"Setting up in a recession is the right time to do it," Anne Heraty
"You test yourself... you have a lot of discipline around what you're doing."
When setting up a business, it's only natural that you'll want to give it as good a start as possible. That said, what motivates you in the early days can often be what motivates you throughout.
When CEO Anne Heraty set up Cpl Resources plc 30 years ago in the middle of a recession, every customer was worth their weight in gold. Speaking on The Architects Of Business, in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, Anne said starting off in the tough times can often pay dividends:
"I think setting up in a recession is the right time to do it.
"You really test yourself, you’ve a lot of discipline around what you’re doing, you have to bootstrap."
In a way, having to face such massive challenges puts things into perspective. As host Sonya Lennon said, it strips the business down to "bare bones" stuff, and suddenly what really matters will come to the fore.
"It was really about the customer"
Running a business is anything but straightforward, but at its core it's really about the customers. Providing the best service or a product of the highest quality is what ensures their loyalty, and doing it consistently enough for them to recommend you is how you grow.
This may seem like an overly simplified outlook, but as Anne said herself it's what got her through an incredibly difficult period:
"Even for us in those early days, it wasn’t even so much about the revenue we were generating or anything like that. It was really about the customer.
"And what we really appreciated were the customers who called you back and recommended you to others. That was how we measured our success. We got really excited when somebody gave us a recommendation.
Understanding this as CEO is one thing, but making sure all ships are sailing in the same direction is another. Setting a business up for success, no matter the financial or societal climate, is something that requires making sure you're not trying to fit any square pegs into round holes.
As Anne said herself:
"It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people. It’s about self awareness about your own skills and your own capability and then surrounding yourself with the right people. If it’s early stages that doesn’t have to mean that you hire, you build out this big team and hire people in.
"The other thing is to just build your network. Build your network through clients, build your network through partners and advisors as well.
I think that network is really important. And certainly for me, it’s been people along the way that have given me a nudge on. You know the times when you’re not sure about something and they just say ‘No, of course you can do that.'"
Seeing as Cpl was voted as the Best Place to Work in 2019, the 2006 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Winner and current Chairperson of the Judging committee is pretty well placed to give advice on such matters.