WHAT A YEAR TO START A BUSINESS
CT19 was born out of a sarcastic, yet slightly serious comment on holiday in Spain back in July 2019. I joked about starting our own business, without putting too much thought into what that could possibly involve.
I had never really thought about ever working for myself and always quite liked the element of security that comes with being an employee. The paid holiday, guaranteed salary every month…and of course a Christmas party!
It all happened quickly – we returned from Spain and Tayla (Director @ CT19) registered the business on Companies House and that was it, we were directors of a company.
I remember speaking to my parents about it…
” What if it doesn’t work out, what about the risk?!”
BUILDING A BASE
One thing I discovered very quickly was that I ‘m not very good at building office chairs, that’s for sure. I was fiddling around trying to put this chair together, praying that my ability to build relationships with new clients was better than my ability to build office furniture!!!
Sitting on my newly built chair, laptop open with LinkedIn on one tab and our old CRM on another I thought to myself…
“What do I do now?”
…that was quite scary. Where do you even start? We were very fortunate in that I left my former employer on good terms and we already had an agreement in place but speaking honestly…that wasn’t going to pay our mortgage!
We had a very clear vision in my mind about what we wanted from our brand.
First impressions matter, don’t they?
That’s why we spent a lot of time thinking about our logo, website, colours and even detail down to which fonts we were going to use on all our material. I have the advantage of having internal recruitment experience, and the first thing I would do if someone called or emailed me would be to check out their website.
CT19 isn’t a ‘typical’ recruitment company, and I don’t want it to be. We truly care about the clients and candidates that we work with, and the relationships that we’re building will be long lasting.
So, November was our first full month, and we were making steady progress. A couple of connected calls here and there, founders of companies connecting with me on LinkedIn but no real traction just yet. It had been a year since I had been involved in any kind of sales or business development activity, which comes with the territory of moving to ‘the dark side’ of internal recruitment. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified about failing.
Christmas is a notoriously quiet time in recruitment, so we took the opportunity to take some time off, knowing that if we were to succeed then 2020 would be a lot of hard work, long hours and sacrifice.
COVID 19 – A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
January & February were really positive, we hadn’t filled a role yet but we had attended several meetings in Oxford & Cambridge, we were getting terms agreed with clients and I was starting to believe that we could do this.
March 2020 – We were really starting to see the results of our hard work. We had second interviews booked and new jobs being registered. I felt confident, we were going to be okay.
I couldn’t believe it. I had just received news of our first formal offer, and it was a good fee too, I was absolutely buzzing. The offer was verbally accepted, start dates being discussed and then…it was pulled.
A recruiter’s worst nightmare, worse than an offer being rejected.
I was just devastated. We had worked so hard to get to this point and it was all taken away by something totally out of our control.
A sleepless night followed. What were we going to do? If companies are pulling offers, then surely, they are going to stop hiring all together. If companies aren’t hiring then we don’t really have a business, do we?
If I’m being honest, we had completely discounted anything that we had going on at interview stage. We were preparing for our jobs/interview board to be wiped totally clean…but then…TWO DEALS!
Sat on the sofa with my laptop open, trying to come up with ideas on how we were going to be successful when the phone rang…
“Chris, we’d like to offer two of your candidates”
This was it; this was the buzz that we so desperately needed to give us the inspiration to keep going through this pandemic. I immediately called the candidates, and both were delighted to accept the offers.
WE HAD DONE IT. We had proved to ourselves that we could develop a relationship with a new client, understand a role brief, take it to market and introduce highly qualified candidates.
Lockdown was a weird time for us all. For us personally, we were in the middle of house renovations and a week away from collecting a puppy – it was all going on!
We had no choice but to temporarily move out of our home and in with Tayla’s family up in Norfolk. I’m grateful for that time in the countryside. We felt a million miles away from everything that was going on, and that gave us the opportunity to think about a plan moving forward.
It was a little bit strange, things actually got busier and busier during lockdown. Fortunately we had secured new opportunities based on pre-existing relationships, and for the first time I actually thought…WE HAVE A BUSINESS.
TWO BECAME THREE
In August we were able to bring Nadia into the business, something that was always a target of mine for our first year. We weren’t actively looking for someone to join, but Nadia was an unfortunate victim of the pandemic and we had been pretty busy, so the timing was right and it made sense for both parties.
Nadia has a background in biomedical science, and is very passionate about working with our existing client base and introducing top talent into their businesses.
Nadia has been with us since the 3rd of August, has already made her first placement and as I write this, has more 2nd/3rd interviews booked than I can keep track of!
We’re incredibly proud of the work that she’s done and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her at CT19.
2019/2020 – SUMMARY
As I sit here writing this, I am beyond proud of what we’ve achieved and it’s made me so enthusiastic and excited for the future.
We have terms agreed with 19 different companies, a number that is way beyond my expectations when we started this journey a year ago.
I’ve learnt that I am pretty hard on myself, I expect a lot from myself professionally and personally, but even I have to sit back and be happy with what we achieved in our first year in business.
1) Buy a ready built office chair
2) Never count your chickens
3) Recruitment and golf are rewarding and disappointing in equal measures