Consolidation? No, thanks!
You could say I have growth genes. Whatever I’m involved in, I want to see it grow. When someone talks to me about consolidation, I get the creeps.
Despite that, I founded my first business when I was already 31. Accent Jobs was a recruitment and staffing agency. We started with one office, 10 years later we had 150 offices and now we have over 790.
Today, Accent Jobs is the largest entity of The House of HR, the European holding company encompassing 10 entities specialising in temporary employment and outsourcing – worth €3 billion. We were able to grow like that because we were open to external funding and expertise. The Belgian investment company Gimv helped us become more professional; the French Naxicap helped us make our mark on the international stage. 7 years later we decided to sell the company to Bain Capital Private Equity. Since then, I have been active as a board member of House of HR.
You’re not born an entrepreneur. You become one.
At the age of 50, I decided to step back as CEO and pursue what really drives me. I set up two new businesses focusing on female entrepreneurship. Stella P. – Stella Polaris or pole star – is a head-hunting firm that brings more diversity into boards. We Are Jane is a 100% female investment company that invests in scale-ups led by women.
Education and networking
When I started out, I had no background in economics or management. Programmes at Vlerick Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School trained me in areas such as growth, strategy, people management and financial management. Studying at business schools not only made me more confident about running a business, it also gave me access to large networks of like-minded entrepreneurs. When we come together, it feels like coming home.
6 ingredients for growth
“Conny, what’s your recipe for growth?” It’s a question I often get asked. No matter how big or small your company may be, I think there are six key ingredients.
Hoover over the tiles below to discover them.
Know your figures
Where are your direct and indirect costs coming from? How much does it cost you to make a sale? And are your overheads really driving revenue?
Document your strategy
When you get people on board, you cannot expect the company strategy to be in everyone’s head. That’s why documentation and communication are key.
Measure and act accordingly
Measure the health of your business every month based on KPIs. Measuring is knowing. Knowing is being in control.
Networks provide oxygen. They allow you to connect with like-minded people, to benchmark with competitors and other sectors, or simply to get some guidance.
Networks allow you to connect with like-minded people, to benchmark with competitors and other sectors, or simply to get some guidance.
Recognise talent in others
Superheroes don’t exist. Surround yourself with a good wingman or wingwoman. And don’t be afraid to call on other people to get things done.
Invest in lifelong learning
Don’t delay education. Your competitors aren’t slowing down, and the delays just compound the knowledge gap.
Winner of the Vlerick Award, 2017
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Conny Vandendriessche is the founder and owner of Stella P., a firm specialising in selecting external directors for company boards, and House of HR, a firm specialising in everything about people &am...