We celebrated Circle‘s first birthday on May 28th this year and like many business owners, the reality of celebrating your first birthday is that it’s really celebrating your 5th or 6th, as that’s when you first started thinking about the business. I know I had thought about it before I met Ben, so longer than 6 years, and we properly started discussing it soon after we met!
I’m always incredibly honest about how I’m finding things, what we’re going through, the good, the bad, the bloody painful, and I’ve always been very honest about why we started the business and what we want out of it. We don’t proclaim to be experts at running a business and when some people have laughed and said ‘but what do they know about running a business?’ the answer quite honestly is Z E R O. Why would we? But the answer is that nobody does until they’ve tried. What I do know though, is what our purpose and intention is. I know the service I want to provide. I knew the way I wanted recruitment to be done, I knew I wanted to treat clients & candidates with respect and transparency after witnessing the horrors of high street recruitment agencies and all that came along with them.
Just before Christmas, I was working with a new client who I’d never worked with before and had been appointed exclusively to manage 4 positions for them totaling around £12k revenue (just a reminder that we were 7 months old at this point). I had a candidate on interview who was waiting for feedback (he had been waiting around 2 weeks at this point of which I was on the phone to him everyday apologising), the client was ignoring my calls and sending me very short emails saying he was busy. When I eventually spoke to him, he said the candidate was a good fit for the role but he didn’t want to employ him as the candidate was caring for his poorly mother and he didn’t want a member of staff who would call in sick all the time. The candidate may I add, worked part time alongside doing his Masters and had a role upon completing his Masters. He didn’t even send apologies to the candidate for making him wait 2 weeks. You’ll notice I wrote, ‘I was working with…’ at the start of this paragraph. I swiftly disengaged with the client and walked away from £12k on the grounds that I wouldn’t represent an unethical organisation and he didn’t reflect our values or inclusive recruitment practices. It’s a two way street right? I’d never ever been able to do this when I worked in recruitment agencies as it’s ALL ABOUT MAKING MONEY. Nothing about values.
The photo in this article is of 2 drawings, sellotaped to our office wall at home. The top one in red is Ben’s, and the one below in green is mine. We had a strategy day about a year and a half ago one weekend and part of the session was to go into separate rooms and draw what we wanted from Circle/from life. Luckily, they turned out to be very similar! (Phew!) We both have happy people/teams/community/positive impact on the world & the place we live, a house (mine has solar panels on, not a line of windows in the roof), a beach (they aren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on mine, it’s us in diving kit), the tractor looking thing is a Volvo (got a thing with Volvo’s – strong and sturdy!) a big vegetable patch and some farm animals. Ben has rugby posts and I think it’s wine and cheese at the bottom although it could be rum! From the very beginning, happy people and having a positive impact in the place we live and the wider world has always been extremely important to us but equally I’m not ashamed to say we want to go on holidays – who doesn’t? Staying true to our values, who we are, and how we want to make money – in the right way – is more important to us than just making it from any client who doesn’t share the same values. What we can do with Circle is really exciting – we’ve discussed community cafes with training programmes for young offenders, mentoring programmes for people of lower social mobility, plans for the Big Bath Build – it’s endless!
The point I’m making is, I believe, you don’t have to be an expert in accounting or building a website, you just have to stay true to what you set out to do. Stick with your beliefs and find some awesome people who can do all the bits you can’t! Helping a business to recruit better, map out a new role for growth, finding someone a position that helps shape their career and providing a great service is what I’m good at and if it takes me longer to bring the drawing to life by sticking to our core beliefs then so be it. I’m incredibly chuffed with what we’ve done so far and our testimonials and clients say it for us. Here’s to the start of year 2, but really it’s the start of year 7, or maybe 8…
Written by Elle Chappell, Director & Co-Founder