HR & Management

"Vegetarians can't run burger restaurants"

4 min read

31 August 2011

Eight business lessons from Steve Pammenter, co-founder of fast-growth online dating firm Global Personals.

1. Don’t be afraid to take a risk

We both had established careers in other sectors and Ross and I met through the serviced office space that our previous companies were using. Setting up Global Personals was a real jump into the unknown but it has paid off ten-fold.

2. Pick your staff carefully

When we are hiring for a role, we often get flooded with CVs from recruitment companies. We have a very strong, specific company culture so it’s vital to take your time and not be pressured into choosing a candidate quickly. All of management are heavily involved in the recruitment process to make sure each member of the team has the right personality – previous experience or knowledge doesn’t cut it on its own.

3. Don’t listen to doubters

No one would touch us when it came to investment – at the time of launch, banks saw online dating as a “fad that wasn’t sustainable”. We believed in our ideas so strongly that we set up the company using personal credit cards and re-mortgaging our houses – a high risk strategy that paid off quickly.

4. Know your market/product

We are both ex-online daters. We encourage the whole company to use our products to fully understand the process, so that they can relate to our members. They often come up with those light bulb ideas for improvements. Knowledge is key – have you ever heard of a vegetarian who manages a successful burger restaurant?!

5. Remember that the customer pays your wages

Our members are crucial. After all, they play a huge, vital cog in the service that we offer. We have all of our customer support and web development based in our open plan, one-level HQ in Windsor. It would be cheaper to outsource, but it keeps the channels short so we can listen and improve our product as we go. 

6. Go with your gut instinct

Statistics and common sense may point you to an answer, yet your gut instinct tells you something different. Listen to that feeling. There have been times where we have thrown caution to the wind and done what feels right and it has paid off.

7. Whatever your business model is, make it scalable

We have been able to launch in seven countries, yet still operate from our UK HQ. This has given us a fantastic opportunity for growth that we can still closely manage. In business, always look at the bigger picture.

8. Don’t underestimate how successful your company will be in the future

We have recently heavily invested in our company as we know the pay off will be right in the years ahead. The more we seem to invest, the better our business gets. Lastly, make sure you have fun! We are lucky to be able to love what we do and enjoy rewarding our hard-working team.

Steve Pammenter launched Global Personals in 2003 with Ross Williams. The company turns over £30m and employs 95 people.