Not even just in revenue. It’s, it’s probably millions in revenue, but profit is obviously, um, taken away from that. But it, we’ve just learned that we needed to be stricter with the client.

We, we weren’t gonna be the for them because we, we sat there for why are these guys working with us? How have we done this? Um, And, and so scratch your head and go, why is that organization working with me And Richard at the time was me and Richard and I film, we had three employees at the time, so there’s about five of us.

Why are they working with us? And it was probably just down to personality. E it was down to like, and working with us whether they, they didn’t know how big we were or how small we were, should I say? And we were still scratching, why are these people working with us? Um, and we just thought, do you know what we can’t put in ourselves in that position anymore.

So regardless of whether we lose the contract or not, We are gonna strap it on and we are gonna tell them we can’t work to these 120 days. Um, you know, payment terms that you are asking us for, we’ve got our contractors on. Some of ’em on seven days, some of ’em on 14 days. You know, and they were working five days a week for, for large sums of money.

We were having to wait months before we even, you know, at some point we were, you know, maybe even I, about half a million pound, you know, in Yes. You know, and it was, it got to a point of going, we can’t do this anymore. We can’t sustain this. So, you know, recruitment was almost propping up the training business and we’re like, that can’t happen either.

we’re relying on us doing really well in recruitment just so we could do training. Um, but anyway, we fast forward to where we are now, where we’ve gone through all those real pinch points and pain points from cash flow issues or, um, learning about training and, and actually what we have got is a lovely associate pool of people.

Great people, um, that have supported us in our journey to develop. What I’ve got here, which I’m gonna show to the camera, which is our prospectus. Uh, which we’ve worked really hard to design, um, not just to make it look nice, But it’s the material that’s inside it, you know, it is been, it’s been designed and by, you know, people that many years experience.

Nishi: it sounds like you’ve, um, you’ve understood the risk of just working with like one really big customer, so it looks like you try to diversify your, your client base a lot more. And I think we had a customer who, um, you went into liquidation recently, and I did, I did warn them like a, a long time ago, but they had like one big customer that was making like 70% of, of their turnover. And, uh, those guys just pulled the plug overnight and the, the business, the business just went, went under.

But, um, One of the things I always talk to clients about is, is like, you know, if you’ve just got that one big customer, it does impact the sale value of your business because it’s more risk, you know, to get, again, increase the value of your business. You’re always trying to de-risk your business as much as possible, whether that’s a customer leaving, whether that’s a member or staff leaving, whether that’s your yourself leaving.

And, um, but the other side of, the other thing I wanted say is, so what does your team look like now? What, what does your business look like now?

Tom: it’s heavy on associates, uh, for obviously delivering training. Recruitment at the moment is, uh, myself and two, two people. So there’s three of us.

Um, we’ve got to a point of we’ve, we grew the business to multiple locations, um, just before Covid. Um, and because there were multiple locations, um, you know, we had to make decisions on where is our head office gonna be. And, you know, at the time, were people gonna be able to work from home? It was still like a who, who knows because it was, you know, this is probably a month after lockdown and we’d done the best we could to get, you know, keep people win our team.

Some people decided that they didn’t want to work from home full-time, believe or not, and we’re like, okay, so you wanna become unemployed? Fine. Okay. Um, so we lost a few people on the way, um, over our 11 years, you know, we’ve had some really great people. Um, you know, and some people have gone off to do it on their own journey, you know, and opened their own recruitment businesses, which, we can’t stop people from doing that.

Uh, it’s not nice. Um, but it’s quite nice so that we’ve probably raised them enough to be able to do that. Um, you know, and, and people that had six months recruitment experience came to work with us for three or four years, got all this lovely experience. And then gone at it themselves, you know? Um, and that’s a big risk in recruitment.

people start recruitment companies all day every day. No, and it could work in your bedroom, you know, doing recruitment. People wouldn’t know, would they,

Nishi: I guess the, the barrier to entry, um, there isn’t really a barrier to entry in terms of setting up a business, but there is a barrier ats entry in terms of building up your


Tom: Apart, if I decided today that I’m going to start a state agency, I would have to probably go through some exams. I’d have to go, you know, that, that’s what I mean in terms of entry. If, if you decided today I’m gonna recruit for accountants for my clients, or I’m gonna, you can just start initially recruitment if you wanted to.

I guess there’s no, you know, there is a bit of money that you’d need to invest into job boards and marketing and all that sort of stuff, but there’s nothing stopping you from doing it.

Nishi: Well, I think the thing that would get in my way is I’m, I’m naturally not great at just picking up the phone and cold calling.

Um, but you know, that’s a mindset thing. And that one thing I did wanna do is actually do some training on being able to do that. cause one thing I’ve notice is people who can do that, they’ve, they’ve got, they’ve got that security because they know that they will always be able to do that. And I think I, I wanna be one of those people.

we are really good at recruiting accountants and, but like we, we haven’t always had the best of luck with sales people though.

I think that’s the only, uh, that was the only challenge for us. So we’ve, but it’s quite good that you’ve been able to build up that recruitment team, that sales team. I guess people are always good at recruiting what they do themselves.

Tom: So the hardest thing is recruiting a good recruiter. It’s the, it is the, why is it so hard?

Um, for many reasons really, if you are a successful recruiter And you will either stapler Or you’ll start on your own. Okay. Okay. So if you are, if you are top biller The word, the phrase top biller in, in recruitment is you are just the best in the business, right? So top biller, if you are a top biller in your business, you’re probably adding too much money to have the motivation to move.

Or you’re gonna go and do it yourself. Um, and you are not really accessible to recruiters unless you’re going through a headhunt. Um, so there is such thing as a rec to rec. So recruiters that re recruit recruiters for recruiters, okay. That’s the specialist little thing because they can use all their head hunting functions and build relationships with good recruiters and sell them onto recruitment companies.

Nishi: But that applies to business development managers as well. Just because some someone’s really good sales that that business isn’t gonna let them go.

Tom: That’s another thing. He. I would say, I dunno the exact stat on it. But I would probably estimate 80% of recruiters don’t like business development.

And that would be another, you know, coming from an organization where you might not have to do much bd, um, because you’ve been there such a, such a while when you’ve, you’ve just created your accounts. When you’re an account manager or you, you just, you’re just okay with what you’ve got to then move on to do it somewhere else.

You know, where you’re gonna have to build a new desk where you’re gonna have to development, business development, or you take some clients just to give you a bit of a leg up. But you’re gonna have to do that graft bit. And that’s the bit that people don’t wanna do, um, for one reason or another. Not comfortable doing it.

Don’t like doing it. Um, people still then seem to think that I, I’ll go into internal recruitment because it becomes a lot easier. Um, does it, you just don’t have the bd bit. Um, you, you’re still selling, uh, because you’ve still got to. Engage with stakeholders, you’ve still gotta be able to hold your ground.

You’ve still gotta be aware.

Nishi: You know what though? I’d, I’d argue if someone’s in an industry and they want to take an easy option, then they should really be asking themselves should they be in that industry? Because, like, cause I mean that’s just saying them saying, well I don’t, they don’t want to develop essentially, isn’t it?

Tom: I would, I would say But I can see sometimes there’s opportunities to go internal. Which are very hard to pass or come across that you’re not gonna get the opportunities to again. Um, you know, there’s gonna be, you take companies like Apple for example. If someone come knocks on your door and might come and be the head of recruitment for Apple.

No, I don’t wanna go in town. I’m quite happy my, you know Being aware of in the morning, you know, checking my temps in. there’s that carrot that’s gonna be dangled. But If you are coming out of agency, which is normally a red flag to, of agency owners is Oh, so what’s motivated you to move on from.

You’re doing really well. I don’t want sells anymore. Boarded it. Okay. Or I don’t wanna do the resource then, which is the, the finding the candidate bit. So what, what is he calling it? So you wanna take away either 50% off the, the graft or the 50% of the bit that actually is to make the way you make money.

Um, you don’t make money by building relationships with people. Um, you know, and, and, and again, I I used it to, I don’t wanna come across as someone that, that uses recruitment as a money making exercise. Right? But that’s also something else that you define is the bigger the organization you go into.

So you work for a large corporate recruitment business. You are so driven that people start to become a commodity and people see pound signs on people. And that is not what I do. Uh, and that’s not what I see.

I don’t want you to think that this person’s just a pound sign. You know, you’ve, you’ve, you are helping this person with their life.

That’s how I look at it. Um, and it gets a bit deeper than that if you want to be deep with it. cause you could, why would I move you from here to put you here if I know you’re gonna fail. And you’ve already told me, you’ve got kids, you’ve already told me you’ve got a mortgage and that decision to move from there to theirs card anyway.

So to make it even more of a Oh, go on you, you’ll be really good at it. I’d never give opinions like that. I’d never give any advice like that. Mine is, if it feels right, it’s right. If it don’t feel right, hey.

Nishi: Right. following on from that, um, questionnaire about building the recruitment team?

What. I, I think what I’m trying to, why I’m sort of inferring from this is ultimately you can’t get high-end people to really move. So you gotta, you gotta nurture people from, from a more junior level.

Tom: You know, you could be a really good recruiter if you are a really solid salesperson.

Because that is the hardest bit. And the, the bit between client relations, the how to find candidates, how do you treat candidates? Brand awareness, uh, candidate experience, that can all be taught. But if you were to bring somebody into a business that’s never picked up a telephone before

Can never do, doesn’t want to do telesales effectively. Call, calling business development, whatever you wanna label it as they’re going to fail. Because the phone doesn’t ring itself and everyone in recruit will know. Branch managers out there will go, phone’s not gonna die itself. You’re gonna have to, you know, that phone’s not gonna call for you.

Um, you’re gonna have to call that, that person for them to know you. Um, you know, and there’s, there’s marketing tools out there. You know, if you’re emailing somebody, it takes like within nine emails to even get a response. You know, you’re not gonna sell on your first call. And that’s important for people to know too.

It’s not about selling on your first call, it’s about introducing yourself. You know, and, and actually that’s something I’ve learned over the, the, the last 11 years maybe. My approach to selling is different. And I dunno why. I’ve just sort of tweaked it a little bit where I’m gone.

Do you know what, actually I’m, I’m not, I’m not aggressive in my sail, my sales, and I don’t come across as aggressive, needy. All this stuff’s really important when you’re selling not, not to come across. Like, and actually it’s about listening. So listening to somebody is more important than questioning.

Questioning has it place, you know, but if you’re asking the right questions and you listen, Then your job’s being done for you in, in selling. Um, and it’s, you know, people can identify, um, sales opportunities or buy-in signals and all this sort of stuff. Um, you know, but it’s about how you react to that.

Nishi: I mean, this is a journey we’ve been on as well. Like, um, when we build the APEX program, before we used to get voted of our archives from seo, um, paper click advertising, and you know, if someone need an accountant and an out there saying, Hey, we’re accountants. It was, it was quite an easy thing. But what you’d then find is they’d be shopping around on price. And we’d, um, and a lot of the time, cause they were trying to do something urgently, they weren’t always the best client either. Some, sometimes they were great clients. But when, when we built, when we built more of a consulting and coaching solution and financial management solution, like the, the whole relying on sales urgency and didn’t work anymore cause it, it was all about building a reputation and credibility.

And we, we’ve had to, we, we nurture cu customers, potential customers in a different way. Like, you know, we have lead magnets and um, we, we have, um, content and, and, um, events, uh, things like that. And it’s, but I do, and also there’s, there’s advertising everywhere these days. So you’ve really gotta be really specific about who you’re helping and, and give them something that they want or they’ll find useful.

Tom: if I’m talking to a customer that I know full well is using eight of agencies, I’m CSF out of it. I’m, I’m not gonna be involved in it, and the client will know that. Yeah. If you are using five agencies on this, you do not need me. If you want to use two agencies, that’s fine. If you wanna use one, Then use me, but I’m not being involved in the race.

Nishi: Even from their point of view, that must be really inefficient having to like manage that many different relationships.

Tom: Their mindset is, if you’re casting it out far enough, you’re gonna catch a whale. Right. Exactly. But if, if you just want, you don’t need a whale.

if you could just imagine that if you are looking for a salesperson You approach me and say, Tom, can you support me with this? Um, I go, yep, sure, let’s have the brief.

How serious are you? I’m gonna do my due diligence. Effectively going, what is it you need from me? Um, and then you say to me, no, I’ve, I’ve spoken to seven of raids about this as well, and they’re looking, I’m gonna go, you know, do to just paint this picture. Those seven of seven of agencies are doing exactly what I’m doing.

Okay. There’s a network. That’s probably the advantage of, of using someone different Is they might know someone that we don’t like. Uh, but effectively, if you are using five high street agencies Uh, we are not High Street, but if you are using five high street agencies, they’re all throwing an advert out.

They, They’re getting the same applications. They’re all, they’re all registering the same candidates, clients. They’re all using the same job boards, which they’re all searching on. If you can just picture a lonely person fishing Yeah. In a, in a puddle. There and then bring in five other people to put their rod into that puddle.

And hope you’re gonna catch a fish. It’s not gonna work. If you all go fishing in the Atlantic, then that’s fine. You know, if you are all fishing in this massive sea, you are all gonna get different fish, different shapes, different sizes. Right. Well

Nishi: I think you are raising a good point cause one, one thing I I found that was quite useful when we’ve worked together in the past is you don’t rely on me to tell you the job wrong that I need you.

It’s, it’s more consultative. So it’s like, you know, what, what is the, the person, what do they need to do in, in the sense what, what would their responsibilities be? What kind of person do you need? And then essentially we then creating the job role from that. And I think that makes a lot of sense cause sometimes.

I’ve found with the recruiters in the past, it’s just like you, you give them a job title and it, they don’t question it. They, it is just like job ti and that’s where a lot of the time it goes wrong. cause I think a lot of business owners, they, you know, they know what they need as a team, but sometimes they don’t always know how to structure that role.

And then what will happen is you can end up getting a good candidate into your business, but then they’ll get frustrated cause the role hasn’t been structured. Right? Or maybe it was mis advertised because it, the, the thing you said it was, was actually a different type of job to what it turned out to be.

Tom: But this is the, you know, if someone’s using fiber rages and they want me to support them at the same time, um, what advantage do I have of over somebody that might not be a business owner that has never recruited a salesperson before or hasn’t got the same background as what I’ve got. In terms of, I’m, I’ve been sales contact center for many years Right.

And before recruitment. And then recruitment is still sales, so I am what you are looking for.

I don’t understand their determination, I don’t understand their ambitions. All this stuff, which is either gonna be really good for you or really bad. If, if you are, if you’re not asking the right questions, then I, I, I am giving you a job title. I’ve given you someone that might have done tennis this hours before.

I don’t know a hundred percent that that person’s gonna do well in your organization. but I’m 80% sure they’ll fit, you know, I’m not 20% sure that 20% is the, the unknown for me.

Cause I don’t work here. You know, that, that, I always have that in my mind going, this person has the attributes, the ability, the motivation, the the backgrounds to do it. Now that 20% is how well do they fit in when they’re here.And are they gonna be able to do the job correctly? Are they gonna be able to excel all that?

That’s the bit, I don’t know. Um, and I will never lie. And that goes for every. Everyone, my clients. And every, but some recruiters might not think of it like that. They’ll just go, I don’t, I don’t care. I’m making money, aren’t I? You know, and it is going towards my kpi. I don’t have a kpi.

That might be another usb. I don’t work towards Target. I don’t have meeting, I’ve gotta have 15 meetings a week. You know, 25 interviews out, 16 place, whatever. I don’t have that target, so that might help me. Not, and that’s why we don’t really, I mean we, we’ve got targets for our consultants, but they’re not aggressive targets.

They’re not Because people starting fluffing ’em out and start panicking. It’s, if you panic, you’re gonna sink. You know, we all know the, say if you’re go to the pool, just lay back. Right. Relax. You won sink. But people that are under pressure start panicking, which then start sinking.

And it, it’s just a, you go down at that point isn’t, you know, so our, our real target for our consultants is, this is it. Right. Get, get to here. That, that is whether we want you to build this much a year. Um, how you get there, that’s down to you. You know, if, if you wanna work night till free

And, and have a four hour lunch break, you know, that’s down to you if you do not get here. That’s, that’s the problem. Right. So if you are, if you’re setting someone that target, they will achieve it because they’ve got that flexibility to get there. We’re not sitting there going, so how many dollars you made today?

How many interviews out tomorrow? How many meetings you been on this week? That’s the pressures that people get in other organizations, bigger businesses, brightens and stuff. We don’t, we don’t target people like that.

Nishi: To have that mentality, you really gotta trust people. I think because. But actually, yeah, it does make sense.

You probably, if you hire, if you hire right, and you, you do trust them and you, you know, they’re motivated by the right things, then actually you can be a bit more hands off, uh, and, and let them be free to go achieve stuff. I think where a lot of business owners probably struggle from what I’ve seen is like, they don’t, their they don’t their, their expectations.

Like, you know, someone comes in, they’re effective like two months later and really like, you know, it can take six months to a year for that kind of, um, candidate. And, um, maybe that’s why a lot of businesses never try and build a sales team, um, because they just can’t, they can’t play a long enough game or they can’t, they don’t have the cash flows to sustain a long enough game.

But it’s so, it’s such an important part of,

Tom: I prefer to, to recruit for smaller businesses than I do bigger businesses because the thought process behind it is a lot more Um, than working for a large plc. it’s quite here. It’s easy come, easy go. You know it. I’ve got big client, big organization clients.

That I sit there and go, wow. Why, how, why are they working with me? Right. Clever. But they, I, I’m not saying I’d prefer to work with smaller businesses over that, um, but I just feel like I get something, I get something out of supporting a smaller business. You know, we’ve got a mutual connection that I’ve supported.

And what that’s done for him and his business could catapulting forward. Right. Just from recruiting two heads. And now to be fair, it’s been freeing four heads into his organization, but he from two recruits as, as given him probably 60% of his time back.

Nishi: What would you say to Peters challenge and fin to your business, just as we’ve been grub and scalable?

Tom: Um, COVID was, um, was actually quite okay for us. Um, we, we are generalists, which, which meant that some of our clients shut quite literally shut door.

Wherever clients were doubling their ships, you know, and some of them were producers, manufacturers to the nhs, some of them were producing health, um, vitamins and stuff. So they were, everyone was getting on a health kick. So they were doubling in size. They were, they were transporting logistics companies that we helped support.

Um, growing a customs team of about a hundred, 120 people. okay. Uh, in, in sort of 18 months. So I, I was kept really busy through, through Covid, um, you know, which was great. We, we didn’t know what direction we were gonna go, you know, lockdown was announced and, and that was as, you know, one of those moments again where similar to the cash flow, um, you had, it was almost like, um, it was every, everything was just getting knocked down.

So you, you, you’d made all these placements. People were due to start new jobs, people had left jobs, people, it was tough, real tough time. You had all these people lined up, start work with a new, new client or new business within the next sort of two weeks or so, and we were getting call after the call, after the call, after the call saying, Can’t start, this person can’t start, this person can’t start this person.

And then we were like, okay, fair enough. So we could just see literally everything was being eliminated from the ledger, you know, it was like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then all, and then that went the hard bit. The hard bit was then getting in touch with the candidate and going, you were supposed to starting to hear on Monday.

They can’t, well, I’ve handed in my notes and I feel really bad. I had nothing I can do. You know, it was tough. That bit was really tough. Um, cap row was obviously the, the biggest issue that we had many sort of, let’s say many years ago. It was only about five, six years ago. That was the real sort of pinch point.

Um, you know, gross, um, you know, recruiting good recruiters is tough. Um, we were in a location which really didn’t help us. Um, we, we were, I think that was the motivation and that’s why we opened. I opened a site in Mil Kings and I recruited more people in Milton Kings in six months than I had in five years of being a seven location.

So location was a real big thing for us. Um, At the time, so we, we know, we noticed that, but we were comfortable. Um, so we, we got comfortable. That was another probably pitch point. When you get comfortable, you, you don’t want to, you know, you don’t wanna get uncomfortable, do you? Uh,

Nishi: it’s, so, I, I think you’ve mentioned a few things.

The location seems like quite a relevant one. Um, but Okay. And, and what’s next for the agenda partnership?

Tom: So, training is, is growing massively. I think, you know, recruitment is, is growing too. Um, I think the, the recruitment business will certainly remain at the level it’s at. And we’ll, we will add additional heads to that in the next 12 months.

Nishi: You know, when you say recruitment is growing I, I, I, just so I can get my head around it, cause there, there’s a shortage of half a million people in the workforce at the moment. Isn’t That’s all the people that retired early or maybe that don’t wanna work cause Fellow taught them not to work.

Um, so that would lead me to believe it was shrinking. But then is it just cause you have to fight and are harder to go and get those candidates now. So actually there’s more work to do. Which means so,

Tom: so some organizations that you, you would’ve worked with before. Uh uh, let’s say you recruited maybe three people a year for Okay.

Now cause they were doing their own, their own recruitment internally. They were, they were, they weren’t struggling to find people at that time. And now all of a sudden they’re going, we can’t find this person. You’re gonna have to help us. So those free recruits that you were doing before, before that business before has now turned into 15.

So in terms of what I mean by recruiters, busy is more, Vegas is land than our desk daily than, than they ever have before.

Nishi: Let’s say essentially, because there’s a lot more competition in the market. The internal recruiters are, they don’t have the skillset to, so recruitment has gone hardest. The internal recruiters don’t have the skillset

Tom: and businesses are still growing.

I don’t want anyone to have the perception at all going into recession. I’ve not even had a conversation yet, though. Booms all, we’re gonna, we’re gonna stop until we get out this, you know, see what the next six months, we’re not having that conversation with anybody. Motivation’s like, boom, we’re growing.

Nishi: So for me, like we’ve always overstaffed and, but now more than ever is, uh, it, it’s just proving to me why you need to do that. Because when someone leaves, it’s, it takes longer to replace ’em. So it, and if you don’t want like, you know, operational gaps, then you’ve gotta, you, you’ve gotta do that essentially.

And, um, and, and maybe that’s what’s happening as well. A lot of these companies, they’re where before they might have had, you know, 10 members of staff. Now they’ll probably have 12 members of staff to do the same amount of work. And then, um, you know, free people out for training, things like that.

Obviously the cash flows and the margins need, need to work, but, um, I can, I can imagine a lot of, a lot of the jobs out there are just because, um, people are factoring it takes longer to

Tom: recruit. There, there’s, there’s, there’s natural attrition as well in organizations. Um, which people go, oh, how’s that equation work then?

Because if people are not leaving jobs, how does that mean? There’s natural attrition in, in businesses, but there’s growth and there’s attrition. Um, so we don’t know about every opportunity in, in, in the world, you know? Um, and we’re not just, we don’t just recruit from Northampton based organizations. You know, we’re not just Northampton chair.

Um, I, I mean, I’ve got clients everywhere, um, literally everywhere. And I’ve recruited as far as China. You know, and I’ve recruit, I’ve recruited in Madrid that’ve recruited in, in Italy, you know, but that’s, they’re for UK based organizations that recruit in, in those areas. Um, no, I’m not, I’m not pitching myself as a, a European recruiter by the way.

No, no, no. Um, but in terms of location, it, it, it doesn’t really, doesn’t really matter. Um, you know, when we’ve always been generous and we’ve always had clients everywhere, and that stems back to my time with selling online advertising. Because people were, didn’t matter where you were really, cause you’ll put advert online.

Um, so that client base that I was growing there followed me in, in different places. And they could be a Newcastle, they could be in Sheffield, they could be in Wimbledon. You know, it, it, I’m, I’m based here, but I support all these locations everywhere. Um, so it, I mean, again, it’s nicer to work with local people cause you can give it a little bit of a different feel.

Um, cause being in Wimbledon interviewing with people is it’s, you know, it’s not nice. Well it is nice but ain’t, it’s not, you know, it’s not something you wanna do Monday to Friday, is it? Right. Um, so, but And then go back to your, uh, sort of growth I suppose for us recruitment, uh, is going to grow.

Uh, training has just ridiculous. Um, it’s so we are, It’s great. Really great. Um, so we will be growing. Uh, not just in terms of investment. So, uh, the office that we’ve hopefully when the next, by the time this goes out, I might even been exchanged on, um,

that, that’s going to be our training center. Um, so it is a, it is big enough office, um, to, to house us a training center and probably a tenant or two as well, so, okay. It’s, it’s far too big for us. Right. But it was there, it was an opportunity. It’s definitely an investment worth it.

Nishi: It’s, you, you gotta take those offices as they come up.

Like we, we found it like you, we always. We had an office that we were too small to really fit in, but then we grew to fit the office. Um, but that office hadn’t come up for rent for about 17 years before then. So, um, When you, when you do find that perfect place, you just gotta, you just gotta get on it.

And, and that’s, uh, one of the decisions about growing a business, really. You gotta, you gotta invest today and then get that return, like, you know, later down the line. And a lot of people don’t have the confidence to do that.

Tom: But again, I I, I just see as most of the stuff we’ve done is organic.

You know, we, we had an opportunity, we took the opportunity, we ran with the opportunity. And now we’re, like I said, we’re, we’re, we’re in our ninth year delivery and training. We’ve only really over the last 18 to 24 months gone, you know what, why are we not selling this to our existing customer base?

As much as people want to recruit, they want to develop and retain. Um, so that’s been a, you know, a growing growth area for the business. And this is where I’ve changed my direction. Business development. I’m now starting to look at affiliate build relationships with people that can also go off to sell what we are doing.

Because they’re having conversations with people all at the time About the pitch points. And, and the two pinch points that hey HR Ency will come across is recruitment and development. So, you know, people that I’m, I’m working with really successfully. Um, and it’s just a base a case story of, um, developing those relationships


Nishi: And I guess, uh, really what I wanted to ask you is what advice would you give to someone starting up

Tom: if you’re thinking about it?

just do it. Um, if you don’t know certain things, You will get to learn them very quickly because there’s not a rule book. There’s not a handbook to, it’s like being a parent. You’re not told how to be a parent. You just, you just, you pick out, right? Literally the baby’s born. I’m a dad where I’m a mom.

I’ve gotta learn how to, to look up for this trouble. Right? Similarly with business, if you decide to start a business, Do you need investment? If you do, be careful what you, how you choose that investment. We didn’t have any investment. This, this business was started by my, my own money and Rich.

So money, um, would never looked at investment. Never, never borrowed a penny of anybody. Um, and would remain that way. I’d just be vigilant on that. I think, um, because I know people that have owned businesses that have had investment. And it, it’s never, it’s never normally ended well, um, As

Nishi: a small, with us, one, one thing I’ve realized is like having loans or investment or funding early on in a business, some people would look at it as like a really good benefit, but I’ve always looked at it as a curse.

And the reason for that is at the beginning of when you’re starting business, you don’t actually know what you’re doing. And the problem with not knowing what you’re doing and having investment is you blow the money really, really quickly. So. Well, I, I’ve always found like, you know, at the beginning of a business, you, you, you’ve learn when you’re learning stuff, once you’ve understood what, how to grow your business, once you’ve understood how to run your operations, that’s when the investment then can come, can, can come in really handy.

Tom: It’s, do you do what you are good at And let other people do what you are not good at. So this services out here, like accounting And marketing and recruitment and other areas that. If you are good at it, don’t try and do it because you’ll, it’ll cost you more money to unfix a problem

That you’ve created or really no need to create it. Um, and yes, people might think a small business, I’m a growing business. I can’t afford to pay for marketing or I can’t afford to employ somebody or pay a recruiter to recruit somebody, whatever the situation might be. Just if you can’t, then at least seek advice.

And again, I’m quite lucky, fortunate enough that I didn’t do it on my own. And I had someone that was far, far further forward than what I was academically Uh, experience wise, all of this stuff. You know, was way smarter than me. Stu is way smarter than me. So I had that luxury to fall back on someone else that knew the answer.

But I’ve learned some stuff along the way. I, I would just say if you can’t do it, Just, just don’t try and do it. Don’t hold back. If you’re, if, if you’re thinking about doing it, then just commit yourself to do it. The longer you think about doing it, you are not going to do it. You’re right. Yes. You’re just not, uh, if you have this sport in your mind and you’re writing a business plan and you are, you’re thinking, I’m gonna become a millionaire in four years time.

Have that vision. Absolutely have that vision. But don’t, don’t beat yourself up about it if you’re not where you need to be. And that’s what I said earlier on. I never set that ambition. You know, am I gonna be a millionaire? I’m not a millionaire. Will I be a millionaire? Probably.

Nishi: you gave me a really interesting sta a statistic a, a while ago, but, and I think it was just something about the average amount of time sort of stays in the job. Um, do, do you have that ta I think was it like, most, most people are in a job for about two years.


Tom: it’s, I mean, the average completely, I d I dunno the, the correct data on that. I, um, but yeah, I, I, you know, you are gonna get people that are in lifetime jobs. Uh, people that have been in an, a organization for many a years Yeah. Celebrating their 40th working year anniversary and the business.

Right. But then that’s different these days. Now my granddad’s. Worked for, um, Perkins, which was like a construction company in one road years there. He celebrated his 50th anniversary, working anniversary of that business. He only ever worked there and started working. Ever retire there? He just don’t get that anymore.

why don’t you get that anymore? Uh, I, I dunno the answer, but if it was me personally. I think other opportunities always bring themselves to you. Um, and the way that people worked back then to now is totally different as well. Um, you think of, you know, even apprentices these days, you know, school levers.

You ask any of them what they wanna do when, when they leave school. It’s probably gonna be led around social media, digital marketing. Um, I did this interest in volunteering, uh, for a. I can’t remember the name of the, the, the business owner when I was in Milton Kings. And basically all they did is they reached out to business owners, um, and asked if they would be interviewed by school at, by year 10 to elevens Oh, right.

Et cetera. And you had, you were sat here and there were free of them and it was up the speed they thing they just kept on one free and then they’ll move on the other. Next three come over. Right. Okay. They could ask you anything they wanted. Absolutely. Anything they wanted. And you could choose if you answered it or not.

Right. So the obvious question that a lot of them said is, what car did you drive? Um, or, uh, how much money did you make? Or whatever the question that you don’t have to answer. Um, and I reckon out of maybe 500 students that I spoke to, Probably a handful actually asked me, what did you do for a little bit.

Oh, really? Okay. Uh, how did you get into the position you are in now in terms of how did you fall into your. Current role because they were just all interested in the materialistic help. And actually you could ask one question back. And what I asked to all three of them is, what do you wanna do when you leave school?

And I would say maybe 70% or more said digital marketing, social media, something to do with the internet. Okay. All right. You know, you asked my granddad that when he was a, probably a 14 year old starting worker that, you know, in his day, what do you wanna do when you grow up? He would’ve, he would’ve just said, probably go work on my dad’s driving a tractor or something, you know, at the age of 14.

Um, you know, going down the mines or whatever, you know, he’s just not the same thing. Um, that’s why I think, you know, people don’t stay in jobs long, long, long time. Long term though is just too many opportunities come. There’s more entrepreneurs in the, in the country now. There’s more people that are willing to take that risk.

Um, You know, and, and people just will move on. It’s organic. You know, whenever I recruit for myself, I expect a five year life cycle. If that person’s going to leaving in, in five years or so because it’s just natural people relocate. You know, people might date someone in a different country and end up moving.

Um, people have a, a midlife crisis and go, I’m gonna up my stuff and move to Australia. And whatever it might be that those sorts of natural things Are gonna happen. Um, and that’s, that’s why I think, you know, to be honest with you, why do people not do it long term? Um, in answer to what is the average of, I mean, I’ve seen so many speak to so many people.

I would say the average is probably about two years. That I’ve seen, you know? Cause you do, you get the occasional one that’s been there forever. And you get the occasional one that’s been there for six months. And then you’ve got the ones in between there, like maybe two or three years.

Maybe five years. You know, again, is that acceptable in a cv? I don’t know. I don’t think it really matters.

Nishi: Um, it de I guess depends on the organization,

Tom: doesn’t it? Uh, so many people are caught up on, oh, this candidate Tom is, um, has only worked to his current business for four years, but Paul, before that he had free jobs in two months.

You’re like, okay, ignore that bit and look at what he’s doing right now. But then people are quick to look at a negative. This guy’s top villa, done this, done that, done this. Been here four years. Look at it. But Tom, let’s just drag you back to 2014 when he only worked this company for, looks like three months.

Okay. That was 2014. We’re now in 2023.

Nishi: I’ve always, I’ve always said to my team, maybe it’s a bit of a negative thing to say to them, but I’ve always said to ’em that, you know, um, people will remember you for, or, or people will judge you for the 3% of the stuff you don’t do, not the 97% of the stuff you do.

And I don’t mean that to be a negative thing when I say it to them, but what I, the reason I say it to them is I’m, cause I’m just trying to reiterate the importance of having credibility. And that’s something, that’s something we, we talk about like throughout the business. Like, you know, it’s not just my job to have credibility for the business, it’s everyone.

They’ve gotta show up in the right way. They’ve gotta talk to people the right way. They’re gonna prepare themselves before they talk to people.

But then the other side is, I, I go the other way and I’m like, actually, look, you know what things do go wrong, but actually let’s focus, let’s focus on the 97%.

Tom: You know, Harry Kane doesn’t become a bad goal scorer. Cause he didn’t score an dance game. You know, but if he scores a hat trick this weekend He’s now the best tracker in England. Yeah. But if, if he doesn’t score for the next four consecutive games, he doesn’t make him a bad player.

No. He just means he hasn’t scored. Yeah. You know, so for people quick to judge Jet, um, but that’s what we’ll do. That’s human nature

Nishi: help. One here note about business owners. Actually, one thing I’d really like about business owners and working with them is actually they, they tend to be less judgmental.

Like I, and what I mean by that is when I say business owners, I don’t mean the entrepreneurs and, and self broad people. I mean like business owners who’ve hired staff and like, hi, hiring staff teaches you a lot of humility because when you’ve got staff working in business, you, you end up taking responsibility for them and, and what they do.

And then I think there’s just this sort of unwritten rule between business owners where essentially we, we don’t, we don’t come out, we we’re really supportive even when things do go wrong because, but then the unwritten rule is also we, we move heaven and earth to fix it. But it, I think having staff teaches you that, because in the end of the day you can.

You because you, you are vulnerable when you’ve got staff, you, you feel vulnerable at times because your reputation is in someone else’s hands. And, and that is one of the good things about, um, working with small business owners, just that level of humility that you get.

Tom: I think it’s, they just have a lot of curve balls for another, haven’t they?

They, they, they’ve learned how to sort of, you know, dodge it.

So yeah. It, it’s, um, yeah, bus business owners I, I prefer to work with directly cause they do, they, they, they, they’re just, you know, they’re just having that commercial awareness, I think.

Nishi: So, Tom, it’s been absolutely amazing having your podcast. Is there anything, um, any final comments wanted made before we sign off?

Tom: Just as I say, just if you’re thinking about doing it, do it. Um, always seek some support if you need it. Don’t make your own mistakes. Yeah. Uh, or don’t make the mistake that it becomes your problem. Um, you know, just, just don’t get yourself in that vulnerable position. Um, and yeah, go for it. Yeah. You know that everyone needs to go for it.

Nishi: Thank you so much for that. There’s some really good words of wisdom. It’s been great. You’ve been listening to the Unrelenting Drive Podcast and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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