National Business Awards Entrepreneur finalist focus: Matthew Sanders, Brookfield Rose

Tell us about your business.

Brookfield Rose is one of the UK’s most successful business groups, founded by myself, Matthew Sanders. The companies within the group offer innovative and market-leading solutions and systems to the recruitment sector. de Poel, the core business, manages the temporary recruitment requirements of over 70 private and public sector clients, including Sainsbury’s, Argos and Asda. We work with over 1,000 temporary recruitment agencies, helping to place about 40,000 agency workers each week.

How did you fund your business?

In the beginning, it wasn’t easy! To start up my first business, de Poel, I needed to raise enough money to fund it, which involved me not only selling my house but also putting £60,000 on a credit card.

I worked seven days a week for five years and had little time for a social life. However, knowing that I would succeed in the long-term kept me focused and determined; I was confident that success would soon follow.

What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs are facing?

There are many challenges that entrepreneurs face each day, whether they manifest themselves as external threats or form part of an internal struggle. When starting up a new business, you may be plagued by self-doubt and there will be people out there looking for an opportunity to sabotage your ideas and your creativity.

The key is to think long-term and ‘bulletproof’ yourself and your business. There will always be people out there looking to challenge you and your business, like there will always be fierce competition. However, grit, determination, hard work and an ability to read the market just at the right time will lead on to success.

Can you give any advice to others starting up businesses?

Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm and put your head above the parapet. A combination of focus, self-belief, having the idea and seeing it through, and surrounding yourself with a strong team, is key to success. I have been fortunate enough to work with people who share my vision of improving service levels in the recruitment industry and this ethos is carried right through the company.

It is my strong belief that tenacity, energy, passion and hard graft are the key ingredients; I have built a fast-growth, game-changing company as a testament to this.

How do you think we can encourage entrepreneurialism in young people to create a generation of entrepreneurs?

Whilst employment prospects are looking up for young people, there is still not enough being done to encourage entrepreneurialism when they are in education.

We should highlight more success stories and reassure young people that university is not everything, and certainly not the only route to success. There are many entrepreneurs that have succeeded because they have worked hard and shown tenacity and relentless enthusiasm, rather than gaining numerous qualifications or always putting theory into practice. Practical skills, in my opinion, far outweigh getting a first class honours degree, although of course you have to judge each case individually, on its own merit.

Entrepreneurs are the people who will continue to be at the forefront of the economic recovery and are positive role models to our younger generation. This is why our entrepreneurs of tomorrow should be encouraged and supported to find their own niche.

After all, entrepreneurialism is more than just setting up a business. It is about having an idea, seeing that idea become a reality and then having the inspiration to create more ideas. Our younger generation need to be inspired, and to find inspiration within themselves. They should be encouraged to learn self-belief and also given the know-how to turn their ideas, whatever they may be, into reality.