The Entrepreneur: Logan Naidu, Dartmouth Partners

Young Gun Naidu shares insights on the world of graduate recruitment, the difficulties of parting with employees, and the importance of trust

Founder: Logan Naidu
Company:  Dartmouth Partners
Website: www.dartmouthpartners.com
Description in one line: Recruiting excellence from classroom to boardroom
Previous companies: The Cornell Partnership, Citybutler
Turnover: £4m
12 month target: £7.5m

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We have two component parts to our business –outsourced graduate recruitment, and more experienced senior recruitment.
  • Our classroom to boardroom business model means we work with a range of candidates who are typically in the first 12 years of their career.
  • People are everything in business. We identify elite talent, helping clients recruit rising stars and future leaders.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Getting Dartmouth Partners up and running and helping the team establish what is fast becoming a market leading brand is a huge achievement. But more specifically speaking, realising the classroom to boardroom model is great success for us – and something everyone at Dartmouth Partners is proud to have achieved.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

We don’t really handle numbers on a day-to-day basis, but revenue numbers are obviously important.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We have worked on projects in South Africa, Germany and the Middle East but all from our office in London. In 2015 we aim to launch a New York office and potentially a German office too.

Describe your growth funding path:

Initial funding came from a secured loan and since then we have been self-financed.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Technology isn’t particularly applicable to us, but we’ve upgraded our database and built our own candidate CRM system.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

If we operate in your core sector, and hiring the best people is part of your strategy, we’d like to be the first number you call. If people who deal with us walk away feeling like they’ve just experienced an excellent service, then I’m a happy man.

Within three years, we’d like to have two to three foreign offices, and we will have expanded London to increase the number of sectors we cover. Ideally, we’d have cracked the £10m turnover mark too.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Probably having to part company with under performing employees.

What was your biggest business mistake?

It’s always people! Either poor performers or people who weren’t happy/ didn’t fit, and trying to make it work rather than removing them from the firm. Once out, you can feel everyone else exhale and breathe a sigh of relief.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

It should be as easy to fire someone as it is to hire them.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Not trusting those around them. I’ve been frequently amazed and pleased at just how good some of our staff are.

How will your market look in three years?

Direct hiring methods such as Linkedin have changed the dynamic of the recruitment industry. There will be new up-and-comers that will potentially challenge our industry.

However, the role of recruitment firms is to help run a smooth process and to help onboard a candidate, not just to send CVs and cross their fingers. Anything that involves human interaction, such as hiring, needs someone managing the process.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Get good people around you, quickly. The team is everything.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Fortunately I have cheap tastes, and already own two tennis rackets. What else do you need? I do like a nice red wine though but my palate isn’t sophisticated enough to discern between a £30 bottle or a £100 one.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Learn it on the job but supplement it by reading widely and voraciously.

What would make you a better leader?

Gaining experience through learning from and listening to others. I admire and respect what the rest of the team have to say, and have good external advisers and friends too. All have an opinion on what is right – the skill is trying to work out which is right for you.

Business book:

From Good to Great by Jim Collins. Best verse to root you though – Mark 8.36, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

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