Happy Birthday to Us!

This week a year ago, Ryan + Alexander recruitment agency was born. We met potential corporate clients, worked our networks to track down top talent to place in great roles, ferreted away on our website copy – and held our breath.

We knew we had the skills, a clear niche and, economically, the timing felt good. But you just never know, do you? In fact, Sydney’s University of Technology reports that one in three businesses fail in their first year. New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says roughly a quarter of all small businesses die within three years. Other reports have varying figures but most agree it takes a blend of tenacity, hard work and luck to make a year in business.

And this certainly wasn’t an easy year. Bernadette lost two much-adored family members in quick succession. First her Mum and then, not long after the launch of Ryan + Alexander, her eldest brother. It took grit and bravery to press on with our fledgling job recruitment business even though Bern was in Christchurch most weeks in her brother’s last months. I was able to carry the load and, of course, there’ll be times when it’s my family that needs me and Bern will take the reins.

Even though we have different specialities, we’ve both worked in each other’s area of recruitment agency expertise. This shared skill set has proved invaluable in juggling our ‘part-time’ hours too. We started Ryan+Alexander determined to pursue work-life balance. We make time for exercising, have walking business meetings, and support each other to attend school plays, sports days or events. I can’t pretend we’ve nailed the work-life balance thing yet but we’re certainly giving it a nudge.

I have three children, including a two-year-old daughter, so I work three days to give me time with her. Bern works most days but generally only school hours so she can spend lots of time with her sons and her elderly father. It’s hard work juggling part-time hours when your employment agency clients and candidates work a full working week. I schedule meetings around my daughter’s naps on my days off, and we both work the phones in the evening. It’s a juggle, but we have also learned to share the load between us. I wouldn’t have wanted to attempt self-employment on my own – I feel like we can be bolder and aim higher because we are a team. And besides, it’s more fun. You should have seen our Christmas party for two!!

We had worked together previously and I knew we would be compatible as co-owners of a fledgling employment agency business. Bernadette was worried our work relationship might one day sour our friendship, but the highs and dreadful lows of the last year have built an even stronger bond between us. We’ve got each other’s back.

Thanks to all who have supported us this past 12 months, in ways big and small. We’re especially grateful to our husbands. They never doubted we could make this work and, even though it meant a fair bit of fiscal uncertainty in the beginning, they supported us to give it a go.

And our recruitment agency success thus far has allowed us to embark on the next phase a bit earlier than we had planned – securing premises in Tauranga and looking for our first team member!

There’s now a lot of competition in the Tauranga recruitment market and we certainly don’t take our early success for granted. We’re proud to have developed a culture of hard work, respect for our clients and candidates, honesty, and integrity. And we are good mates who look out for each other; that’s pretty cool, too.