Inspirational Woman: Lucy Chamberlain | Founder, C&C Search

lucy chamberlinI grew up in a very sleepy part of Somerset, one of three children, my dad a Corporate Trainer and my mother, a Psychotherapist. Our parents were not affluent but they made up for it by opening our eyes to our true potential, something I have always been hugely grateful for. I always felt out of place at school and the village we grew up in. From a very early age I was just desperate to get to London. The day after I finished my finals at Uni, I moved to London – no job and no money. I have always been resourceful and threw myself into a career in recruitment. I have never looked back!

I spent 15 years in just two businesses; In the second, I started an area of the business from scratch, and at 28, I was their youngest ever Equity Partner and I was lucky enough to spend 12 fantastic years with them. During this time I built a superb team and led the largest and most successful division. After 12 years I felt I had achieved everything I could with them and was ready for a new challenge. After much soul searching, my brother and I founded C&C Search specialising in appointing support staff and Human Resource professionals.

What inspired you to start the business?

I think there were three key personal factors….

The first being my Daughter – I wanted to show her what we women are truly and independently capable of achieving.

I thought long and hard about the factors that were making me feel that I had lost my edge. I then knew what I really needed from a new venture. This was to create a business where I felt truly aligned and connected with the: ethics, principles, goals and working environment. A business that would make the team feel proud of every single day! Somewhere bursting with productivity, passion and energy. I realised I had no choice but for Ed and I to start the business.

Finally, I wanted the business to offer the ability to create a wider positive value to society. I met with various charities and we chose to partner with Tomorrow’s People. We give 10% of our company profits to their incredible work getting the vulnerable into long term careers. We also help with fundraising activities and are about to start a mentoring programme.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

The greatest challenge is balancing family and work. Starting your own business is like having a newborn – it needs constant care and attention in those critical early years. At the moment the patience of my partner (who is incredibly supportive) gorgeous daughter and soon to become step sons has been crucial.

Did I mention ‘me’ or ‘friends’ time? Nope, there really isn’t any time for that left…….yet!

However, the greatest reward has been watching the business start to blossom, seeing our exceptional team in operation and watching our ethics and values in action daily with our candidates and clients. Also, having a fantastic first year that was successful enough to hand over a large cheque to Tomorrow’s People at The House of Lords. This last year has been one of my hardest but also one of the most fulfilling to date.

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures…

Your work ethic will ultimately determine the success of a business, as well as passion and determination. I give my team 150 percent and expect 100 percent back.

Secondly, it is critical to know who your business is and why your target market needs what you have to offer – this clear message should assist in defining your brand and space in your market. The key to this is to know what your founding principles are and most importantly what sets you aside from others in your space.

A clearly laid out plan of what you are going to achieve in year 1, 2 and three and what the long term goals are. Then comes the tougher part – all the detail outlining what you need to get there.

When it comes to managing failures – I try to plan on a weekly basis for things that may not work as I had hoped for, meaning that I can revert to a plan for handling that eventuality, rather than panic setting in.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?

Finding the right people that reflect what we are as a business and what we deliver. Finding enough hours in the day!

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Yes indeed, both on a personal basis and initially when setting up the business. I sought out a mentor and was very open to advice and being challenged (you need to leave your ego at the door). I had some incredible advice and guidance from a woman who had set up a similar business.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

Networking represents a unique opportunity on a 1:1 basis to share what makes you or your business unique and special. The chance to share knowledge, ideas and seek out opportunities to collaborate.

I plan to take away at least one beneficial connection from every event I attend. 12 months after starting the business I now have an enviable ‘go to’ list for almost anything business related. We have also won business and found incredible candidates as a result. In short you cannot afford not to network at every available opportunity!

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Be bold and be brave, it does involve taking a risk! We have a combination of a clear business plan and organic growth that has happened as a result of the clients we have won (and the subsequent additional team members needed to service this business).

Create a motivated environment that people want to be part of and where they will enjoy coming to work. Recognise and reward those people well and they will naturally help you build the team. We have just reached number 8 and hope to get to number 12 by year end.

What does the future hold for you?

We want to build a business that offers long term careers and equity for our exceptional team; we want to continue to grow our offering and have recently started a new HR specialism – there will be lots more to come! Right now I am enjoying every second of this journey and cannot wait to see where it takes me!

C&C search

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