Our guest today is MARTIN SANDHU, Founder and Owner of NUOM.
Martin, as a start-up founder, what is the biggest challenge you have faced as of day one?
In my experience, it’s about knowing the right areas to invest in and this comes from doing your homework. As a leader, you can’t become complacent because markets can change so quickly. It’s crucial you read around your industry; get to know your competitors, trends and how the market has shifted in the past. Knowing how ‘reliable’ an industry is for example, will serve you well in the future.
As a start-up ourselves in 2009, we experienced the challenges of building the right team as we scaled up. Getting the recruitment right is critical to any business's longevity; it’s about building a team of talented individuals not just for now, but for the future. For tech start-ups, in particular, the war for talent is becoming so much more competitive. So for us, having two world-class universities within arm’s reach is a huge benefit for our continued growth in the local area and beyond.
Can you share growth hacking techniques that helped to boost revenue?
It’s important for you to remain curious and not be disheartened when things don’t go your way. Even projects that you may have failed on can be used to your advantage. Find out where you fell short, and use those learnings to improve processes on your next project. These are brilliant opportunities to learn and develop, and might even help to gain your work with that same client further down the line if they realize you’ve upped your game. The trick is to fail fast and keep iterating your processes.
Was it a challenge to hire people having the right skills?
So many companies today focus only on recruiting for pure talent and calibre of education, overlooking some of the most valuable qualities in any workforce – attitude and character.
We spend on average 45-hours per week at work, making the environment and culture hugely important for not only business success, but also our own wellbeing and enjoyment. Of course, talent is essential to that success, but so many leaders are overlooking these qualities and as such, that talent slips under the radar. In my team, I continue to look for resourcefulness, positive attitudes, humility and honesty.”
Most job seekers avoid early-stage start-ups and prefer more established companies. Was it a challenge hiring your first five employees?
There’s no denying that start-ups are far riskier than working at an established company – and it’s true to say, we too faced this hurdle. We combatted this, however, by selling the benefits of start-up, for example having the chance to be part of something from the very beginning; to see the real roots of a company, its fibre and the people who have worked tirelessly to get it off the ground. Working for any start-up, in any role, often holds a large amount of responsibility and dedication, taking a certain type of person to ride the waves that inevitably come with a new company. These reasons only emphasize the importance of hiring for the ‘right reasons’; hiring for character and attitude, rather than talent.
Having an open, honest relationship with your employees is particularly crucial in these scenarios. Encouraging an environment where you can openly express concerns and areas for improvement will help you navigate any hard times that may arise.
Starting out as a lone freelancer, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be supported by a team. So creating this company and employing people to do the jobs I’d been doing for so long was also a real challenge. Often blood, sweat and tears have gone into the work you have created, and to all of a sudden relinquish some of that power, felt like a culture shock I wasn’t prepared for. But placing trust in those employees, knowing they are supported by a strong and knowledgeable team, made me feel much more secure knowing the future of the company was in good hands.