Meet the MD: Gary King, Tendo Ltd

Meet the MD: Gary King, Tendo Ltd

Starting off his career in engineering, Gary King now heads up Tendo Ltd which helps SME business leaders take their organisations to the next level. Gary King spoke with BQ about what it’s like to run a busy company.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
I work with SME business leaders to help them take their organisations to the next level. I’m a strategy expert, a mentor trusted advisor and a non-exec director. I ask the difficult questions that can take you out of your comfort zone which is where the results commence.

In doing so I help leaders and businesses deliver improved business performance by making them accountable and supporting their decision making. I work with the business leader and the senior team to ensure alignment & focus are achieved & maintained and they have the skills & confidence to grow with sustained results.
What is it the company does?

Tendo gives SME leaders the business, income and lifestyle they desire by creating a simple and dynamic strategy and supporting them to achieve the business growth they want.

We’ve worked with more than 100 SMEs across the UK, driving growth and helping owners identify, and crucially deliver, the right strategy.

Our unique and simple strategy cover all key aspects of business – talent, finance, operations, marketing and sales – and identifies the key numbers you need to achieve to move business leaders into the next league. Whether you want to build a business to sell or just get paid what you’re worth, we create the conditions for SME leaders to do that.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started my career as a management trainee and still use the problem-solving skills I learned here and at university in what I do today.  

I spent 14 years at a £45m turnover global manufacturing business, working my way up from being a design engineer to heading up product development, marketing and customer services teams.

After that I spent nine years at a FTSE100 £2bn turnover organisation, leading business turnarounds for smaller companies in its portfolio. I also held global sales and account management roles looking after multi-million spend FMCG brands.

In 2010 I decided I wanted out of corporate life to take control of my future and founded Tendo to use my strategy skills to help smaller businesses grow and deliver results for their owners.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Great leaders inspire, innovate and push the boundaries. They have to be flexible and responsive, unafraid to make bold choices and they have to lead by example.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Creating a strong brand for Tendo is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had.  Most told me that setting up a consulting business at the start of a recession was crazy. I’ve worked hard to consistently deliver results and build a strong reputation for making a difference.

Scale is the other issue I face. In common with many of the companies I help, building a business that’s scale-able and saleable and doesn’t rely on the business owner is the holy grail. To do that needs a great strategy and hard work, luckily I know someone who can help!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Genuinely, there is no stress with my job. I’m doing what I love, working a flexible four-day week and balancing my home life with earning what I’m worth.
The major stress in my life is Leeds United who I travel 6,000 miles per season to watch and after 30 years, I’ve come to realise that there’s precious little I can do about that!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Not many people know this, but I wanted to be a chef. My parents were always foodies owning restaurants and catering businesses and that rubbed off on me. People who know me know that I’m still really passionate about food. I’ve even founded a peer to peer support business, Food4Thought that combines my love of food, strategy, mentoring and networking.
I didn’t think I’d be good enough as a chef though, so went to engineering college instead which has led me to where I am today.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I can’t stand lazy people, and linked to that is poor attention to detail (which is just another symptom of laziness in my book). To avoid having people like this in your company you should be focusing on shared values ahead of skills – you can always teach skills. I often tell clients to hire slowly and fire quickly, a mantra I live by.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

We’ll be delivering strategy and mentoring to around 1,000 clients a year through a combination of a network of high-calibre trusted associates and working smarter with online products.

The online element means that business leaders can access support 247 and from anywhere in the world, meaning we can help businesses outside of the UK.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Leading a business is tough. Find what you love to do, work hard, have a deliverable plan then stay focused on it and surrounding yourself with the right people. You don’t know what you don’t know, so find a trusted advisor or mentor who can act as a wise man and help fill in the gaps.