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Maintaining a strong business model through two economic crises

Maintaining a strong business model through two economic crises
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Maintaining a strong business model through two economic crises
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Keeping a business going through lockdown sounds like challenge enough, but for our Milton Keynes Business Centre customer, Aspire Personnel, starting a business during the fallout of the banking crisis has made them well equipped for powering through the brunt of the coronavirus crisis.

Beginning business during the banking crisis and austerity

Aspire Personnel , a boutique recruitment agency, began in 2010, when director, Sue Turney , decided to quit her independent agency job and branched out on her own. “I decided to take the bull by the horns and started Aspire Personnel,” she commented. “I knew if I could keep my head above water in the recession, then I would be fine afterwards – but it was nerve wracking!”

Starting the business was extremely challenging for Sue at first, as she admits spreading herself very thin at the beginning, attracting clients and networking at the same time. She recruited another consultant soon afterwards, moving to Milton Keynes Business Centre within two years.  “The great thing about the Milton Keynes Business Centre is the friendly staff who introduce us to other companies; networking is a big plus here,” comments Sue, praising the opportunity to network from her desk at Capital Space.

Her success from her serviced office at Milton Keynes Business Centre enabled Sue to expand Aspire Personnel’s services to commercial office recruitment – permanent, contract and temporary – with clients ranging from SMEs to larger corporations, working with many different industries.

Strengthening the business through the coronavirus crisis

At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Aspire Personnel had to overcome considerable obstacles: “It has had a massive impact, as with all other businesses. Many of our temps were pulled within the first four days of lockdown, as clients shut their offices to work from home.”

Whilst helping her clients, Sue was also faced with adjusting to working from home herself and turning her hand to every aspect of the business while her staff were furloughed – but she says there have been positives in this: “It has allowed me to see how changes can help us to work ‘smarter not harder’ to achieve the same end result.”

As well as working through new management methods, Sue has experienced other challenges during this time, like having to think outside of the box to find new recruitment opportunities: “I’ve gained more experience networking with other companies and speaking with clients who have been able to provide us with leads. We’ve also been collaborating with other recruitment agencies to help with some roles that are more difficult to fill.”

By working with others to achieve better outcomes, Aspire Personnel has built up an even better client base and worked towards building great relationships for future recruitment.

Emerging from lockdown: getting back to the office

After working remotely for ten weeks, Sue is now back in the office at Milton Keynes Business Centre .

“Although I realise, like a lot of companies, that we can work from home remotely, I am pleased to be back in a professional office environment,” comments Sue. “It’s good to see many of the other businesses based in the centre coming back in now.”

Learning from lockdown: aspiring to specialise in key areas

As is the case for many business owners in this time of reflection, Sue has evaluated Aspire Personnel’s strategy going forward. “Over the past few years recruitment has changed – especially the way clients work with agencies. Aspire has always been a generalist agency, but now clients are doing more of their own recruiting with the exception of the more specialist, technical or harder to fill roles.”

By reviewing the last two years to look at the roles Aspire has filled, it became apparent that Aspire’s greatest successes have been finance, HR, insurance and sales: “Moving out of lockdown these are the areas that Aspire will specialise in, although we will always be happy work on generalist roles is the clients ask us to.”

After a tough 12 months caused by the unpredictability of Brexit and a subsequently challenging period during the coronavirus crisis – on top of launching in the economic tsunami following the banking crisis of 2008 – Sue has had her fair share of steering a small business through uncertain times. Despite these obstacles, she has managed to expand Aspire Personnel beyond Milton Keynes, and her team now recruits across the entire UK.


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could benefit your growing business,
call 0800 107 3667