James Blackwell can’t say exactly where talent management firm Ronald James will be in five years’ time, but he knows for certain that he will always be ahead of the curve.
BQ and Atom Bank are hosting the inaugural National Entrepreneur Festival at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle upon Tyne on 21 November 2017.
The festival will see the presenting of the Emerging Entrepreneur Awards, which will highlight the tenacity, creativity, innovation and determination of the nation’s entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
We help Digital & Tech SME’s in the North East who struggle to find highly skilled developers within budget. We basically help people find jobs and companies find talent!
What did you do before you started this business?
Worked at a leading IT recruitment company Nigel Frank International for 5 years. Progressed all the way from senior consultant to a manager with a team of 8 and built a brand new market from scratch to just under £1million within the first year. I sacrificed a 6 figure payout from the business as I was eager to work for myself.
What inspired you to start up?
I wanted to work for myself, build a business and provide a service to clients in my own unique way. I’ve been entrepreneurial from a young age so it was always my plan to build an empire one day. I have a hunger and passion for business and I want to live my life to my full potential with no regrets. Getting out of bed knowing I have no one to answer too is a great feeling.
How would you describe your business to a novice?
We help digital ad technology companies find talent in the north east whilst also helping employees find new positions and enhancing their career in the region.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I surround myself with lots of different mentors who i have met from attending different seminars and actually reaching out to people on LinkedIn and meeting them for a coffee. I have managed to build up 10-12 people who can mentor me and guide me. I have met a Billionaire and 4 people that are worth more than £100 million each. It is important to surround yourself with successful people in all different areas.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I started by taking out a £15,000 personal loan and credit cards after turning down a £250,000 investment from Dragon’s Den Star James Caan. I decided I wanted to own 100% of my business with no one to answer to. This was a big risk as i had overheads and mortgage to pay.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Starting Ronald James is undoubtedly my proudest achievement. I set up the business with credit cards and loans, with no investment and no backing. When I look back to when we first started and compare it to where we are today, it fills me with such a strong sense of pride that I have managed to build Ronald James into the business it is today.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
We focus on a really micro niche sector and solely specialise in that space. Which helps us get great traction and a strong reputation quickly within the region. We work with almost 100 businesses across the region and have become a Leading brand within IT Recruitment.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Its great because i can work when i want, where ever i want and as much as i want. I have the freedom and flexibility to grow the business the way I choose, there’s no better feeling than having your own business.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
5 years is a long time and with the way growth is moving in the Tech Sector today, we can only anticipate dramatic change over the next 10 years. Our main goal is to reach £10,000,000 by 2022. I can’t say exactly where Ronald James will be. I know for certain that we will always be ahead of the curve, we’ll never be set in our ways, reluctant to change. I’ll always make sure the business is on top of trends and following technological developments across the world. The most successful people learn how to adapt to change.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always keep growing, I think it’s important to invest a lot of time into self-development. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, read books and reach out to other successful mentors. Listen to successful people, ask them what worked for them. Surround yourself with mentors. Go for it and take risks. I spend around 15 hours per week improving myself. Growth is the number one tip!
Why did you enter the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Awards?
I want to help and inspire other, younger entrepreneurs to take the leap. By showcasing what I have achieved it will hopefully inspire others to do the same in the future.
What would it mean to you to win an award?
I would be hugely flattering and special to be recognised for the hard work, long nights and the dedication I have put into my business over the past two years to build it to where it is today.
For more information on the event, click here.