Happy birthday Joss Search! 1 February marks 12 years since founder Sivan Joss started the business. Here are 12 lessons she’s learnt over the years…

1) How long can you last
The first thing I did before starting Joss Search was to understand how long I could live on the small amount of savings I had. This was a really helpful starting point.

2) Have a business plan
I’d never written a business plan before but it helped formulate my ideas and understand the challenges. I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time on it though as I’d probably have over thought it.

3) Get started
I was really scared to get started but I realised there is never a ‘perfect time’ to start a business so I did take a huge leap of faith, which I’ve never regretted.

4) Focus on quality
It’s obvious and sounds clichéd but we started the business to provide the best possible service to our clients and candidates (I learned the importance of this being a waitress whist I was at school!). That was the same 12 years ago as it is today.

5) Understand your strengths and weaknesses 
I always knew that I enjoyed the recruitment process and had plenty of experience doing it successfully but as the business grew there were so many challenges that I’d never encountered and didn’t necessarily have the skills to deal with. I learnt as we went along and had to accept making some mistakes (which was a big learning in itself!) but looking back I’d have hired someone earlier to support the admin side – aka one of our candidates – to allow me to focus on driving the business forward and have a life outside of work.

6) Build a culture 
A huge part of starting Joss Search was to work with brilliant people, the Jossies, give them opportunities and treat them really well. My proudest achievement is having employed close to 50 Jossies, over the 12 years, and knowing that we’ve helped improve their careers and lives.

7) Build a brand
Having a genuine mission is inspiring and keeps you focused on what’s important, having a vision allows people to see what the future could look like (for them and the business) and having a set of values means that even when the going gets tough that you stay true to them and never compromise.

8) Employ great people
Having people that buy into your mission and are aligned with your values means that you can grow in the right way, which is especially important for a service based business. A huge learning for me in the first five years was to stop being a micromanager and allow them to get on with their jobs…

9) Build systems and processes
Every time you double your revenue or headcount, your systems and processes need to change. Get help in thinking further ahead when making system changes – will it be suitable for three years time?

10) Have a longer term vision and plan
It’s really important to know what you want to get out of your efforts and to find a way of incorporating this into your life plans. As a working mum, I didn’t prepare for my maternity leaves properly and that’s something I really regret because it meant I couldn’t really have them.

11) Look after #1
This is something I’ve really learned the hard way – it’s essential to carve out time for you. As a leader you are pulled in so many directions and everyone wants something from you. If you relentlessly empty your cup without refilling it, it will creep up on you one day!

12) Gratitude and perspective
Things are never binary, learn to love the grey in business and in life, and it makes everything easier. Be grateful and proud of what you do well and have perspective on the things you can do better and try to improve them – but don’t expect perfection, things will go wrong, and that’s ok!

When you start a business, you never know what life will throw at you. 12 years ago I started Joss Search and this picture was taken around that time. This was also the last time I saw my Dad alive and Joss Search’s anniversary is also my Dad’s birthday, and he would have been 60 today, so lots of celebrations to be had!