Chris Stappard of Edward Reed Recruitment
After working in the banking sector for several years, Chris Stappard spotted a gap in the market for a specialist recruitment firm. Now he tells BQ about his career so far and why he chose to set up his own business.
What did you do before you started this business?
Before founding Edward Reed Recruitment back in 2015, I worked for a number of high-street banks, starting out as a cashier and working my way up the career ladder to become relationship director. In this role, I was responsible for a portfolio of 40+ North East SMEs within the manufacturing, engineering, retail and not-for-profit sectors. Working alongside businesses and directors, it was my job to provide financial advice and banking support.
What inspired you to start up?
Having worked so closely with clients during my time in the banking sector, I recognised that there was a gap in the North East market for a comprehensive, service-led recruitment firm that specialised solely in management level recruitment and wasn’t limited to what industry it worked in.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Edward Reed is an independent recruitment firm based in Newcastle upon Tyne which specialises in mid to senior level management recruitment of finance, HR, operations, sales and marketing and IT roles across a multitude of industries.
Too often, recruiters rush the recruitment process in order to get candidates across the line. At Edward Reed, our approach is different in that we take the time to really get to know our clients’ businesses and understand our candidates’ needs so we are more likely to make perfect placements that will benefit all parties.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Edward Reed is like a professional matchmaking firm. We help businesses to find perfect staff at the same time as helping people to find great jobs.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I am very lucky to have three business mentors who are all heads of their own respective businesses, operating across three very different industries. Because of this, as mentors, they can provide me with very well balanced advice because between the three of them, they have been there, seen it and done it all, so they are a fantastic bank of knowledge and support.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Edward Reed is in a unique position as a start-up in that we are completely privately funded. Each partner in the business made an initial investment and since then we have grown organically through our successes and invested the profit back into the business in order to drive Edward Reed forward.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
There are two main achievements that I am extremely proud of. The first, of course, is getting the business off the ground in the first place! It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to start something from nothing and watch it grow. The second is when we took on our first full-time employee. It was really exciting to bring someone new into the business, show them what we do, and see them get behind the brand.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
At Edward Reed, we are very client-focused. We place a really high emphasis on building strong working relationships with our clients and really getting to know their businesses, so that when they require our recruitment services, we know exactly what kind of candidate will be a good fit for them from both a professional and cultural perspective.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Naturally, there are lots of pressures that come with being your own boss, but it is incredibly satisfying. There is a common misconception that being your own boss means that you get to sit back, put your feet up and drink tea all day while everyone else works, but that is absolutely not the case! As the head of a business, you are responsible for all of the people in the business, which means that you probably end up working harder than anyone, but when you love what you do, it’s a small sacrifice to make and it definitely helps you to find out more about yourself and what you’re capable of.
Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
We have got some ambitious plans to grow the business over the next few years. Although Edward Reed is and always will be a North East-based business, we would like to open some satellite offices in major cities across the UK so that we can start to provide recruitment services to businesses on a national scale.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Starting up a business is all about calculating risks and then deciding whether or not to take them, but it is also about believing in yourself and your ideas and having the confidence to take a leap of faith. I would advise anyone who is thinking about starting up their own business to first work through the financials and put together a solid business plan which outlines what you want to do and how you’re going to achieve it and then, simply go for it!