Tell us a bit about your business?
Psylutions is a group of business consulting psychologists. We work with clients to help them select, develop and engage the right people through the use of psychometric testing (e.g. personality testing) and behavioural assessment (e.g. interviews, work sample assessments). We are not recruiters, but partner with internal recruitment teams to select and develop employees.
We work across all levels in an organisation, from graduates and entry level to mid management and executives.
Why did you start up your business?
I started the business in 2005 after having worked in consultancies for many years and I saw a need in the market for a niche business that specialised in graduate assessment. At the time there were only a few big players who were offering grad assessment and I thought there was space for a new player in the market who was small, boutique, run by psychologists, as well as highly flexible and innovative in what we could offer to the market.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
Interestingly, I was very lucky when starting the business. The business formed as a trading name in 2005 and by Feb 2006 we had won our first major client (NAB) to do their grad program. We had to run before we could walk and I think this was the major hurdle. We didn’t know it at the time but we were not prepared to take on such a major client and made a loss in the first year of business.
BUT we maintained that client (to date, still a client) and we grew each year, even surviving the GFC.
Cash flow was also a major hurdle in the beginning and we had to call on family to help out before we got on our feet properly.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
A couple of tips – there is never a good time to take a risk like starting your own business and you can always find reasons not to. BUT, I have found that if you do venture out of your comfort zone you will find out soon enough if you can sink or swim and when your livelihood depends on it, you’d be surprised at what you can achieve to pay the bills.
There are other tips like surround yourself with a supportive network and never be afraid to look at what you can’t do and bring in people who can do that for you (eg bookkeeping).
The main thing is to be passionate about what you do. When you need to pay yourself, you need to believe in what you are doing. That belief will sustain you during the tough times (and there will be plenty of these!)
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
I have worked for myself since September 2003 (contracting first before starting Psylutions) and so only worked in a ‘proper’ job for about 5 years since graduating from Uni. I think I was always destined to work for myself, I am not cut out for ‘working for the man’, I wanted to be ‘the man’.
In the beginning I wanted the flexibility and freedom to do different types of work, set my own hours and pursue other interests (such as study). Now, what drives me is developing skills I never thought I would have such as business development, networking, strategic thinking.
How did you family and friends react?
Friends were supportive and excited for me, my family not so much as they were probably concerned about the financial burden I was taking on (and didn’t help when I had to hit them up for an ‘investment’ in the first year). But overall, I was very lucky to have the support I did, and still do, have.
How has your life changed?
I believe I have grown and developed far more than I ever could if I had continued working for someone else. I am a shy introvert by nature and this has forced me to get out of my shell and develop skills in networking and business building. I have also developed a strong passion to be an authority on my area of expertise and to be seen as such by a wider audience.
In many ways though, starting and managing Psylutions has been the best and worst 7 years of my life. There have been so many ups and downs but overall it’s been quite the adventure!
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
Continued growth year on year, surviving the GFC, and interest in 5 (and counting) parties for buy-outs, mergers, takeovers.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
We want to become the authority in assessment for talent selection and development. We have a Research branch to our organisation as well and each year do a study in a topic of interest to the market. In 2012 we looked at Best Practice vs. In Practice Talent Management and my vision is to continue to build this expertise and be regarded for such.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
The main one is to believe. Be passionate and believe in what you do. If you don’t believe then why would others?
Surround yourself with people who will not let you give up.
Have an exit strategy – know when you need to give in to the challenges and when you need to keep going.
Celebrate every success, small or large. Take time out to take stock of what you have achieved year on year to reinforce this.