Ex-solicitor Jon Curtis is MD of HR Software company MyHRtoolkit where he recently completed an MBO. He tells us how he left his well-established legal career to run the business full-time after finding the ‘entrepreneurial itch’ too strong to resist.
What inspired you to start your business?
I have been a lawyer for 20 years, and even though I loved my legal career, I had a strong entrepreneurial itch. I founded MyHRtoolkit while still a solicitor and founding partner at Ironmonger Curtis but the business grew and continued to get bigger, which resulted in me taking the plunge into the business on a full-time basis.
What’s your favourite thing about running your business?
Most of all I love helping small businesses thrive. Our toolkit helps people with their human resources admin, meaning they can get on with their day job so it’s a great solution that is genuinely needed.
I really enjoy the organisational creativity, but I also love working with the team, and its great to be at the helm of a growing business and being able to quickly solve people’s needs. Many small businesses have a real need for HR Software as a Service (SAAS). We are a meeting a genuine business need.
What are 3 words which best describe your business?
Exciting, necessary and growing.
Why is Sheffield City Region a great place to grow your business?
I love Sheffield people, and especially their attitude to life which is strong without being cocky. Sheffield is home to a great pool of talent when it comes to online design. There’s also an exciting entrepreneurial culture, and online businesses have good support from Sheffield City Region Growth Hub. The city centre is also transforming rapidly, encouraging more talent to come into the area.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t limit your possibilities, think big – don’t settle for “good enough”. I want toolkit to be the UK leader in small business HR software.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
The worst advice has to be to play it safe, sit on what you’ve got, and protect what you have.
Who are the organisations which have supported yourself and your business?
James Wilson from Sheffield City Region Growth Hub has been really helpful. Barclays and Hart Shaw were great during the MBO.
Also, Ironmonger Curtis, where I used to be a solicitor – they were very supportive and understood that I needed to spread my wings a little.
What are the main challenges facing your industry/sector?
Our industry is fiercely competitive. We also rely on online marketing to get our message out which can be challenging and there’s a lot of time, money and thought invested as our strategies are constantly being updated. With designing software, you must remember to keep the product simple and not add too many bells and whistles that it simply doesn’t need.
In 5 years’ time I expect my business to …
I expect us to be the market leader software and to be used by a significant proportion of the country’s small and medium sized businesses.
For more details visit: www.myhrtoolkit.com.