This interview is reproduced with the kind permission of Transmit Start-Ups, where Ralph Savage is an advisor, helping people to obtain start-up loans.
Deborah Witcomb launched her HR Dept franchise in February 2017, providing quality outsourced HR services, covering Fareham and Southampton. After continued growth and success she is now adding to her team and moving into new offices. We thought this would be the ideal time to have a chat with Deborah and discover what her first year in business has been like and what she has learned from it to date.
What is the nature of your business?
I bought a franchise license from the HR Dept and started the business in February 2017 from my home in Totton, New Forest. The HR Dept provides a personalised service – we don’t operate call centres and we build strong relationships with our clients. We add value by being local and responding quickly to your needs. It’s a professional and bespoke service that offers practical and pragmatic advice at an affordable price. We genuinely aim to feel like a seamless extension to your business and in essence, your HR Dept.
What has your business achieved over the last year?
I began my journey with ambitious growth plans and after just eight months had nine retained clients on my books. I then went on to secure a business loan last October and was able to expand the operation by acquiring a second HR Dept licence, enabling us to widen our reach across the Fareham and Whiteley areas.
I’m very proud of what I have achieved over the past 12 months and pleased that what we offer clients has been so warmly received. The HR Dept will always keep you legal and up-to-date, and we add value by being local and responding quickly. I very much enjoy solving and preventing other people’s problems. There are so many businesses struggling with issues and it’s affecting their revenue and overall performance. I work with business owners to quickly understand and expertly address the problem, whether it be a high rate of absence, poor office culture, lack of leadership or a disruptive employee.
What have you learnt from the first year in business? Is there anything you would do differently?
I really thought it would be tough to replicate a corporate income and made all concerted efforts to get rid of all our luxuries, gym memberships, cleaner, horse livery, grocery delivery, etc and pull the belt in as far as possible. However, it wasn’t long before the luxuries were reintroduced to our household and in fact, in approx.. month 8, we’d reverted to all our high-end habits! I also never dreamed I’d have taken on a second territory in month 9! If there is anything I would do differently it would have been to focus my target audience to a wider market of SMEs of different sizes.
Would you recommend a start-up loan from Transmit Start-Ups to other businesses?
Yes absolutely, Ralph my main point of contact was fantastic and really helpful. He made sure I had everything I needed and kept me updated. I haven’t used the free business support as this was something offered through The HR Dept in the set up phase, but I can see that this would add real benefit to other new businesses.
If you could give one tip to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Hold your nerve! As you grow you need to set yourself ambitious goals. That approach may not work for everyone, but I found that setting myself stretch targets motivated me to achieve them.