We are excited to announce the release of our latest episode of Coffee Morning, in honour of National Small Business Week (NSBW). Although NSBW is primarily celebrated in the United States, we strongly believe that the essence of this event is worth celebrating globally. It’s a perfect time to acknowledge the vital role small businesses play in driving economic growth, innovation, and job creation. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and their contributions are crucial in building a more inclusive and prosperous business landscape.
As per a report published by Gov.uk, there were 5.5 million SMEs in the UK at the start of 2022, accounting for over 99.9% of all businesses. SMEs play a vital role in the economy, contributing 51% of all private sector turnover and 61% of all private sector employment in the UK. It is important to show appreciation to entrepreneurs hustling day in and day out to realise their dreams while bettering their community. As a SME ourselves, we take immense pride in understanding the impact of our actions on the greater development of the economy, and we remain committed to fulfilling our dream while contributing to the growth and prosperity of our community.
In this episode of Coffee Mornings, hosted by Robbie, we celebrate our inspiring story – ‘The Northreach journey’, which has grown from a start-up to an SME in just eight years. Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Northreach, hosts this episode featuring the dynamic duo of Sam Ingram and Ben Ingram, brothers, and founders of Northreach, as they share their experiences and journey towards building a successful business.
NOTE: If you prefer to watch the episode, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Part 1: The Origins of Northreach
The story of Northreach is not just a tale of hard work and dedication, but also one of inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit that dates to the early teenage years of its founders, Sam, and Ben. Their father, who owned a printing company called Northreach Paper, played a significant role in inspiring the brothers’ entrepreneurial mindset, which eventually led to the birth of Northreach in 2015.
Northreach was founded with the goal of creating a recruitment agency that could provide real opportunities and expertise to professionals in the UK. Sam and Ben saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the market by building long-term relationships with clients and candidates, rather than just filling vacancies. With an entrepreneurial flair inherited from their father’s solopreneur spirit, the duo founded Northreach in Sam’s small home office. From selling sim cards to sweets at school to delivering exceptional recruitment services today, Sam and Ben always knew they were destined to be their own masters and had the courage to take the necessary risks to realise their dreams.
The origin of the name “Northreach” can be traced back to their father’s former business, “Northreach Paper.”
“Think that was it like it just felt right. Because my dad literally had Northreach Paper UK in the 80s and 90s and that was a very successful paper company that he sold. I don’t think he kept the name, but it was always like that was his baby, ultimately before he retired. And we thought actually well there’s not really another name that means anymore to us.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach
Over the years, Northreach’s logo has undergone a transformation, but its original version was an upward arrow/compass pointing upwards, representing progress, and accompanied by the tagline ‘a secure future’. Even though the logo has changed with the growth of the business, the arrow remains a vital element of the design, and the message it conveyed continues to be the foundation of the business.
“So, we had Northreach with the kind of the original look up there just the compass pointing up because that logo was an old school kind of compass. So, we wanted to bring something like a 21st-century compass. It’s almost like an Apple iPhone-type compass that you see on your location settings or something like that. We had a strapline that was ‘a secure future’, that served two purposes – cyber security, a secure future. We’re supporting these organisations to have more robust IT security and cyber security, but also, we’re securing people’s jobs. “– Ben Ingram, MD of Northreach
The diverse backgrounds and experiences of Northreach’s founders played a significant role in shaping the company’s direction. Sam’s IT recruitment experience and Ben’s expertise in risk management and compliance regulation led to the development of a business plan and strategy. While initially focused on cybersecurity, the brothers quickly adapted to clients’ needs, expanding offerings to digital and Life Sciences with the addition of Phil to the team. Today, Northreach offers niche talent management services in digital, bio, and embedded domains. The company’s ability to learn from setbacks and adapt quickly has been instrumental in its growth, as Ben emphasises, “It’s not about avoiding failure; it’s about learning from it.”
Northreach’s journey is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and vision. The founders’ entrepreneurial spirit, inspired by their father, has shaped the company’s direction, and set it on a path to success.
Part 2: The key to Northreach’s success
One of the key growth strategies that worked for Northreach was building a strong team and company culture. Both Sam & Ben wanted to create a culture that they would want to work in. They wanted to create an environment that people would want to be a part of. Sam and Ben firmly believe that their team has been instrumental in realising their dreams and taking Northreach to where it stands today. They acknowledge the immense contribution of their team members and credit them for the success and growth of the company. But they have had to learn to let go – which they discussed when asked about adaptability and their personal transition to becoming a founder and leader.
“But I think that letting go piece was tough because it was survival when it was almost like, well if this doesn’t work, I generally must get a job. I think that has been my fear for the past few years, I suppose. I’m 37 this year and I think I got to a point where I was like I just need to trust and trust that things can be done differently in a different way. And that’s fine. So, I think that letting go piece was a big deal. And that’s led me to work on more strategic things and that is where I really wanted to be anyway. Building a team that is functioning, that people turn around and go these people I’m working with at Northreach are brilliant and that to me means more than doing deals myself nowadays anyways.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach
“I think because we have built it from the ground up from our own blood, sweat and own savings – We had no springboard, we had no bank loans or investors sitting behind us. So, it was very difficult to let go because ultimately the buck doesn’t fall any further than on us. It’s our name above the door and our reputation is at stake at the end of the day. But then you eventually come to the realisation that the people that we’ve hired, are bloody talented people, they’re highly skilled people. Some are a lot better than us in certain things, we hire people because they want to help build the business and ultimately elevate us to another level, right? So, you must trust them. I probably get more fulfillment now and I think what motivates me now is kind of seeing other people do well and creating that kind of platform and that environment for people to create their own success.” – Ben Ingram, MD of Northreach
During the Coffee Morning episode, Sam and Ben highlighted the importance of being adaptable and flexible in the face of change. According to them, it wasn’t always easy to let go of old notions and ways of working. For instance, they had to discard the traditional idea of having to wear a suit to work and embrace a more casual and comfortable attire. They also had to dismiss the notion of remote or hybrid work, which was considered unconventional in the recruitment industry.
Sam and Ben shared their journey of adapting to changing work culture and breaking free from traditional work practices. They believed that a modern approach to work is the key to success in today’s world. They shared their experiences and challenges and how they overcame them to build a successful business. Listening to their stories about adapting to change is worth the time, as it provides valuable insights into the challenges that businesses face in today’s fast-changing world. In addition to building a strong team and culture, effective marketing strategies helped Northreach grow. They learned from setbacks and overcame them to shape the company’s direction.
Over the years, Northreach celebrated several milestones, including team growth, finding its niche and structuring workflow, moving to bigger office space, growing its global client base, and increasing the number of placements. These achievements have had a significant impact on the company’s growth, and their story is an inspiration for all budding entrepreneurs.
Part 3: The Northreach Difference
As a company, Northreach has always been committed to values such as honesty, transparency, equality, integrity, and trust. These values are deeply ingrained in our daily operations and form the foundation of our brand identity. We strive to create a competitive edge through personalisation, transparency, our team, and our processes. At Northreach, we take pride in our ability to build strong relationships with our clients and candidates, and we are always looking for ways to improve and optimise our services.
In a nutshell, our Northreach difference lies in our ability to deliver exceptional client and candidate experiences.
As Ben puts it, “we are big enough to deliver any job, and small enough to care.”
We take pride in our ability to adapt to market changes and embrace innovation, which has helped us optimise returns and overcome challenges. Over the years, our ability to deliver high-quality services has helped us build a loyal client base, and our team has been instrumental in realising our dreams and taking Northreach to where it stands today. We acknowledge the immense contribution of our team members and credit them for the success and growth of the company.
Over the years, we have been committed to giving back to our community through various social initiatives and philanthropic activities. Our annual #gifts4kids campaign during Christmas and support for Surfers Against Sewage are just a few examples of our CSR efforts that align with our mission and values of building a better community. By partnering with local charities, organising fundraising events, and sponsoring community projects, we strive to make a positive impact in the areas we serve.
In conclusion, our story is a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. We have come a long way since our humble beginnings, and we are excited about the road ahead. Our focus on delivering exceptional client and candidate experiences and our commitment to values such as honesty, transparency, and integrity will continue to guide us in our journey towards achieving our long-term goals.
Part 4: The Road Ahead
As the conversation ended, the trio discussed the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Northreach. Ben talked about how the increasing cost of doing business and economic instability pose significant challenges for SMEs. He emphasised the importance of relationship-building in such times.
So, where do we go from here? Now, that’s been the big question I’ve been asking myself. So, what am I doing? I think it’s about just looking a bit at long-term goals. I think really, we’ve always planned it year on year and said that this is what we’re doing, but it should be more like this is where we’re heading, and this is the ultimate goal. For us, we still need to go international, we need to hire more individuals in that bio and digital kind of space. We still need to invest more operationally in terms of how we get our marketing strategy right, which we’re doing. I think really even from a finance perspective we go right, we are making more revenue as a business, but how can we you invest that more appropriately and how do we ensure that our targets are right, I think they’re the things that we need to work on a little bit more as we kind of go ahead and actually I think just give everyone a lot more clarity. What’s the long-term goal? What’s the reason I should stay around? Ultimately giving everyone that works here a bit more of a purpose. – Sam Ingram , CEO of Northreach
The end goal for both Sam and Ben is to revolutionise the recruitment industry by combining technology and exceptional customer service to enhance the way people work. Their priority is to improve the work environment for their employees, candidates, and clients.
Key takeaways for budding entrepreneurs from our inspiring story:
- Focus on building long-term relationships with clients and candidates.
- Build a strong team and company culture that aligns with your values and principles.
- Be adaptable and flexible in the face of change and embrace a modern approach to work.
- Learn from setbacks and use them to make your business better.
- Celebrate milestones and use them as motivation to continue growing and achieving your goals.
- Stay committed to your mission and values and give back to the community through social initiatives and philanthropic activities.
- Plan and set long-term goals for your business, while also being open to exploring new markets and service offerings.
- Leverage technology and innovation to optimise returns and deliver exceptional customer service.
In conclusion, Northreach’s story shows that with hard work, perseverance, and a strong team, it is possible to build a successful business. These key takeaways can serve as valuable lessons for budding entrepreneurs in building a thriving business. We extend our gratitude to Sam and Ben for sharing their journey and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.
Don’t miss out on this fun, heart-warming, and insightful episode! Watch the full episode now to unravel the valuable insights.
We strongly believe that the lessons learned from our story will inspire and motivate small business owners to pursue their dreams with passion and commitment. Our experiences and lessons shared serve as a source of encouragement to those striving to achieve their goals. As we all know, a lasting business is built on a strong team. We can help you lay the foundation for success by sourcing top talents that will help you realise your dream bit by bit. So,if you would like to learn more about our journey or connect with our team, we invite you to get in touch with us today. Let’s embark on a great journey together and build something amazing.