Welcome back to Work.It – the podcast all about entrepreneurship, inspiring founders and British business, brought to you by Work.Life and Angelica Malin. This podcast aims to inspire you for your own business journey; with hands-on advice, real stories and insider tips from some of the UK’s brightest entrepreneurs.
This week, Angelica is joined in the studio by two incredible business leaders to talk high-growth, forward-thinking start-ups: Katy Leeson, MD of Social Chain, and Rob O’Donovan, Co-Founder of Charlie HR.
They start off by chatting about the importance of “nimble growth”, inspiring teams and nurturing creativity. Katy first started at Social Chain, a global social media marketing agency, 2 years ago, and explains how its grown exponentially “we’ve gone from a group of university dropouts, to over 700 people and 5 offices around the world”. They’ve succeeded by using social media marketing and high-follower count pages on Facebook, and working with brands to get placements on these pages with the page owners.
Human Resources wasn’t Rob’s first career, he started off in agencies before becoming the entrepreneur he is today. He launched Charlie HR, a human resources software tool for SMEs in 2015, alongside his two colleagues, Ben + Tom. He’s passionate not just about business, but the people within, “agencies are all about people. It’s about talent and time – it’s so important to find amazing people”. He set sail on his mission to help more people hire, manage and inspire the right people for their companies.
Hoorah! Your business is growing, however, this raises some issues of its own. The way you adapt to your growth is essential, “think about the inflection points” says Rob, “it’s easy when you’re small, but as you get bigger (12-15 people), suddenly communication becomes harder and once you hit 30 people, it gets even harder.” He explains how important it is to stay forward-thinking with more people involved: “The more you grow, the harder it is to communicate internally and keep the company moving forward”. It’s important to work out how you’re going to build your company, and scale without losing vision for the future.
Without creativity there would be no Social Chain, it’s embedded in everything they do and Katy talks about how important it is not to standardise the process; “we’re a very creative company, and one of the reasons we get so much PR and publicity is because we do out-of-the-ordinary things that are disruptive”. She explains, “For us, it’s been important not to overly process to stop and stunt that creative flow. Time makes things so much slower – we try to keep nimble and continue to test boundaries”.