By Jade Bennett
With Middleton Executive’s third birthday just over the horizon, I’ve been reflecting on the last few years as a startup business, both professionally and personally. I’ve been asking myself what have I achieved? What have I learned? Would I do anything differently if I could?
Pondering these questions has made me realise that we need to change the language and the image around what it looks like to start your own business.
Yes, it is a lot of hard work. And yes, the hours at times are long and the pain is real, but more than that it’s an absolute blast and quite possibly one of the most rewarding endeavours I’ve ever undertaken. I can’t talk about other people’s experiences, but I can share my own experience in launching a boutique tech recruitment startup, and what I’ve learned. In short, I’ve loved every minute of setting up my own business, but it hasn’t been without it’s challenges…
The startup mindset
We’re all familiar with the rhetoric of business ownership and the sacrifices required, but if we change our language and mindset to be more positive and supportive, perhaps more people will do it, especially females. I’m not saying that it’s an easy thing to do, but for me it has been enlightening and has changed my life for the better.
The reasons for this fall into three categories listed below:
Firstly, my journey into being a business owner has been one of discovery and experience; discovering so much about myself, my candidates, and my clients. I’ve been able to test my ideas out in the real world and see what works and what doesn’t in an ever changing and hugely competitive tech marketplace.
I’ve also been able to discover my own limitations and then push myself beyond them. Even when I thought I couldn’t, I’ve found a way to keep going. I’ve discovered how important it is to surround yourself with the right people – your tribe! And it’s this tribe who will test, challenge and push you along the way.
I’ve experienced what it’s like running a small business and had to learn a range of new skills; from small business accounting to marketing. It’s been a challenge learning how to operate outside of my comfort zone every day, and although that’s been scary, it’s also been super exciting and rewarding. I’ve learned to delegate in the truest sense of the word; you can’t build a business single-handedly. The people who join you on this journey will shape your business’ future, and more importantly, the culture.
Scaling my business has been slower than some, but it has been worth the wait. For me, hiring my A-team means we have the right people on the bus who have all bought into the vision, and ultimately the mission of Middleton Executive.
It’s been deeply rewarding to build something from the ground up; to start with a blank piece of paper and watch the vision come to life.
When deciding to leave the comfort and stability of the corporate world, I had for the first time in my life the biggest case of ‘imposter syndrome’. I questioned and doubted everything. Can I do this? Will people want to work with me? Why would they? The list goes on. But deep down I knew it was the right decision and I had to trust the relationships I’d built over the previous 10 years in Australia. Truly believing that there was a different way to recruit, and the value I could offer in being a niche boutique player instead of the operating the traditional recruitment conveyor belt.
Building a business isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is deeply rewarding and fulfilling. It does change your life and hopefully for the better. The biggest change for me has been the ability to spend time with my family. Originally from the UK and where the majority of my family still live, this hasn’t always been easy or possible, but now it is. I can work remotely – at times from the UK – and still deliver for our clients.
Ever since inception almost 3 years ago, Middleton Executive operates as a remote-first working environment and it’s an honour to be able to offer this level of autonomy and flexibility to our team who have the flexibility to work from home, or the option to work from our shared office space as suits them. This enables the team to blend their work and personal life goals without the confined limitations of a workplace that dictates that way they must do this.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”
– Winston Churchill –
4 tips for your startup journey…
I’ve been blown away by the support I’ve received from people and have made it my mission to help anyone who needs support starting out on this journey. The road to business ownership can be lonely, but I firmly believe it doesn’t need to be. So, for anyone thinking of starting their own business, my top 4 tips would be:
- Get an Accountant from day 1 – they’re worth their weight in gold and will guide you every step of the way, after all you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the tax man.
- Get a lawyer – a really good lawyer. You’ll have enough to do without trying to navigate the complex legal world. Getting the right advice for your startup from the get go is the best way.
- Take the time to build your business plan – what does success look like? How will you measure this? Build your P&L and manage cash flow – cash is the lifeline of small business! From here identify your ‘big rocks’. This is what I call my ‘big ticket items’. If I only work on these things my business will grow. This keeps me on track and ensures I’m investing my time in the right areas.
- This may sound harsh, but know when to say ‘no’. ‘No’ to work that isn’t in your sweet spot and ‘no’ to ‘nice to have’ catch-ups. You need laser sharp focus in your early days as a startup so maximising your ROI in key.
If any of this resonates with you or you’re about to embark on your own startup journey, feel free to reach out to Jade for a chat; she’ll be only too happy to share her do’s and don’ts! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.