Simply Business met with several British entrepreneurs at the Business Startup Show in London's ExCeL centre. We've asked business experts about their startup tips to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of starting or growing their business. In this interview, Geoff Newman encourages startup owners to approach business ideas with flexibility, creativity, and a critical eye.
Simply Business: Could you just introduce yourself and tell us more about your company?
Geoff Newman: I’m Geoff Newman. I’m chief executive of a business called Recruitment Genius. Recruitment Genius is a flat-fee recruiter. We’ve effectively revolutionized the recruitment industry by making it really cost-effective. We fill any job, anywhere, for just £199, with no hidden taxes or costs.
Simply Business: You’ve obviously set up your own business or a couple of businesses. Could you just talk a little bit about your experience of starting up those businesses and what you learned from them?
Geoff Newman: My first business was an internet business focusing on the property industry. I set it up while I was in university, and it ended up going public and sold out then. I later came in to take over recruitment businesses, set up job boards, and now at the present time I’m with Recruitment Genius. It’s been a real blast. I think I’m completely unemployable; I’m difficult to work with because I’m very creative and always coming out with new ideas. But I think that’s one of the great things which enables me to go ahead and set up some businesses, which I find to be great fun. You’ll kind of find that all of the businesses I started have a really high degree of creativity to them. I think that’s what every entrepreneur needs: to have that real great idea… to think differently, to think outside of the box.
Simply Business: Are there any top tips that you’ve picked up along the way in starting up these businesses that have succeeded?
Geoff Newman: There are so many people at this business show, and they’ve all got some great ideas, but the most important thing is to actually put those ideas into action. I reckon that only about 20% of the people at this show’s fair can actually go ahead and follow their dream. The great thing is that they’ve taken action. But the really bad thing is the stigma attached with failing. If something isn’t working, then just ditch it; don’t put all of your money into it, all of your effort, because you’ll just end up in tears and you’ll probably lose your house. So, don’t be afraid of failure. If it isn’t working, do a pivot. Take for example, Napster… They were there for selling music, and they got sewed. It wasn’t working. So, they then used the same compression algorithm that they had been using for music for video conferencing. They set up Skype, and Skype has just been sold for over £8 billion to Microsoft. That’s what I mean. When it comes to failure, don’t be concerned that what you’re doing at the moment isn’t working. Just do a pivot, try something different. Keep on trying, have loads of great ideas, and most importantly, have great fun.
Simply Business: Is there anybody that you’ve had as a mentor over the years that you’d like to talk about?
Geoff Newman: I’ve had some great advice from some really well-known entrepreneurs. Rich Branson is someone who is a great influence in my life. CJ Robinson as well; he has run many big PLC companies. And we’ve just recently had some great advice as well from a gentleman called Pierre White, who works at Barclays. The great thing about these mentors is that they add some real balance, because you can sometimes be working so much in the business that you can’t see an elephant in the room. You can’t see that what you’re doing actually isn’t adding any value. Or, perhaps you’re just going down a completely wrong route, and they’ve got the experience and the wisdom to see things differently. Many of these people are so successful because they do things differently, and that’s the reason why I love and listen to my mentors so much.
Simply Business: If there was one final thought or tip that you could give somebody today who is thinking about setting up a business, what might that be?
Geoff Newman: That’s a really difficult one. I guess the reason why I’ve had so much fun, and what I’d like to think of as success, is that I really like to be critical about the industries I go into, and then really creative about the solutions. I just really go with the flow and take it as it comes. Don’t get too worked up about anything. So, I’d say, be critical and creative about what you’re trying to do, and just relax and enjoy the ride. It’s brilliant fun.