With a wealth of experience in banking and recruitment, Claire Welch was an ideal candidate to start her own business.
But some good old-fashioned ‘hand-holding’ was still important to give her the confidence to strike out and realise her business dream.
It was at this point, Claire found support from The Women’s Organisation’s Start-Up and Growth business development programmes via the Local Growth Hub, and two years down the line Claire’s Dobson and Welch office recruitment venture is already exceeding expectations.
Claire had worked in banking for 10 years, and after a further 11 years in recruitment had achieved the role of director and shareholder with her then employer.
But her career took a different turn after meeting Enterprise Enabler; Ali McGrath, from The Women’s Organisation.
Claire explained: “It was never my plan to start up on my own, but after talking to Ali, who explained about setting up in business, I decided to go for it.
“For me, it was a bit of a gamble, but The Women’s Organisation gave me the support and confidence. Without them I would not have known how to set up, because every business I had worked for had been established.”
Claire decided to take the plunge and go it alone in April, 2015, and within two months had begun a business support programme with Senior Business Adviser Francine Taylor.
Their weekly sessions dealt with issues such as, what insurance a new business would need, data protection, and the important step of creating a company website, which is vital to project the right message about what a business stands for and what it can offer potential clients.
“Francine held my hand through the whole process. Even after I had a business plan in place, she gave me advice on financial figures. She would tell me what to do, and today I do it naturally on my own.”
Around this time, and now operating from an office at 54 St James Street, home of The Women’s Organisation’s 54 St James Street headquarters, Claire was asked to tender for a contract with a major client that could be worth up to £200,000.
“Some of the things involved in the tender, I had no idea about, and I was wondering how was I going to do this, but, again, The Women’s Organisation held my hand.”
Dobson Welch won the tender and the contract is a key part of the fledgling business, although Claire adds: “The client is a big part of our turnover, but I know that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
With that in mind Claire embarked on a second programme for growing her business; New Markets 2, with The Women’s Organisation last year.
She explained: “That focused on areas of the business that I had not looked at, like marketing and PR, social media, and my website.
“I wasn’t tweeting enough, or raising the profile of the business enough.
“Now we are looking at digital marketing, which has made a massive difference.”
She said prospects for her recruitment agency are immense: “Things are looking really good going forward.
“I was working from home for six months, and then got an office in 54 St James Street, and we now have five people in Liverpool and one in London.
“We have grown from one person to six people in two years.”
She said this is ahead of schedule in her current three-year business plan.
Two of her staff are consultants she worked with previously: “They have brought a lot of good clients on board.”
She also revealed that during her two years in business, turnover has doubled, and she is already planning further growth: “In the next five years we will maybe have 10 people in Liverpool, and expand the branch in London.
“I love this office, so we will probably take a bigger office in this building,” she added.
And she acknowledged the help and support from The Women’s Organisation which has enabled her to build such a strong foundation for her business: “I would recommend anyone starting a business to follow this course. One million per cent, get in touch with these guys to do it.”
Claire received growth advice through; ‘Women’s Growth Accelerator’ New Markets 2 Programme, which is aimed at women who are running a business focussing on business to business activity in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton) are who are ready to take their business to the next level, expanding their team and signifcantly increasing turnover. For more information, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 0151 706 8111
Insider Media have today reported that Dobson Welch’s turnover has more than TREBLED through the securing of several new clients – Massive congratulations to Claire and the team, and check out the full story here!
And thank you to Clare for this lovely feedback too!