It feels like it was only yesterday when I was writing my application and business plan for The Apprentice. I was confident my idea was a great one and I was determined to succeed but I would never have imagined after a gruelling 12 weeks on The Apprentice (televised to more than six million viewers I might add), I was going to win, receive a £250,000 investment and a business partner like Lord Alan Sugar. I still pinch myself sometimes.
I worked in science recruitment for six years after graduating as a Biochemist. This wasn't enough. I wanted more. Being a scientist through and through I wanted to set up a specialist science recruitment consultancy that really changed the landscape of science recruitment and did things differently. Not just putting candidates into jobs, but placing real people into jobs that actually make life-changing differences to healthcare. This became my ambition.
With any new business the first thing you need is cash and lots of it. I knew it would have taken me a long time to raise the funds myself. So where was I going to get that kind of financial investment especially when we were still in recession? BBC's The Apprentice came to mind.
It was a massive gamble; with over a 100,000 people hungry for the investment I almost didn't apply. I also knew Lord Sugar had never been involved in a service company before so the odds were stacked against me. However, my motto has always been to try rather than to regret not even taking a chance. So, I applied.
As The Apprentice progressed I soon realised how much Lord Sugar had to offer. Honestly speaking, at first it was just about the cash but that soon changed to wanting mentorship. This made me even more determined to win. Setting up Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) was my goal and I wasn't going to let anything stop that dream from becoming a reality. Hearing those famous words "You're hired" has definitely changed my life...
Four years on, I am proud to be the joint owner of Lord Sugar's first ever service company. Lord Sugar is certainly a person who invests in people who care, are committed and determined to succeed. He certainly has an excellent eye for detail, can identify risks quicker than I have ever seen and will speak open and honestly. He is the most direct person I know whether you like it or not. I have certainly learnt to be thicker skinned from working with him so closely.
Having experienced what it's like to set up my own business I feel I can offer sound advice to budding entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business. Building and establishing a new business is not easy. The reality is it takes a great deal of commitment; drive and dedication to only scratch the service on what your dreams can be. I spent hours and hours to get my business off the ground it didn't happen overnight. In the first 12 months I had to make so many sacrifices all of which I would do again in a heartbeat if I went back in time. This included ending my wrestling career (I had try-outs with the WWE, so it was a big thing to walk away from). I knew if I wasn't prepared to make these big sacrifices and didn't put my heart and soul into my company, then it would fail.
The business continues to grow from strength to strength and I am still as hungry today as I was four years ago. I am delighted to say HRS is now a leading scientific recruitment company and currently aiming for its £10m revenue milestone in the next 12 months. Will be launching our services across newly identified technical recruitment fields in early 2017. With 25 employees and growing, we are opening new offices in the coming months in to major UK cities, to aid the next phase of our expansion plans. Due to our robust apprenticeship and training scheme for consultant development, we have a highly qualified team of recruiters. This did not happen easily, so be prepared that with whatever you do business wise, that you have a plan for the future. Too many entrepreneurs do not have a robust enough business plan and live blissfully ignorant in the clouds.
Having a team of likeminded people has certainly helped us to achieve success. It's this success that drives me to think about the future. I haven't stopped making plans. What the business has achieved in such a short period of time is incredible and most importantly, we have changed the lives and careers of thousands of individuals. Something I am all about.
I am living proof that if you set out to achieve your ambitions, with hard work, commitment and long hours, they really can become a reality. My advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business is to follow your passions and you will no doubt reach your goal. Just be realistic! Not everybody can be a Zuckerberg!
The Apprentice gave me the platform I needed to raise investment to set up HRS, however it is not for everyone. Don't forget The Apprentice is a TV show. It may have worked for me but it is the lessons you develop day to day, and the person you are, that really makes the difference.