Balance celebrate 10 years in business!
Tuesday 29th May 2018 marks the official 10th birthday of Balance Recruitment!
This is a HUGE achievement for Balance, and so we thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you the experiences of our founding directors and what they’ve made of the first 10 years in business.
Richard and Kath first worked together back in 2006, and soon realised they shared an ambition to start a business, with each bringing different, yet complimentary skills and experience. We got them together in our City of London office to ask each other about reaching this milestone and here we share with you their thoughts on the journey so far!
Richard’s questions to Kath…
How has your role changed over the last 10 years?
My role is constantly evolving depending on the needs of the business. At the very beginning, my main function was setting up the actual business and looking after all the financial/tax/legal/regulatory requirements of a start-up and also being the only administrative/support person for the business. I even spent time ‘outsourcing’ myself as an accountant to other clients – simply put, when it’s your own business you do whatever needs doing. My current role is still very much looking after all the non-sales elements of the business, however I have now also absorbed more of the commercial duties including developing a more ‘numbers focused’ client strategy and running the sales meetings to allow the Sales Director more time to sell and consult.
What does reaching 10 years in business mean to you?
I honestly believe this is a huge milestone and one that really needs to be sung about! We don’t pat ourselves on the back enough (in fact, never) and then when I speak to my friends outside of Balance, they all say what an amazing achievement it is. To quote a stat, only 4% of start-ups will make it through to 10 years – so woohoo that’s us! It also means it’s time to reflect and learn from the first 10 – and perhaps now be more confident as to what direction we steer the company in.
What do you think is the secret to Balance’s success?
I can’t actually answer this question without sounding ‘cringey’ but it really is the people. Although we are a small team, we know that every member is right for Balance. This, along with other factors of course, makes it very difficult to expand our numbers. We’re not cliquey, but we need to fit and having the right culture is key. I am certain the next few hires will be the most difficult! It really is saying something that the team we now have on board have been around for an average time of 6.5 years – that’s just unheard of in recruitment!
What’s been your proudest moment over the last 10 years?
Can I please not have, say, my top 3?
1) Walking in to Suite 609 at the BE offices in Beech St with you on 29th May 2008, thinking WE’VE ACTUALLY DONE IT!
2) Tracey winning her ‘Employee of the Year’ award in 2014. Although I wasn’t at the ceremony, I found out about this FSB award and encouraged her to enter (well, made her!) but just felt it was well-deserved!
3) And now at our 10 years, thinking WOW! Can’t actually believe we’re here, and although there have been some INCREDIBLY difficult times, (yes, yes, “No-one said it was going to be easy”, I know!), it really is something to be proud of, a real accomplishment.
10 years means a lot of Christmas parties and social events. Which has been your favourite and why?
Ooh too many to choose from! Oh, but actually I’ve got it and Rich, you won’t think this is even NEAR the top of my list! It was a quarterly event at Urban Golf and we were in teams. I was on yours and I was standing there watching one of the opposing team take his swing for the other team … and then another and then another. I can’t explain, but I genuinely thought I was going to wet myself, I was laughing so much and now even typing these words, I’m laughing again! Haha. Yep that wins.
Kath's questions to Richard…
What do you think is your biggest personal achievement over the last 10 years?
I think the biggest personal achievement happened quite early on, which was getting the right team in place here at Balance. Being a new name in the market back then, and competing against some very well established recruitment brands, it’s an uphill battle as a small business, particularly with the economy the way it was back then. Fortunately we were able to bring the right people in, who had first-hand experience of working within the legal finance market and who knew our approach was always consultative and with the long-term interests of candidates in mind. Sorry if that sounds like a sales-pitch!
How do you think the legal finance sector has changed in the last 10 years?
It’s chalk and cheese in my view. Finance teams of law firms are no longer just back-office, compliance and processing functions. Within modern day law firms, finance teams play a prominent position in supporting firm strategy, helping to review and improve performance and profitability, working much closer with practice groups to improve financial management and having a far greater involvement in the client dynamic. They are more advisory and able to have a greater impact on the bottom line than ever before. Technology has also played a huge role in the changes we’ve seen, particularly over recent years when investment in this area has ramped up.
As my daughter would say, TOP 3 THINGS?
1) Awards! We’ve had some great success with industry awards. It keeps us on our toes too – you have to innovate and try different things to have anything interesting to say about your business.
2) International placements – recruiting for overseas roles is not an easy task, but we’ve had a great success rate and it adds a bit of intrigue when you’re learning about difficult cultures, customs and living standards in far off places. Earlier this year I was told that my name had come up in conversation between 3 people having dinner in Cayman, as they were all there on business, and that’s when they realised I’d placed them all in their current firms (one based in London, one in Hong Kong, the other in Cayman). Of course, I told them that this happens all the time! I’m still awaiting a client-paid meeting overseas though ;)
3) Our offices – we moved late last year to new offices in Bishopsgate and it’s really given us all a boost. Way more modern, with lots of different areas to work throughout the building. It’s slightly hipster with ping pong, beers on tap and dogs trotted about, so I’ve been growing my beard accordingly to blend in.
What have been the major changes & challenges in recruitment in the last 10 years?
The recruitment industry is constantly evolving and being challenged from a variety of different angles. Job boards were supposedly going to kill us all off years ago, and more recently the growth of in-house teams and LinkedIn, yet we’re still here and the recruitment industry is thriving. There have been changes though, with the necessity for recruiters to be genuine specialists in a niche market becoming increasingly clear. We’ve also had to become far more experienced in marketing, social media and brand development. I like to think we’re pretty good at that!
What would be your main piece of advice to someone looking to start up their own recruitment business today?
Seek professional advice from a qualified medical professional!
Seriously though, be prepared for some hard graft and brace yourselves for some challenging months from time to time, particularly when establishing your brand.
It’s also good for your sanity to make sure you can switch off at the end of a long day/week too. My daughter’s a great tonic for that. Aged 5, she’s not remotely interested in what I’ve been doing all day, and I can’t say I blame her!