Many find it challenging to balance both a career and family life, but when you are a mother of a young family with the goal of expanding your business into Africa while simultaneously increasing your local market and financial wellbeing, it sounds like an impossible task. Yet that is precisely what Laura Reynolds – business owner, wife, and mother to three young boys – decided to take on when she resigned from her stable job, at the tender age of 23 and started a recruitment company, The RecruitGroup.
For as long as Reynolds, a Rhodes University Psychology graduate, can remember, she has had a passion for business. It is with this passion that she has managed to achieve what many experienced businessmen and women have not – she has successfully managed and grown a business for nine years. “The company has experienced immense growth and is today one of South Africa’s largest privately-owned recruitment companies,” says Reynolds.
She says that starting her company at such a young age meant only a few people took her seriously, and many expected her to fail. Today the company has a multi-million rand turnover, a staff compliment in excess of 72, and is one of the 36% of recruitment companies that not only survived the recession in the country, but also grew in turnover during that time.
The RecruitGroup has adopted fresh work philosophies that have ensured the success of the company. An example of these philosophies include a flexi-time concept called iTime, which provides her employees with the option of going home once they have achieved what is required for the day – an idea that is aimed at creating higher morale, productivity and a decrease in absenteeism. “We implemented this philosophy to eliminate the daily commute in heavy traffic, promote smarter working strategies, and to put the ball in our employees’ court. We trust and value them and most importantly, believe that they are responsible enough to deliver what is required of them without having to actually sit in the office.”
In 2012 the company did away with commission structures in favour of higher basic salaries – a concept unheard of in the recruitment and sales industry. Since the introduction of this structure, the company’s turnover has doubled, morale has increased and staff retention is at an all-time high, says Reynolds. “Today’s workforce is bright, inquisitive, motivated and is constantly seeking new challenges. Therefore, if you want your company to succeed, it is vital to stay on top of what inspires your staff and to keep these movers and shakers interested.”
Reynolds established TeacHer in 2013 and RecruitGroup Graduate Academy in 2014, initiatives which pay it forward and shares her passion. RecruitGroup Graduate Academy is an equity focused initiative aimed at training graduates in all forms of recruitment and sales while TeacHer is an initiative developed to empower young women through an experiential shadow and mentoring programme. “The aim is to empower, upskill and educate young South Africans and provide a springboard into one of our economy’s most crucial areas, namely job creation.”
The RecruitGroup has won a number of industry awards and accolades throughout the years – a feat that Reynolds accounts to her employees’ passion for service, and the solution-driven, customer-focused services that have ensured that the company secures strong business relationships. “I believe that to survive in this difficult economic climate creativity and innovation are essential.”
Reynolds lists cash-flow, productivity, and attracting and retaining the best talent as one of her greatest challenges to date, and says that she has overcome these challenges by creating unique products and services that retain the company’s earnings and annuity income, and has adapted her management style to suit the different generations working within the company.
She says that although starting the business was rocky, as with all good journeys she had to find her way and forge her own route. Today she looks back and remembers the tears, the stress, and the sheer fear felt in those early days. “I can look back with pride and a sense of achievement that can only be earned by the experience of starting a business.”