Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 150
A guiding hand
These entrepreneurs have taken the recruitment world
by storm with a little help from James Caan
RICHARD WATERSON, 35, AND STEPHEN MACDOWELL, 33
RUN IT RECRUITMENT SPECIALISTS HAYWARD HAWK IN BELFAST
and Stephen, right,
with James Caan
trying to get websites set up and lease
office space in a market where everyone
knows everyone. It was a bit cloak-anddagger at times - but it was interesting!
What's the biggest lesson you
Stephen: The importance of
communication. We see each other
70-80 hours a week and talk more than
that outside of work - much to our
wives' annoyance - but it's vital. Every
decision we make impacts the business.
We've learned to delegate, too!
Was there a moment when you
decided to set up your business?
Richard: Stephen and I had worked
together for seven years. We'd talked
about it for a year, then one day over
lunch it was a case of "Let's do it now
or let's stop talking about it."
What characteristics do you
feel make your business
partnership a successful one?
Richard: We have the same mindset
when it comes to how things should be
run, but Stephen's the organised one.
Stephen: Definitely! Richard is calm
and level-headed. We're well balanced.
He's technical, I'm operational. When
we see clients, we offer a broader range
of our combined skills.
What was your connection with
Stephen: A business acquaintance of
ours had met James and said an hour
with him was worth its weight in gold.
After a meeting in Belfast with one of
James's investment providers, we went
to London. I remember James said we
were coming to the Dragons' Den!
What were your initial impressions
of James Caan?
Richard: We left the first meeting
100% sure we wanted James as our
investor. His company Recruitment
Entrepreneur specialises in investing
in early to mid-size recruitment
companies, so it was perfect for us.
And having the backing of someone
as well known as James gave us a bit
of separation from the competition.
We weren't expecting an awful lot of
ongoing input, but he has been fantastic
- we have a monthly Skype chat and
meet in London every other month.
Once, the London meeting was changed
at short notice to Monaco - and we
were more than happy to oblige!
James is very hands-on. He knows
pretty much everything that's going
on in our business. He's emotionally
involved too - he knows the names of
all the staff we've hired.
Did you encounter any problems
setting up the business?
Stephen: The main problem was
balancing the jobs we still had. We
had to meet in dark corners! We were
What about James's best advice?
Stephen: That we're not competing
against each other or our employees. If
the office manager is better at finance
than you, let them do the finance. Don't
be proud - it's still your business.
What's your greatest achievement?
Richard: We're now the biggest
specialist IT recruitment agency in
Northern Ireland and are spoken about
in the market as a leading light.
Were your projections realistic?
Stephen: Our turnover in our first year
was just shy of £1m, which was way
ahead of our projections.
Where do you see Hayward
Hawk in five years?
Richard: Our target is to be the biggest
recruitment agency in Ireland. We've
made inroads into the Republic of
Ireland, and hope to establish an office
in Dublin. We also want to move into
other specialisms - accountancy and
finance, engineering and legal.
Do you have any advice to
someone starting a business?
Stephen: Find someone like James
who knows the industry, wants to be
hands-on and can bring more than just
investment in the monetary sense.
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