Abigail Stevens

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What was your first job after leaving school/further education?

Receptionist for a PR and advertising agency.

When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?

Think Global Recruitment started in July 2000. ?I had been a senior manager with another recruitment agency which was going to go through an MBO. ? They held an assessment centre to identify potential Directors for the buyout. ? My skills were identified as being suitably entrepreneurial and they decided I had the appropriate skill set to manage the company. ?When? I considered this, I realised that I had heard the words ?we have always done things that way? too often and decided to start my own business. ?I decided that I would rather make my own mistakes rather than inheriting those of others.

What did you find most challenging at the beginning?

Juggling the admin involved in running a business alongside revenue generation and cashflow.? The economic downturn started within months of the business having launched which was obviously another challenge.

Who did you ask for advice & why did you choose them?

Our accountants, for finance and legal advice.? Having worked with accountancy firms previously, I selected a firm which was experienced in working with entrepreneurs. ?It was a spin-off from Lyon Windram Crolla ?- the firm was subsequently bought by Anderson. ? I also contacted Scottish Enterprise for ?the support they give in terms of start-up loan/grants and other beneficial resources.?My business partner had a legal background and was a great sounding board. ?He was my Non-Executive Director and able to give inpartial advice due to not having a hands-on role in the business. ? After a year or so, I joined the Entrepreneurial Exchange. ?This enabled me to tap in to advice from other more experienced and successful business owners. ?After a few years, we took on Non-Exec Directors who had experience of building and selling successful recruitment businesses.

How did you fund your business?

Credit cards – yes, really! ? I also took out a small, government-backed business loan & my business partner invested too.?? We have used invoice financing over the years, although it can have pitfalls. ?We are now self-funded with no overdrafts or loans.

What would you do differently now looking back?

1) ?Grown more slowly, giving our Managers more time to develop. ?2) ?Use our in-house managers for remote offices and not those from outwith the company. ?3) ?Not make redundancies so quickly. ?4) ?Diversified earlier so that we had a wider range of services during the recession – contractors for regular income and not rely solely on the financial services sector.

What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?

The right managers with??go for it? attitudes and strategic planning. ?Also listening to and taking advice from others. ?Perseverance is also key.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

  • Cashflow and the worldwide recession.
  • Recovering our equilibrium having made redundancies.
  • Several maternity leaves occurring simultaneously at the height of the recession.
  • Sourcing and hiring the best people for the business.
  • Retaining staff at the height of the recession. ?This hadn’t been a challenge pre-recession and is now stable again.

What are the future plans for your business?

Continuing with our innovative approach to recruitment and launching new projects.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?

If you have the drive, desire and tenacity, then go for it. ?Seek and listen to advice whilst still believing in your gut instinct. ?Also, ensure your loved ones are supportive, they will need to appreciate that they will be sharing you from now on.

Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.

I am naturally very shy at networking!

And finally, why did you join WeDO?

To meet other like minded individuals to share ideas, good and tough times.

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Categories: Member Profile Interviews

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