Becoming an Entrepreneur

In light of ‘Global Entrepreneurship Week‘, I caught up with our MD, Ben Thompson, to hear all about his experience of becoming an entrepreneur.

What made you want to be an entrepreneur?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say they want to become an entrepreneur, but rather they want to own a business. I also don’t think many people realise they are an entrepreneur until they have been doing it for a while. But for me, it is the sheer desire to control and to innovate and continuously grow. I currently own Thompson & Terry Recruitment, but I do have another announcement coming soon, with me becoming a 50% shareholder within another business, so it’s just the constant desire to innovate, grow and become successful.

Prior to Thompson & Terry Recruitment, I had a successful corporate career and what led me to setting up a business was the hunger to accelerate my own career. I would constantly look at the companies I had worked for and think how could I improve this, what would make this better, could I streamline the process etc. I believe entrepreneurs are people who want to better things, opposed to wanting to own a business.

Since becoming an entrepreneur, what has been your biggest lesson learned?

‘Failure can often be more successful than success’. When I look back to my first taste of it (aged 10), I had chickens and began selling eggs and I ended upmaking around £50 per week. But I believe that I have always been more successful after making a mistake. In 2018, I really tried to scale the business, I bought all the shares, got a new office, upped the marketing spend and invested in every area of the business to encourage growth. But actually, I was just forcing growth and this really taught me that whilst innovation is the goal, it can only work when it is a natural process and not forced.

After learning this, I focused on what services Thompson & Terry offered and what we could do ourselves to achieve growth. We have now streamlined the entire business process and focus completely on what we offer. This doesn’t just stop at recruitment, this also applies to our own staff – offering genuine career paths, monthly training sessions and promotions.

Before taking on jobs, we take time to learn about our clients and really understand what the job is, before they choose to invest. This is one of our biggest achievements – being able to offer a transparent, ethical and honest recruitment solution to our clients. We have learned that how much we spend on offices, advertising, meals out etc are not key motivator’s, but actually, it’s about what we offer and how we do it. By doing so, we have quickly become considerably more profitable than ever before and have seen our biggest level of growth (which has continued throughout COVID), which came from the lesson to grow naturally and not force things.

To summarise, it is easier to fix something that isn’t working, rather than improve something that is working well.

What inspires and motivates you to continue pushing forward with your business?

I get the most enjoyment from the impact my business has on people around me (promotions, career growth, giving responsibilities and learning opportunities for staff). Also, by innovating better solutions for both clients and candidates. Often a new job can change people’s lives and seeing how we can improve candidates lives by helping them achieve a job offer is very rewarding. Additionally, most of our clients are SME’s, so also for them, placing an incredible candidate can really enhance their business too.

What is important to remember is that I always appear calm above water, but underneath my legs are constantly moving quick. I am always looking for new ways to innovate, do things differently, offer better services and to do things quicker, more efficient and better.

What was the best advice you have been given?

  • Be nice

Often you do need to make tough decisions and as a wise man once told me ‘nobody wants to do a bad job’. It is so important to remember that although the job might not be working for someone, act with integrity and dignity and help them out. People are people at the end of the day.

  • Resilience

Often being an entrepreneur can become very lonely and can also be very turbulent. One minute you will be on top of world and then you can be at rock bottom, so it is essential you can stay level headed and be resilient. It’s about how can I improve those mistakes but also, how do I not get carried away when things go well.

  • Networking

I am constantly networking; it has been a huge asset to both my business and I. I’m always connecting networks and introducing people and since starting networking, I have networked over £500,000 worth of business across Oxfordshire. So it is important to remember to do everything you can to help people around you so that the business community can grow together.

Using just 5 words, what qualities do you believe you need to become a successful entrepreneur?

Resilience, Empathy, Kindness, Innovation and A Network.

 

Thank you to Ben for your time and I hope this has inspired others!