Welcome to another new interviewee today – Laura Rennie from Arena HR. Laura told me that she found this series, read one interview and couldn’t stop reading them, which is great to hear, and I’m excited to include her insights. Like many people, Laura went self-employed in a business area she already knew – in fact, as we’ll learn, she’d been providing free advice for some time before she realised it was time to go solo. Laura’s got an event happening this week – do pop over to have a look.
Hello Laura, and welcome to Libro Towers. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Arena HR. I have worked for charities, private and public sector organisations but what I was finding was that I was providing advice to friends, people who knew my friends and family that needed help personally or within their business and showing them how to create a positive working environment. Now I do this through the movement of #doingHRright – our first Scottish Conference for DisruptHR takes place next week. People are keen to find the right way to get the best for their staff and do the best for them. I finally Incorporated in February 2016.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
After experiencing HR done wrong, I realised that it was more common than I thought. Businesses out there need to be supported and understand how to do HR right.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
20+ years of HR experience AND lots of successes behind me, I realised I could offer a service that people needed, not just in the corporate environment.
Had you run your own business before?
Nope, hence the reason why I provided the service for so long without charging anyone.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I came up with the concept in January 2016, by the end of the month I had my first client so incorporated the following month. Six months later I was handing in my notice and becoming a full-time business owner.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Don’t feel you have to work every single day and night. Learn when you work best and take breaks with family and friends without feeling guilty.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Move into digital practices quicker. They might be scary but they will save you so much time later on!!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
This is tricky because every failure has been a great learning experience. Our first employee lasted two weeks and then we had to dismiss them. Not a great advert for an HR company but it just wasn’t the right fit. My gut knew. I should have listened better.
What are you glad you did?
I made a few rules that I stick by every day, no matter what.
What’s your top business tip?
Go with your gut. That’s your experience and knowledge all coming together shouting at your brain and heart. Listen.
How has it gone since you started?
It’s grown so quickly. In one specific month our turnover increased by 300% – now we are recruiting our next team members and up for a major award.
Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We’ve grown and diversified – and we have created and produced an interactive App which will be available in app stores soon.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Opening our next office to service our London clients!!
I completely agree with Laura’s tip about not working constantly, and I also like that she has learned from her mistakes. A gut reaction is indeed a mixture of experience and knowledge and very well worth listening to, too. Good luck with the event, Laura, and we’ll look forward to hearing how the office and new App are going next time!
You can find Arena HR and Laura Rennie at www.arenahr.co.uk
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.