HR & Management

Uniting fast-growing SMEs with the very best graduates

7 min read

17 August 2012

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. Instant Impact founder Rob Blythe is working on both.

Name:

Rob Blythe

Role and company:

Director and co-founder of Instant Impact

Company turnover: 

We turned over £100,000 in our first financial year.

Employee numbers:

Currently six, but likely to be double digits by early 2013.

Growth forecast for the next three years:

We are forecasting at least 300 per cent growth in the next year and are hoping that we can exceed that rate over the next three years.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace: 

Quality. We unite fast-growing SMEs with the very best graduates. We interview every applicant face-to-face to save our clients’ time and ensure that we only recommend exceptional candidates. Crucially, we also require that all of our interns are paid for the valuable work that they do.

What’s the big vision for your business?

The vision is to offer a service that allows exciting small businesses to compete with the FTSE 100 for the very best graduates.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

We have clients in Europe, Asia and the US, but it’s still a small aspect of our business. We are exploring an opportunity to properly launch in the US shortly.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

I set up Instant Impact almost immediately after graduating from Cambridge in 2010, so my career hasn’t really been long enough to suffer any major setbacks. The biggest disappointment was my summer internship at a bulge bracket investment bank, but it gave me the inspiration and idea to set up this business.

What makes you mad in business today?

The amount of credit and press coverage that tech entrepreneurs get is fantastic and is hopefully inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. However, it frustrates me that interesting non-tech start-ups are often not given the same level of recognition.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

Hopefully an economic recovery will lead to lower youth unemployment and the FTSE 100 will start increasing the numbers of graduates that they recruit again. SMEs will have to do an even better job to compete for young talent, and hopefully we will be ready to help.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

The network of venture capital firms and angel investors is quite strong for a lot of the SMEs that we work with and with the new EFG scheme I think that things are improving. We tend to find that it’s time, not money, that is the inhibiting factor on the growth of small businesses.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Both my business partner and I are young, and we employ other graduates so we have to tread a line between professionalism and friendship. We operate a flat hierarchy within our firm and I think that they would describe our leadership style as open, honest and trusting. We give our employees a lot of responsibility and make sure that everyone takes initiative within an area of the business. We want everyone to feel comfortable to voice their ideas on how to improve our business.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

With time being so valuable I see tennis as my biggest personal extravagance. I ensure that I have the time after work to play at least two times a week and go on a number of competitive tours throughout the year.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Reduce the red tape. Starting up a business comes with too many centralised administrative burdens; Companies House and arduous forms from HMRC are just the start. I think we should streamline the bureaucracy associated with the formative stages of setting up a business – it needs to be as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to know where to start.

Instant Impact Interns tries to unite fast-growing SMEs with the best graduates and interns. Many business leaders agree that the skills gap is one of the biggest threats to the country’s future. From your experience in working with young graduates and demanding businesses alike, are you positive that, by understanding how to combine the right talent with the right role, we can bridge this gap again?

From our experience graduates from the UK’s top universities are as talented as ever. There is also no shortage of fast-growing SMEs that would benefit greatly from employing top graduates. The difficulty is that SMEs don’t have enough time to access a wide pool of candidates and ensure that they find the right personality, as well as the right skills. By understanding how to link the right graduates, from a large selection of top applicants, with the right business, I am confident that we can bridge the gap at the top level.

To what extent do you agree that finding the right talent is the key to business growth, and why?

I strongly believe that finding the right talent is the key to business growth in any industry. As soon as an initial idea has been proven and the entrepreneurs are ready to expand the business, they need to find employees to share the mounting workload. Crucially, any entrepreneur needs to personally and professionally trust new colleagues and delegate important work to them if their business is to grow.