Nadeem Ahmad, Templeton Recruitment

Nadeem Ahmad, Templeton Recruitment

Finding a niche and creating its own way of working has been key to the success of recruitment business Templeton Recruitment, which was awarded Export Champion of the Year at the 2021 Growing Business Awards, says Founder Nadeem Ahmad.

What does your business do?

We are an IT recruitment agency which focuses on placing long-term contractors on IT projects around the world. We have found ourselves a unique positioning in the market where we work with huge international clients even though we are a niche agency, which is very unusual.

Why did you decide to start your business?

I was working for a recruitment agency that was focused on the UK market and I felt that I could do something a bit different, by focusing on the international market rather than just the local UK market. I was very well travelled, most of my friends were international, and I just felt that recruitment could be done internationally because we have phones, we have the internet, we have – or had - the European union that allows us to work across borders. So that was the inspiration.

I travelled to the US to do some research and discovered a particular niche area within IT that was a growing market – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). I decided I would focus on this area because not only was it growing, it fitted with my passion for doing global recruitment because this particular niche was required by clients globally.

I came back to London and hired people who were from overseas but living in London, so that they could deliver a proactive British way of doing recruitment with a soft local touch in their own language to their own market. The business now has a turnover of £15 million and employs 35 people.

How did you finance the growth of your business?

I started it with £5000 of my own money and 25 years later that is the only investment we have ever had in the company. I borrowed a laptop from a family member and set up a desk in the attic of the office of another family member to get started. I studied Finance and Accounting at University and that taught me to manage the cash carefully and grow a business with a strong balance sheet.

What has been the most difficult or challenging part of growing your business?

We have had a constant battle with clients who think they should only work with huge recruitment agencies. Their perception is that if they are big, they should only work with big agencies, but we always wanted the huge clients not the small ones. I am delighted to say that we have won that war, and now we have many international clients enjoying the uniqueness of our agile global service.

What key lesson have you learnt about setting up and growing a business?

Always innovate and always reinvent. Over 25 years of going through three recessions we have had to reinvent our approach to business and it has always worked.

What has been the impact of the pandemic on your business and how have you dealt with this?

It has been great from our point of view because IT has been needed even more during the pandemic because people have needed to work from home.

When everyone was panicking about how to run a business through Zoom, I approached the CIO of Zoom and asked him if we could do a joint webinar together about how to handle this new way of working. That also helped to put us on the map.

What has been your biggest mistake?

I think I could have scaled up sooner.

What has been the secret of your success so far?

Ditching the traditional idea of the 360 recruitment consultant who is required to find their own clients and then fill their own vacancies with their own candidates. I never believed that was a good idea. I realised that some people are good at client acquisition, some people are good at client expansion, and some people are good at delivering the candidates. So I have designed the company around having the best people and putting them in a role that plays to their strengths and their preferences, and then surrounding them with people who are complimentary to them. Collectively we come together as a winning team.

What advice would you give an entrepreneur just starting out about how to grow their business?

Too many entrepreneurs try to create something brand new; they want to create the new Facebook, for example. But the reality is that Facebook wasn’t the first company of its kind; it just saw a similar company, Myspace, and did it better. So my advice is to look at the problems that need to be solved in the world, then look at the companies that are trying to solve those problems and see how you could do it better.

What personal quality or characteristic has been most useful to you as an entrepreneur as you grow your business?


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