Here we are again – another year has passed, and crazily Lighthouse Personnel is now six years old! Looking back to the early days, I remember being five months or so in, when I had four placements with one client confirmed in one hit. To celebrate, Rosey and I invited the in-laws over that evening for some champagne and it felt like the start of something truly special. 
I love looking back at moments like that now and wonder what moments I’ll look back at so fondly when we hit 12 years in business.

Side note: for those wondering, yes, I do get that same buzz when we get a new placement in!
Anyway, enough of the romanticism, let’s delve in!
Our 6-year journey:
After nagging away for a few years about starting my own business, I remember it well when I had the conversation with Rosey about my idea for Lighthouse. Rosey was always hesitant about the risk of leaving the safety of employment to start my own business (as you can expect), but when I discussed Lighthouse with her, Rosey felt peace, and that was all I needed to throw myself a thousand miles an hour into it.

Year one really was a rapid rollercoaster ride (Dec 2017- Dec 2018). From starting with a tiny desk in my daughter’s small box room, to employing our first member of staff and moving into our first office near Colchester Town Centre; it was all so exciting. We were gaining new clients every week and really flying, showing no signs of stopping.
Year two carried on in the same vein (2018-19) when we grew to a team of five, making us feel like we would soon need a bigger premises. Unfortunately, the bubble burst pretty quickly when we hit our first real hurdle which significantly impacted the growth of our business  - the uncertainty of Brexit.
We all know what happened in year 3 (2019-20)! The pandemic near enough wiped us out, like it did for a lot of businesses. Employers requested rebate payments after making our recent placements redundant, offers were retracted from our upcoming placements and all our open vacancies were withdrawn when businesses were forced into lockdown. We really were within days of shutting up shop! As the restrictions lifted, I started working with a Business Coach (our Non-Exec Director who has made a big difference to our business) and offered some free help to the job-seeking community which ended up leading to some significant opportunities. I guess I was unintentionally ‘paying it forward’ as they say!
Year four was all about stabilising and resetting (2020-21). I needed to lick my wounds from the tough two years so that I could get going again. We steadied the ship and started planning what growth could look like again so that we could get back to it. I started networking again to get us back out there and that really helped us to push on.
Year five was by far our best year yet (2021-22)! We absolutely flew, hitting record months and building some great relationships with some really exciting clients. We grew the team again and were once more back up to a team of five. Year five was my favourite year so far, we hired some great people and it felt like we were truly being noticed locally. We were living our values through and through and were smashing it! Christmas was the pinnacle – we held some great events, had some great socials and the team felt unstoppable together. 
This year:
Following our best year yet in year five, year six has definitely been one of the most challenging years we have been through. Rosey and I finished our house renovation in January and the business continued to fly for the first few months. I definitely feel like I dropped the ball when completing the house renovation and I think the business felt it. We lost two very valuable members of our team in March time, just before the market got tough. With the uncertainty caused by the cost of living crisis, businesses and individuals were taking longer in the decision making process of appointment/choosing a new role and it became harder to fill vacancies.  
We used this time to make a few improvements to our processes to streamline and enable us to speak to more candidates which will help us move forward again. 
Things certainly picked up again from September time and the signs are positive heading into the New Year. We have the foundations of something special so are gearing up for a great 2024.
Proudest achievement so far:
Hard to say as we have over-exceeded my initial expectations in many ways. I think the achievements I am most proud of are:
  • Hitting 350 placements across 96 local clients because this demonstrates the numerical size of what we have done and how many we have helped.
  • Achieving over 80 five star reviews on Google,  which demonstrates that we are really delivering the service we set out to achieve
  • Establishing the team that we currently have. I love working with Rosey, Peter, Sam and Donna and really feel we have a great foundation to build from!
Biggest Challenge:
I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you for the ride you’re in for when starting a business. It really is every emotion - worry and excitement, delight and horror, pride and shame! The challenges of running a business have built a resilience in me that enables me to continue dealing with the curve balls thrown at us. 
I think the biggest challenges for us have been navigating COVID and more recently the cost of living crisis. Trying to predict what will happen in an unpredictable world is difficult! With this it has brought challenges that I never expected. To deal with the challenges, I keep my focus on doing the right thing (which is where my faith comes in handy) and keeping my eyes fixed on the long-term goal.
Plans for the future:
After a very unpredictable two years, we will be focussing on enhancing our processes further to continue to ensure we offer an unrivalled service. We will be streamlining processes internally, diversifying slightly in some areas and looking at a few new projects to build on our current offering. We plan to continue to look after our team, with some plans for growth coming shortly into the New Year, so watch this space!
Anyway, enough from me now. For those that made it this far, thanks for reading and please give me a thumbs up in the comments to demonstrate your sterling commitment to making it this far through the blog. We wish all of our clients, candidates, providers, partners, family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2024.