We're celebrating our first birthday here at CaterPeople - we are one whole year old!
Given the number of UK businesses that fail in their first year we feel very lucky to be here, and very privileged to be thriving and working with such wonderful people and businesses.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and that was certainly the case with us. When we found that the demands of big company recruitment couldn't be combined with the needs of our families we knew we had to find a better way to make a living - a way to have a career AND a life!
Recruitment obviously - its what we do - but as we never expected to be doing more than making a bit of cash from the back bedroom we didn't analyse the market and put together a business plan targeting the most profitable markets - blah, blah, blah. We decided to just do the kind of recruitment that we really loved and that genuinely interested us: hospitality recruitment working with "wow" properties - places where we would have loved to work or stay or eat ourselves.
And we could never have imagined how well this would work - seems like doing what you love might be the best business plan after all.
We made ourselves a rule that we would only work with people and businesses we like. People who communicate and are honest, people who treat their staff well, who pay their staff (and us!). What this means is that we will only place staff into businesses that we believe are going to be genuinely good places to work, and we'll only work with candidates who we believe will be good team members. We ask ourselves every day "Is this a someone we like and want to work with?" We've made a few mistakes along the way, but generally, going with your gut and trusting your instincts has served us well. And now we work with some great people : clients, suppliers, candidates and team members who are loyal, fun to work with and have supported us through our challenging times.
We were terrified - I mean actually terrified - of being in business without the shelter of a big company brand. I mean, little company, new company, no ones ever heard of us is anyone going to take us seriously? Want to work with us? Want to work for us? Guess what - it doesn't make a blind bit of difference. In fact, I'd say our dinky little brand has served us better than the big corporate brands we used to work for ever did. People respect that we are small and an owner managed business, they know they are getting personal service. They like that we are properly specialist, they like that we have personality.
In our previous big corporate recruitment business hiring our own staff was a nightmare - so difficult to find good recruitment consultants. We thought that as a small business we'd massively struggle to attract good people for our own team, but we couldn't have been more wrong. When we advertised for staff at the start of the year we were inundated with great candidates and have hired 2 great guys: Josh and David, who have taken to the business like ducks to water, give a fantastic service to our clients and candidates and are a real pleasure to work with.
We were determined to do recruitment with work/life balance. We knew we could do manage this working from the back bedroom, but could we do it when the business started to grow? Apparently yes: it seems that its not necessary to spend 10 hours plus per day stuck in the office to be an effective recruiter. All our team work an average 7 hour core day (with working from home an option). We all talk to candidates and clients in the evenings and at weekends but we do it from the comfort of our sofa's, our gardens (or the pub!). We're a successful, growing recruitment business that offers genuine flexible working and proper work/life balance - how cool is that?
Don't get us wrong it's not been all plain sailing - banks are genuinely rubbish for small businesses and we've yet to find a phone company can do a new installation without messing it up. We've crossed swords with a couple of clients who turned out to be pretty dodgy underneath their glossy exteriors and we've had to ditch one or two suppliers who haven't delivered on their
But overall our first year has been a lot of fun and we're looking forward to all that year 2 has to offer!