Fareham: Source Solutions grows through business mentoring

When two recruitment consultants left their company to set up on their own in a £39 billion industry, it was a case of “eyes wide shut”.

Fast-forward four years, Source Solutions’ Tom James and Simon Horspool, both in their early 30s, have survived the perilous beginnings – 60% of start-ups reportedly go under within 36 months.

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L-R: Simon Horspool, Monika Dabrowska and Tom James

The firm, which provides recruitment solutions in IT and engineering, moved into Fareham Innovation Centre, which overlooks Solent Airport near Gosport, 18 months ago.

Fed up with working from their kitchen tables at home, the co-founders scouted for serviced office space and plumped for Fareham Innovation Centre because of the supportive ecosystem, which includes complimentary in-house business support and is home to 61 companies.

Source Solutions, which had originally used the centre as a virtual office for post and meetings, is now on track to develop revenue streams after mentoring by Monika Dabrowska, the centre’s innovation director, through bespoke strategy workshops.

Dabrowska helps entrepreneurs with one-to-one mentoring, workshops, seminars, programmes, funding and, with the universities of Southampton, Solent and Portsmouth, internships; there are also apprenticeships through Fareham College.

James, from Portsmouth, said: “Simon and I set up the business with an old mindset of hitting targets, working on that dyed-in-the-wool basis. It was very much an eyes-wide-shut approach, and the first few years were tough. That changed when we moved into a two-desk office – our eyes were opened by how the centre actively helps occupiers improve operations and hone long-term goals.

“Delivering results efficiently for our clients and candidates is essential but Monika made us look beyond that, taking steps back to work on the business rather than in the business. Not only have we raised our strategic game, thanks to weekly set tasks, but we have also accessed grants for new IT equipment and a future website rebrand, worth thousands of pounds. Monika led us through the whole process.”

James added: “If you’ve never run a business, don’t leave it to chance thinking you’ll strike lucky – the best thing you can do is get professional mentoring. We have reaped the benefits from the centre’s in-house business coaching, from structure to objectives, with the brand emphasis on quality over quantity.

“Our ambition is to not only become an employer of choice within the recruitment industry but also to be recognised by our clients as a valued service provider within our chosen markets, for temporary/contract placement and permanent placements in IT and engineering, including oil and gas.”

Dabrowska said: “Source Solutions is a successful consultancy which is planning its future rather than falling into the trap of taking each day as it comes. It has been pleasing to see Tom and Simon deliver on external goals and share their experiences with other occupiers of similar sizes at the centre.

“The UK recruitment industry, which recorded a £39b annual turnover before 2020, currently faces headwinds due to the pandemic but the vaccine roll-out may well increase market confidence and activity. Prior to the national emergency, there were 31,140 recruitment enterprises in the UK – Source Solutions is well placed for competitive advantage.”

Fareham Innovation Centre is run by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading operator of innovation, on behalf of Fareham Borough Council, the building’s owner.

There are 55 serviced offices, 20 workshops and a range of meeting rooms and conference facilities.