In the run up to the Christmas (what seems like many moons ago now!), I had the pleasure of catching up with Mark Hopkins, Managing Director of Thomas Lee Recruitment. SSG have had the privilege of supporting Mark & his venture for a year now & I felt it fitting to sit down with Mark & talk about his experiences over the last year or so & how he has found the transition from enthusiastic employee to motivated Business Owner.
1. Why did you decide to launch your own recruitment business?
I had been in recruitment for 11 years at the point at which I started Thomas Lee; I spent years being a BM of teams – some worked, some didn’t – some I loved working for and some I hated. It was always my intention to do something for myself. For at least the last 2-3 years that yearning was growing and growing. I wanted to create my own thing, my brand, my philosophy in recruitment.
2. What had stopped you in the past? (what concerned you about starting up on your own?)
I’ll be honest here. Me. I kept giving excuse after excuse, “what about bills?” “what about the car?” – day to day things that really amounted to nothing. It was really my belief I can do it. Self-doubt is natural, and I think, we doubt ourselves because we fear failure. When I met David Jones & SSG – that fear disappeared – It was like a weight off my shoulders.
3. Did you look at any other options before deciding to launch with SSG?
Yes and no, I looked at doing it myself – the cost was immense – but more so the “on my own” – sorting out accountancy, and advertisement, Credit control, raising invoices, designing a logo, even simple things like Websites! – I never did this before, I went on a Learn Direct course to learn more about this. But the more I learned – the less I wanted it on my shoulders. I knew SSG was the logical and best approach.
4. How did you find the launch process with SSG?
Speaking honestly – In life you get what you pay for. I didn’t pay for anything, and SSG did everything purely from trust and gut feeling I was going to do what I said I was going to do. The communication, the service, the personal approach – everything, it blew me away, I have never had such a service. It was amazing.
5. What challenges have you faced being a Recruitment Entrepreneur?
3 challenges I found hard and overcome –
1. First time you bill, when is it going to happen? Have I done the right thing, OMG! – then you bill, and the next challenge is “is it going to happen again!” then you bill again – and you start relaxing a bit more. And start believing in you.
2. Creating a system in your life – this isn’t a 9-5 – this is a 7 day a week thought process at the start. Why? Where? How? Always questioning the things you do, which you need too. I even called Clare a few times to get some advice – she’s been brilliant. As time has gone on, I have a system, but one I challenge every month to make sure it works.
3. You read blogs about entrepreneurs doing things – and you look at your self-thinking – “oh, I don’t do that? Should I?” Ignore it, do what you feel is right, because at the end of the day, you know it’s working, you’re getting jobs in, and at least filling them the best you can – then you are on the right road.
6. What elements have been “easier” than you thought?
Motivation – it’s there, every day – I never worry about work, I am excited about the next day! New challenges, new problems – getting them resolved. We struggle with motivation in our lives, I’ve been there, dreading work on a Monday morning. Now, God, now I am itching to get work done!
7. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting up on their own?
First thing is, is it for you? If you are yearning to be your own boss and have accepted failure more times than you have had fast food, then do it. It’s not for everyone. Fear is natural, fear keeps you sensible and reminds you, you are alive. But remember it’s just an emotional response to the unknown. And if you go with SSG – these guys have already walked with many companies into this vast space of business start-ups. They can and will help you.
Also – Other than, do your research and build a business plan, costing and how much beans and toast you can live off (note, I never ate beans and toast once!) – other than that, ignore the naysayers, this normally comes from people that are not concerned you will fail, they are more concerned you will succeed!
For those of you who already know Mark, I am sure you will agree when I say that there was no doubt that he was going to start this own business one day. SSG were both excited & motivated to make sure that from “Day 1” we were able to support Thomas Lee Recruitment in the most efficient & effective way, in line with Marks ambition & passion. Safe to say that the last year has been both challenging & exciting & we wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to many more years of progress & growth for Thomas Lee Recruitment – with Mark at the helm I have no doubt that will be the case.