The South-West is awash with small business innovation and creativity, and when out and about at meetings, networking events, or on the school run, I am constantly bumping into inspirational people with a story to tell.
Every month, I will be speaking to a small business innovator about what they do, what inspired them to set up their business, their highs and lows, and their future plans.
First up is Kristal McNamara, Director at Flexology – an innovative Bristol based recruitment firm that is dedicated to improving flexible work opportunities across the region:
Tell me a bit about Flexology and what you do?
“The benefits of flexible working are compelling and there are now evidenced links to improved business and financial performance. Despite this, only 1 in 10 advertised roles are flexible, and a large and growing talent pool is being overlooked… we founded Flexology to bridge this gap.
“Both myself and my co-founder Shelley come from a business and financial background, having had personal experience of managing, recruiting, and developing large teams. This makes us better able to understand the challenges faced by hiring managers than traditional recruitment businesses. We believe that by being solely focused on flexible work, we can significantly increase opportunities for candidates in the South West, as well as deliver unexpected benefits to clients.”
What was the idea behind the business?
“We were both fortunate to be working in senior roles with flexibility (we worked 4 days a week), however we knew that others weren’t so lucky, and flexible working roles at a senior level were seriously lacking.
“The demand from employees for flexible working is on the rise, this isn’t just a women’s issue; millennials are making their way up the career ladder into more senior roles, and want a better work life balance; there is also more parity of childcare responsibilities, and we are seeing growing demand for flexibility for both parents. Also, with an aging population, we are seeing more employees needing time to care for older family members.
“However, a lot of companies are using the same approach to HR and recruitment that they always have. Businesses are missing out on the huge opportunity that flexible working offers – access to skills, improved diversity, improved retention, and better employee well-being to name just a few.”
What has been your business highlight to date?
“We still have to pinch ourselves to realise we have actually left the corporate world and are now running our own business! Our first client coming on board was obviously a massive boost – it was great to know we had a client who backed us and our mission.
“We were also really proud to be accepted into the Entrepreneurial Spark business acceleration programme. Since being in the programme, we have focused on our longer term strategy and goals, and have become part of a group of entrepreneurs who support, challenge and develop each other. We have learnt so much during this process, and will be graduating from the programme at the end of January as a much stronger and more developed business.”
What has been your biggest challenge?
“The hardest thing is always to make the time to focus ‘on’ the business rather than being ‘in’ it – hours pass quickly and the word ‘busy’ is overused! We have put in place a daily ‘huddle’ each morning to focus on the day’s priorities as a team, as well as weekly strategy meetings to focus on the bigger picture and review financials.”
What do you hope to achieve over the next few months?
“We have now been in operation for nearly a year and have had great support from our clients and candidates. Next steps are to continue to grow our business, and provide a great service to our clients and candidates. We’ll also be launching our events that support our candidates in the New Year – the first will focus on job share matching – imagine a fun night of job share speed dating to find your perfect job partner, then being able to apply for full time roles in the local market as a team! We’ll have some really exciting speakers involved too. We’d love people to get in touch if they want to come along, or if they are interested in registering with us for flexible roles.”