My Big Break — How I ended up where I am today.
When I look back in time, there are a number of opportunities or pivotal events during my career that have shaped my business and personal life into what it is today. I am sure there will be many more of these in the future.
The topic for the LinkedIn calendar this month is “My Big Break”. They are encouraging business owners to share their stories, upload them to LinkedIn with the hashtag #MyBigBreak, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share my story with you.
Big Break #1 — The recruitment agency that gave me my wings!
In 1999 I had secured a new job as a Recruitment Manager. The business was owned by two ex HGV drivers, and they only had one large contract. They knew that having all their eggs in one basket was not a good business move, therefore my role was to develop other divisions. I was so thankful for the opportunity as I was running my own business, learning all about profit and loss, managing staff, and developing business without a foot-fall (as we were based on an industrial estate). With exception of weekly catch ups, I was completely left alone to run the business my way, and we achieved an annual turnover of around £2.5m before I decided to take the plunge and work for myself.
Big Break #2 — Securing the contract for JD Wetherspoons
In 2003, when I started my own recruitment agency, I was working under a restrictive covenant. I was unable to work with my established client base for a period of six months. This forced me to go out and find new business, which was a real blessing! As my previous agency was located on an industrial estate, I had been conducting interviews each week, for a period of four years with the local job centre. This meant that I had built a good rapport with all the staff and I was often rewarded by hearing about the gossip of new businesses coming to town. In the first month of the doors opening to my brand new agency, I also secured the contract for JD Wetherspoons. I am thankful to the people at the job centre who steered the HR person my way, and we grew this account to £20k a week within a few short months. What an opportunity that was! (And friggin hard work 🙂 ).
Big Break #3 — Being set a challenge!
Green Umbrella would not be a business if it was not for my husband hating camping, and setting me a challenge! I know this sounds crazy, but I really wanted to buy a Camplet trailer tent (yes, I am a keen outdoors geek). My husband controlled the financial aspects of the recruitment agency and he refused to let me take the money out of the business for a “fad”. He challenged me to raise the money myself, and I started running social media training workshops for local businesses. The workshops were so successful that I felt there was a need for others to learn the joys of social media, and this soon became a passion of mine. Twelve months later, in 2011, I had sold my recruitment agency, and Green Umbrella was now a fully fledged social media agency. I have not looked back.
Big Break #4 — An introduction to TEAM
It had not really dawned on me that I should specialise in social media for the recruitment agency. Someone that I knew had asked me if I would speak at an event in Southampton for TEAM (The Employment Agency Movement). I met with Tricia from TEAM one afternoon in January (literally two weeks after I had gone full time in the business). She interviewed me to see if I was a suitable speaker and potential supplier for their organisation. I remember waiting nervously for two or three days to hear if I had been accepted. When I received the seal of approval I never looked back. This introduction was a pivotal point in my career, as I now speak all over the country, and TEAM introduced me to the Recruitment Expo, Global Recruitment Live, and APSCO (which we are also suppliers for).
We now supply recruitment agencies up and down the country with training, social media management, and strategy planning services.
I enjoyed writing this blog as it is a good exercise to look back and appreciate the opportunities that have been sent your way. I am a big believer that you create your own luck. However, I urge you to grab those opportunities as and when they come your way. It is only when you look back, do you realise how important these decisions were.
Originally published at www.green-umbrella.biz on September 1, 2016.