YourBusinessWithJamesCaan2016 - 18

Do you still get as excited about
new businesses as you used to?
I am more passionate about running
Hamilton Bradshaw (James' headhunting and recruitment company) than
I have ever been. I have enjoyed ten
years of success as the business has
matured, and in that time you get the
model right, each year you add more
people, you learn from mistakes and it
becomes more interesting. I'm very
hands-on and work most weekends.
You realised you were a success
when you paid a restaurant bill
without looking at the amount.
Did that change things for you?
All entrepreneurs strive for financial
security but it's all relative. When you
get to a position in life where everything
is not based on the next pay cheque it
gives you a sense of stability and security
as well as satisfaction. That security is
very important for me. Most people start
a business because they want to provide
for their family and have financial
freedom. Once you get to that position it
gives you a sense of achievement and
allows you to build a business without
having to worry about the basics. My
mortgage is paid, I can cover my costs
and once you get to that position you
have a different frame of mind, whereas
before you are looking at making money
to cover the bills, you go into a different
way of working because you can
concentrate on growing the business.
What do you spend your money on?
I invest in businesses and people. The
success I have created has allowed me to
invest in others, enabling them to
replicate my success. If I hadn't sold
Alexander Mann (his first recruitment
company) I wouldn't have had the
capital to invest in start-ups. What
excites me is watching others flourish -
being part of their journey gives me
enormous pleasure.
What's the secret behind running
a successful business?
Focusing on the detail. Too many
entrepreneurs quickly start taking
helicopter-views and are not involved in
the detail. I used to watch Stuart Rose
when he was at M&S and every time he
gave an interview he'd be on the shop

18

Seeing other people
flourish gives me
enormous pleasure

His new project is an
online training resource
for recruitment

floor. It gave a message that he was in
touch with the business, the staff and
customers. I never to take my eye off the
ball or assume it will be OK. Markets
change so quickly and if you don't pay
attention to detail and are not close to
the people you can miss significant
opportunities. Even if you get big, there's
no room for complacency.
Kodak (world's leading camera film
company that went bankrupt in 2012)
became complacent because they didn't
listen to the market - proving that even
a giant company can collapse.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Investing in businesses I didn't
understand. Too many entrepreneurs
succeed in one business and assume that
formula can apply to any sector. I started
believing in my own publicity. I failed at

several businesses including nursing
homes, health clubs and technology, all
of which I knew very little about and so
made bad decisions.
That's the greatest source of learning,
it's made me understand my strengths
and weaknesses. You always learn more
from your mistakes than your successes
but too many people are afraid to take
risks which means they aren't developing.
What is your biggest success?
Alexander Mann is by far the one that
gave me the greatest pleasure and
satisfaction. I started it from nothing
from a broom cupboard with a desk, a
chair and no windows and today it is
really successful and employs thousands.
It has truly become a global brand. I look
back with pride because I created the
name and despite selling it, it goes from



YourBusinessWithJamesCaan2016

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