Throughout my career, I was always motivated by wanting to make a bigger difference. The dull moments in my career usually came when I spent a lot of time on programmes and I started to wonder if I could do something bigger – something that is more profound that impacts more people.
Whatever I did in my employment I felt unable to fully fulfil that expectation. I see entrepreneurship as a limitless opportunity. It’s up to me how much I want to scale the business, how much I want others to benefit from it, and it satisfies my aspiration to make a bigger difference in society.
Throughout my career, I was always motivated by wanting to make a bigger difference.
I wanted to create a business that goes beyond recruitment
Working in my contract and commercial management capacity, I had come to realise that all of the intermediaries who provide an association for clients with contractors tend to operate on a very transactional basis. The focus is on the process of recruitment and the maximisation of margins.
However, I always believed that an intermediary between a contractor and a hirer can add a lot of value to the process. I wanted to create a business that goes beyond recruitment and sourcing, to actually helping the client manage all the risks / issues that come with external hiring. These could be simple things like:
(1) Helping client managers who are ‘too busy to hire’ with our 10-min briefing service.
(2) Assisting client managers who are struggling to secure procurement buy-in into a pragmatic contracting route, with the right kind of internal messaging that they can employ.
(3) Building robust contractor-management processes with the client, to mitigate IR35 risks.
We are focused on solving two big problems for our clients
Mindful was formed to help our clients create choices, when options seemed limited. When the best option for our clients is inaccessible, we step in to build a safe way for them to exercise that option.
We do this by mindful consideration of all relevant factors, and craft a solution that creatively deals with the heart of the issue – giving an outcome they feel comfortable to proceed with.
Currently, we are focused on solving two big problems for our clients:
(1) Giving our clients access to on-demand talent for their Digital Transformation programmes navigating complex and risk-laden IR35 legislation.
(2) Creating commercial options for our clients, when the relationship and contractual dynamics with their strategic suppliers have changed for the worse.
I didn’t have any entrepreneurial experience
My early career was in IT development. I worked as a software engineer and then I moved up the ranks to become a Project Manager. 12 years ago I came to the UK to do my MBA and since then I’ve been working in commercial and contracts management.
My experience is largely commercial, procurement and contract management, and I didn’t have any entrepreneurial experience when I started Mindful. I remember learning about entrepreneurship in my MBA and I never thought at that point that I would become an entrepreneur.
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It was more about speaking to people and getting people on board
I would describe myself as a thinker. In my early life, I was always attracted to solving intellectually challenging problems. However, when it came to building up our business I realised it was not so much about intellectually challenging situations; it was more about speaking to people and getting people on board.
It was a big change for me, moving over from something that can be solved on paper to actually working with people. Building a business that is wholly reliant on people working through us was quite a big mental block that I had to overcome.
I certainly had initial doubts, but when you are pushed into a situation you realise that it wasn’t as serious as you were expecting. With time it’s something that I have been able to adjust myself to.
I found it very difficult to convince myself to make my first hire
At first, I found it very difficult to switch off from being the owner of my company. There is this blend between your business and personal life that is not easy to let go of. However, by creating capacity in your activities you can achieve a fair work-life balance.
On the business front, I also found it very difficult to convince myself to make my first hire. It took me 24 months of working in a solo capacity in very stressful times to finally have that realisation that having someone work for me was an obvious thing – and something that I should have done a long time back. Having now made my first hire I’m very glad to have passed that challenge.
It took me 24 months of working in a solo capacity in very stressful times to finally have that realisation that having someone work for me was an obvious thing.
I wanted to hold onto my old career for a very long time
I did find that I wanted to hold onto my old career for a very long time. Initially, I was running the business and working a full-time day job which caused me lots of stress. I have struck a better balance now.
Today, I only work half the week on practising my profession which is contracts and commercial management. This avoids the issue of me missing my old career because I am still doing it – and at this stage, I’m very content with that balance.
The most precious commodity we have is time
In my early career, the idea of making profits and maximising my earnings was always at the forefront of my thinking. However, I’ve now come to realise that the most precious commodity we have is time. I try and create as much time as I can for thinking about the business and also for my family and my personal life. This has been the biggest learning from my entrepreneurial journey.
Looking forward, I believe our business is here to stay. We have gained a lot of experience in providing an IR35 safe MSP arrangement to the public sector and I’d be looking to leverage that experience and expertise onto private sector clients. The opportunities are effectively limitless because the whole of the UK is now affected by IR35.
I can see that any solution we offer is going to be of immense competitive advantage to our clients in attracting the cream of the contractor talent for their digital transformation initiatives. My aspiration is for Mindful is to become a strategic client-side partner to businesses that see the importance of an on-demand talent pool.
Our new Commercial Matters podcast is for leaders of major transformation programmes looking to confidently tackle niggling supplier relationship issues in their IT programmes.
The podcast is hosted by Amit Kapoor who is a commercial consultant on major transformation programmes.
If you are looking to sharpen your commercial mindset, this show is right for you.