Entrepreneur and Tempo Founder Ben Chatfield Reveals How Motivation And Ambition Beats Experience

Getting a job, or hiring staff hasn’t changed much in decades, according to Tempo CEO Ben Chatfield – you look at the ads, or go to an agency, or hire someone to hire someone. That’s why he founded his startup, to disrupt the status quo. But what did he learn along the way about making a success of an idea, and why does he think that hiring on personal traits beats looking at experience? RSNG talked to him to find out...

RSNG Recruitment looks like an industry ripe for disruption – what inspired you to go after it?
BEN CHATFIELD, ENTREPRENEUR
‘The employment market has changed a huge amount, but the recruitment is dominated by traditional suppliers. Their processes haven't changed in 40 years, and both candidates and employers are desperate for change. There is copious amounts of research being done into what the future of work will look like; into relationships between employees and employers, less linear career paths and the future of continuous learning. Recruitment agencies are simply not set up to deliver on any of these. The opportunity to create something that transforms an industry and improves people’s relationship with work is really exciting. As a startup we relish challenging the status quo and taking on the traditional agencies.’

‘No one actually knows what they're doing, and that’s OK’

RSNG What three start-up lessons have you learned along the way with Tempo?
BC
Done is better than perfect – endlessly tweaking projects until it’s perfect is not efficient or productive. Nothing will get finished and faster moving, more agile competitors will steal the market. When we launched we were really quite embarrassed by our Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It was designed by an intern and looked like a dodgy PowerPoint, but we got our first deal on day two. Ultimately, if you believe in the product, you need to get it out the door and learn how it fairs in the real world.’

No one actually knows what they're doing, and that’s OK – when starting a new business, you are invariably faced with things you know absolutely nothing about. While this can be pretty scary, it what makes starting a business so exciting. It’s helpful to remember that every other founder has been faced with the questions you’re now facing – since starting Tempo, we’ve spoken to as many founders as we can to try and learn. There is pressure as a founder to be right all the time, but at Tempo we take a collaborative approach and, ultimately, the best idea wins.’

You will make mistakes – don’t beat yourself up about it. Starting a business is not a science, sometimes you will just make a bad decision. Crucially, you have to learn from them. Mistakes are a really valuable experience and should be analysed and embraced, rather than hidden and ignored.’

RSNG What has been the hardest thing you’ve tackled on the journey to where you are now?
BC
‘Ironically, hiring. Most people think recruiting for a startup should be easy, but the process has proven equally difficult and validating. We hire a fraction of the people we interview, which is a drain on our time, but it’s so important that it has to be a priority. The old adage remains true – people are the most important part of a business. I'm hugely proud of the team we've assembled at Tempo, so it's been well worth the effort.’

RSNG What achievements at Tempo are you proud of?
BC
‘Since we launched last year we've worked with more than 750 companies, including the likes of Monzo, Babylon Health and Boston Consulting Group. We've also built a community of 15,000 jobseekers and raised £1.5m in funding.’

RSNG Have you had to make your own personal work processes more efficient in order to succeed?
BC
‘Organisation and delegation are something that you have to be on top of. I've had to learn to be much more disciplined in managing myself and my time. There is an endless list of things to do and everything feels like a priority. As a founder you need to learn to delegate and trust those around you.’

RSNG Do you think that we’re even going to be doing traditional ‘jobs’ for very much longer, and that the rise of the personal brand will continue?
BC
‘There's a lot of hype around AI and how robots are going to take our jobs. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, but technology is becoming more fundamental to work. The automation of low-value tasks is already in full-flow, placing more emphasis on soft skills. This will mean how people are assessed for jobs, and how we define what a great candidate looks like, will change. However, we're likely to see a bigger transformation of the traditional ‘career’, with less linear paths and a focus on flexibility and learning.’

RSNG What practical implications does this have if you are seeking a new role, right now?
BC
‘The bigger implication is for hiring companies. Candidates are now incredibly discerning – it's not just about a paycheck, it's about the culture, the mission and the values. This means companies have to be very good at communicating their qualities and creating an employer brand. This is something that many startups have done well – people want to work for companies like Monzo who have a clear vision, culture and give responsibility to employees. It also puts a lot of pressure on the traditional companies to create a narrative themselves.’

RSNG What about looking for staff – how has that process changed?
BC
‘The process of hiring hasn't really ever changed. Your options are pretty limited: advertise online, go to recruitment agencies or build an internal recruitment team to proactively go and source people. Each process has its drawbacks and most companies will probably try a combination of all three. Hiring is the most important thing companies do, but it's also one of the hardest, most frustrating and under-valued processes.’

RSNG Got any tips for creating a killer candidate video?
BC
‘For the Tempo videos, just be yourself. We purposefully don't give too much guidance on what to include in your video, as it should be personal and show your character. Try not to overthink it and remember something is better than nothing – have a go and see what happens. The video instantly makes your profile more engaging to employers, so it's a great thing to do.’

RSNG Do you have any specific tips on how to go about assembling a team for a startup?
BC
‘Hiring on traits rather than experience has served us well. In a startup you need grit, an appetite for problem solving and a can-do attitude, which are things that are very hard to teach. We've adapted our hiring process to focus on people’s motivations and ambitions rather than looking primarily at years of experience. Obviously, this doesn't work for all roles but, as a general rule of thumb, trying to assess for key traits in the interview process is a good place to start.’

WHAT NEXT? Watch Jason Shen’s TED TALK on recruiting for ability rather than experience…

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