Startup Diaries: Adaptability Enables Growth From 4 to 70 Staff in 2 Years
Krissy Charles-Jones explains how being adaptable and evolving her business plan in response to changes in the market enabled her to grow her online training company from 4 to 70 staff in 2 years and her turnover and profit by 600% in the last year. See Krissy’s first Startup Diary entry here.
By the end of summer 2011 Bright Assessing had settled into the Alcester office and 4 new staff members had started. Sales were improving each week and the marketing for the company was really coming together.
Whilst we relied on customers buying our courses my Course Advisors spoke to people every day who wanted to do our courses but couldn’t afford it as they were unemployed. On the flip side we had lots of people who had been unemployed, who trained with us and were getting jobs as Assessors and Trainers. I thought hang on isn’t it the government priority to help these people!? I investigated further and was able to secure several government funding contracts. We launched the Bright Back to Work programme in December 2011 as six week programme, qualifying people to become Assessors and support them into work.
The Bright Back to Work programme was virtually an overnight success. By January I had recruited another 5 new members of staff and expanded the offices.
We were beginning to realise that there wasn’t a great deal of help for people once they had finished their courses; starting out as a newly qualified Assessor can be daunting and success comes from knowing where to look for employment.
I quickly identified an opportunity to set up a specialist recruitment arm of the business and actively work with our learners to help guide them into employment. New Assessor was launched in July 2012; originally designed to be an online site where new assessors, trainers and employers could actively search for job vacancies, New Assessor has now evolved to become a more person facing recruitment service.
We have had our ups and downs and have had to be very proactive, able to adapt and willing to change our business plans according to market forces.
For example, one day we found out that 60 learners we had trained were not even funded as the provider didn’t have the funding in place. Action was taken to challenge the government body (the Skills Funding Agency) to help us, which they did.
Luckily there have been a lot more ups than downs, like being nominated for the National Business Awards and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Other highlights include finding out that the staff had voted us through best companies as “an extraordinary employer”; building the staff team and watching them grow and develop into senior roles; watching our first TV advert like on Boxing day and many, many more.
Bright now employs over 70 staff and has grown turnover and profit by 600% in the last year. We have helped to retrain over 2000 unemployed people and have 200 new learners starting our online courses each month. I have ambitious plans to extend our courses, widen into higher education, extend the back to work programme, grow the recruitment arm and any other exciting opportunity that life throws at us.
I am a great believer in the term “everything happens for a reason” even the bad things.
I now pass on my experience as a mentor to budding entrepreneurs on a voluntary basis, which I plan to continue, and maybe even invest in a few!
The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster ride for Bright Assessing with award evenings, brand new e-learning suites, new courses and battling the mighty SFA - there is so much more left to the Bright story…
Krissy Charles-Jones is the young, innovative entrepreneur behind online training provider, Bright Assessing. The mother of two created Bright Assessing in the wake of personal redundancy. Bright Assessing now train people to become Assessors and Teachers within vocational learning and have helped over 2000 unemployed retrain since December 2011.
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