Movers and Shakers | Farida Gibbs | CEO Gibbs S3
Describe your business in one paragraph
We are a global IT Staffing, IT Project Solutions, and Technology resourcing business with expertise across Financial Services, Oil & Gas, Consumer Goods and the Pharmaceutical industries
Number of employees: 20
Company location: London, Surrey, Cheshire
Why did you decide to start your company?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business, be my own boss, execute decisions which I felt were the right decision for the business, provide exceptional customer services to clients and to have the freedom to spend time with my daughter (aged nine)
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
My background was business management and HR. I studied at the University of Surrey and planned to go down the HR route and planned to become an HR Business Partner in a corporate environment.
Did you always know that you would become an entrepreneur?
Throughout my teenage years I always imagined running my own business; a shop; a restaurant; a cafe… I would always find myself dreaming about happy customers, imagining what I would do to provide great customer experiences. As I got older I started to realise that running my own business was what I wanted to do.
Tell us about the business planning stage
I searched high and low for business support agencies and left messages but no one ever called me back! I knew I would need to write a business plan so I Googled (good old Google!) business plans and used templates to create one.
To be honest I didn’t spend much time on business planning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do as soon as I realised that I wanted to stay in the Staffing/Workforce markets and really the only business planning in my early days was to find customers!
What are you working on at the moment and can you describe your typical working day?
Right now I’m working on closing two major global customers. One of whom I started talking to in September 2010 and the other customer in December 2011. It can be a LONG process but incredibly rewarding when it turns operational and the focus is on delivery.
I’m also working on delivery strategies for a current customer, who has expanded our remit into new business groups. I’m dead keen to ensure our delivery strategy meets their needs and they get the best service from us. No two days are ever the same and there isn’t a typical working day! I do plan my weeks in advance but they change quickly with travel schedules changing fast, meetings being moved back and forth and deadlines for new proposals to meet.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Without a doubt watching the business grow, hiring wonderful people to help me grow the business and take it to the next level, overcoming challenges, providing resource solutions to customers who think their projects are going to fail but then we step in and turn it around for them. Most of all spending more time with my daughter because I’ve built an entrusted team of professionals who are extremely capable of running the operation if I am not around.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
I never think about anything being hard in business, I would rather say challenges but I thrive on challenges! Running your own business is certainly not easy either. If I had to say something, then I would have to say the long sales process of getting a new customer. You need incredible patience, determination and focus to keep the spirit of the opportunity going.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
My father. He inspires me in so many ways. His zest for life and duty as a father to guide me in times of need. He’s kept me a grounded person. He motivates me to be successful, not just in business, but spiritually too. I think I possess his fighting spirit, to never give up and always have hope.
How do you work on making your business grow?
“Do what you love and the money will come”.. I love that quote. It is so true. To grow your business you have to be passionate about what you do, you have to love waking up in the morning and feel excited about what the day will bring.
I focus on growing the business by making sure I have a strong team in place who continually deliver the needs for our customer base. I make sure that I meet my customers often to ensure they are happy with what we are doing, I make sure that I keep a close eye on the financials on a monthly basis (my finance manager produces a Budget to Revenue statement each month), I tweak the financials as and when it is needed to keep in line with the market and economics, and I sell, sell, sell, sell, sell all day and every day.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learnt as an entrepreneur?
I guess not mixing my emotions with my passion. For example, not getting emotional about matters out of my control. But I’ve learnt this the hard way and I now know how to handle situations I’m faced with if I run into challenges, difficult people etc.
Stay true to yourself and follow your heart. If you honestly believe something is right, then it probably is.
What other passions do you have away from your business?
My daughter, husband and family. I’m a real family girl; I love big family get togethers! I love cooking too, it’s a passion. I love Cyprus and try to get there 2 or 3 times a year for some time out.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own business?
To make sure that whatever it is they are doing to LOVE what they do and have a passion for the business, otherwise it will not go very far. To write a good business plan (not too detailed but enough to paint a good picture), to build a great relationship with their bank manager keeping them abreast of success and wins, be prepared to work long hours, to roll their sleeves up, be able to wear many hats and have fun along the way!