A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be your own boss. The answer is there are pro’s and con’s and they are fairly evenly balanced. I haven’t had a boss since 2007, I was fortunate that during my pre-Ronin career I worked for some very good people, the best was my final Director Steve Garner. Steve challenged me in a very Socratic way, he asked the questions that I hadn’t thought of. I am sure he didn’t always know the answers and would be the first to admit it. As I began to understand his approach I started to anticipate what he may ask in our next meeting. Sometimes I would predict questions which were not asked but considering the question was nevertheless an asset to me, I was challenging myself beyond my comfort level. I still do this today but miss the feedback and satisfaction of delivering on someone else’s direction. I also miss having a peer group. Running a team or being an individual recruiter puts you in league tables, I have had times in my career at the top of these tables and other times when I was going backwards but I miss the clarity of where I stand compared to others.
What is great about owning your own business is that you have freedom to be creative, our brand has been built without boundaries and with a fairly open budget. The brand, the delivery vehicle and culture at Ronin are strongly aligned and we have never had to pretend to be something we are not in order to win business. I am proud of this and do not miss the boundaries set within a larger organisation.
Many people who set up businesses are searching for financial freedom. Being a business owner is hard graft. You have to have self-discipline and be prepared to make sacrifices. I have a paper weight on my desk which says ‘The Buck Stops Here’ for both myself and Andrew Collins this is very true. I think we both feel this more with the failures than the successes. So often we push praise onto others or thank our luck for the successes that the business achieves. When things don’t go well it’s the mirror that we look to. Andrew is a rock to both myself and the business. I have often said when hiring you have to consider whether you would want to be fighting alongside someone in the trenches or the jungle. This is a hard thing to know at interview stage. Andrew is the guy that you would always want by your side in a crisis. He is also the person you want by your side when celebrating so I have been very fortunate to have had such an ally for the past 6 years. The thing that pleases me the most about Ronin is that this same quality now exists in all of our team. It’s the one common character in a group of people whose personalities and styles vary. This is what makes us strong today. The biggest success that Ronin has had has been to assemble our current team. It’s what makes going to work a pleasure and why I believe the next ten years will dwarf the first ten in terms of financial achievement.
So financial freedom? Am I close to it? Nowhere near. Every time we have had strong periods of sales we have used the proceeds to make major investments back into the business. We have treated it like a child, and it has grown into something far stronger every year. Andrew and I have earned similar incomes to that of our past colleagues who have stayed employed, but that’s fine by us. We are building a business that is strong from the foundations up. We have never borrowed a penny since the initial start-up loan which was paid back to my Father during the first year of trading. Ronin stands on its own feet and that to me is a success. We have turned down several good offers to sell the business in the past few years because we believe in it and we enjoy going to work, being with our team and frankly, neither of us would wish to work anywhere else.
Before I finish I need to say a big thank you to everyone who has been loyal and supportive to us. The procurement and supply chain community, our suppliers, past and present employees and most importantly our families. I don’t want this to become an Oscar acceptance speech as a birthday is no more than a mark of survival, but all of these people have helped us survive and for that I am very grateful.
We are going to make the next ten days special so please watch out for the social media releases each day, there are ten prize giveaways connected to the activities for you to win. We also have a nice feature mapping out milestones from the past ten years that you can view by visiting www.ronin-ltd.com
Thank you for reading.
Before setting up shop with Ronin in 2007, Mark spent seven years working for large, corporate recruitment agencies. And it was this that inspired him to create a new prototype for his industry, free to adapt to the changing world. “The industry was already changing at a rate of knots before Ronin came into being.”