Running a big business is a big job. Reuben Singh is at the helm of alldayPA, a telephone answering company with a difference, and he tells us what it’s like being responsible for 275 staff.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As the founder of alldayPA, I take an active role in leading the company. First and foremost, I work on identifying issues that our clients might be facing, and spend a fair amount of my time working on solutions and products that are more responsive to their needs.
We’re a big recruiter in the area, with 275 staff, who are able to provide our fantastic service to SMEs nationwide. I’m also the sounding board for my management team, helping them to shape their ideas and grow the business further.
What is it the company does?
alldayPA is a telephone answering service. However, unlike other companies of our type, we do more than just simply message taking. We offer businesses, including IT, retail, legal and online companies, a range of services such as dedicated customer service lines, appointment booking, online orders verification and diary management.
Beyond that, we offer a number of bespoke services, from 24/7 emergency call-out lines for facilities management clients to handling some very sensitive calls for charitable third sector helplines.
Whatever the phone answering-related problem a business has, alldayPA will create a tailored solution. It’s likely that you’ll have spoken to a member of my team and never known it – we provide a seamless caller experience.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started my career while studying for my A-levels, when I established Miss Attitude, selling women’s clothes, accessories and cosmetics. I opened my first store in the Arndale Centre, Manchester, and the business grew exponentially.
It was this experience, and understanding the challenges that start-ups and small business owners face, that inspired me to launch alldayPA in 1999. We moved to a new £5m headquarters in Salford in 2015, now employing 275 people in the area, and continue to expand our tech offering which, as a business owner, makes me incredibly proud.
Over the course of my career, I’ve achieved many things, from having my portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery to being recognised and honoured as a Pioneer of the Nation by Her Majesty the Queen. However, getting alldayPA to where it is today, despite all the setbacks, is my proudest achievement. It means so much more to me than any material achievements.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think there are several things that make a leader great, and it takes a bit of a mix to make it all work. Treat your business like a child – to succeed in business, it has to be your number one priority. That being said, it’s also important to keep a rational head, maintain perspective and ensure your judgement isn’t clouded.
Ultimately, you need to have a clear vision, as well as be able to explain it succinctly. As an entrepreneur, your biggest challenge will be getting buy-in from people, as it’s only you who can see and feel its potential. If you want your business to succeed, others need to believe in it too.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I think the biggest challenge for any business owner is delegating – it certainly was for me! Finding people who will be as dedicated to your business as you are and who understand your vision will always be difficult, but if you communicate that vision effectively, the team you build around you can also share in it.
When you find someone you can trust and delegate to, they’re absolutely worth keeping happy.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
During the working day, I simply find that walking away and taking five minutes is a great way to keep a cool head. Outside of work, I am a big movie fan and find relaxing with a good film the easiest way to unwind. However, I don’t get much time to with three kids!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I definitely spent a few years dreaming of being a racing driver – I couldn’t get enough! I was exposed to the family business at a young age and I was very aware of what terms like ‘profit’ and ‘loss’ meant. Seeing a business grow to the levels that my parents’ did while I was growing up had a profound effect on me and I wanted to build an empire based on their example.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
My biggest pet hate is when people disagree with an idea without providing an alternative. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a differing point of view, it’s what makes life interesting, but it drives me mad if people aren’t willing to offer a different solution. I’ve found that a good way to prevent this is to create a working environment where people know their opinion is valued. That way, when they disagree with an idea, they will hopefully feel confident in putting their own ideas forward.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I hope to be employing 1,000 people. My dream is to have alldayPA become synonymous with intelligent business management. We want to be the ‘go-to’ telephone answering service in the industry for those who want to optimise your business.
We’re exploring much more within the field of non-voice services too, so email management and live chat customer service solutions for our clients. Anywhere that people can talk is where we want to be.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
My advice for any aspiring business person is to fail, and to do so sooner rather than later. We all experience it at some point in our lives, so it is best to do it when you have less to lose.
Also, when you recover, you no longer have the fear of it holding you back. Once you let go of this fear, you will be able to make your business stronger than ever before. It’s the biggest business lesson you’ll ever learn.