Last month, Work Extraordinary sponsored the Professional Services category in the Start Up awards. The winner was Situu, a commercial property start-up that specialises in office rentals. Its core business is helping landlords let office space and the company has ripped up the rule book when it comes to letting office space, with Situu’s fully managed offices. Situu works with landlords to transform the way in which they would typically offer their traditional leased spaces. No longer is it just a case of throwing a tenant a set of keys and over to them. With Situu, the whole office is set up for the tenant so they can just move in and start working.
Harry is one of our panellists in a Start Ups webinar that Work Extraordinary is hosting and we spoke to him about some of Situu’s growth challenges since the business started three years ago ahead of the online session.
Harry said: “We were lucky and were profitable from early doors. It meant that myself and the other three founders had to wear every hat. This is the case with most start-ups and the first major challenge was the next step on from this. Which roles needed to be recruited for first? Sales, HR, PR… one of the earliest decisions was working out which of these roles were the most critical element of the business. And then actioning a plan for recruitment that would dovetail into other parts of the business strategy.
Hand in hand with scaling the business came the next challenge. Letting go of responsibility and delegation. To allow the business to scale, you need to have the confidence of hiring the right people so they can take on the day-to-day projects but not to the extent that clients think you no longer care.
When asked how he manages to lead so many diverse businesses to success, Richard Branson says: “I surround myself with people who have knowledge and talents in areas where I might not be so well versed.”
And this is something that Harry’s business also demonstrates. He adds: “All four founders have different specialisms. As we have come together as one business, we have tried to appreciate the different skillsets we have – and how our approaches work together. Two of the founding team worked for landlords and two worked in the serviced office area. We’re all confident and respectful of each other and other team members as we have grown. But trust and communication are key.”
Harry notes that when the business had just started and cashflow had to be watched, all the founders were involved in decision making - especially financial decisions where each of them made a point of getting approval from the other founders. As Situu has grown, it is more agile with is daily decision making. However, Harry points out they do have more meetings – at least twice a week. He adds: “We have board meetings every couple of months. We knew each other well beforehand but this communication, respect and trust in other people making decisions is what makes our collaborative approach – and work culture – work. We also did a session at the start of setting up the business where we focused on the aims of the business, what sort of culture we wanted, our brand. We are very analytical in our board meetings and look at every part of the business to ensure that the day to day sits alongside these initial brand values and business mission of ensuring terrific customer service. We also celebrate the different approaches to problem solving that we have, which also makes working and growing the business fresh and fun!”
A few years in and one of the biggest lessons Situu has learned is to be more analytical with its interview process. Harry comments: “Our business is like a mini family and so getting the right team members in place is probably more important now that it was when we started. We have completely rethought our interview process and now take more time vetting candidates. We also have several interview rounds – the first interview with two directors, a second interview with more of the team. We also then ensure a ‘meet the team’ session where some of the staff go to the pub or for lunch. We then ask the team for feedback, and it is on the back of this that we make the decision on whether to hire the person or not.”
Barry McNeill, Organisation and leadership specialist and founder of Work Extraordinary is hosting a webinar at 11am on the 20th of October. We will be talking about the risk of growing your business at the risk of losing sight of your customers’ needs.
We will be joined by three business owners including Harry and all at different stages of growth - who will be sharing info on their journeys to date and offering advice on overcoming the challenges they have faced.
Other speakers are Joel Dalton, Co-founder of Clone Media and Juan Andrade, founder of Rebank. The session is free to attend and is 45 mins. There will be a Q&A session and you can book your place by registering at this link.
We hope to see you there!
Ask a question, book a programme, or arrange a free consultation.