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Russell Wardrop, co-founder and CEO of Kissing With Confidence Training used £40k of redundancy money from my previous job as a university lecturer in building construction and design to start his company along with co-founder Sharon McLellan. The firm is now approaching £1 million in turnover.
What does Kissing With Confidence Training do?
We create Rainmakers. People who use their skills in persuasion and selling to grow businesses.
What was the ‘aha’ moment that led to the company founding?
My co-founder Sharon and I had always wanted to start a business. My dad started a business at 35, the age I was when I started KWC, so it was in our blood.
I was doing after dinner speaking and debating so we started a presentation skills business.
Why did you launch the company?
To turn a personal passion into a business. For the personal satisfaction of starting my own business, rather than just talk about it. My friends were sick of me saying I was going to do it, I think.
Where did you get assistance when you started?
£40k of redundancy money from my previous job as a university lecturer in building construction and design.
Give us a brief history of the growth of the company
Year one £120k and good growth until the financial crash, which set us back a bit. That is when we started teaching selling skills. We now have a range of high profile businesses as clients by showing how our Rainmaker programme leads to them becoming even more successful.
We will turn over £1 million this year but of more relevance is the data and value proposition of Rainmaker, which will be a catalyst for significant business growth in the coming years.
Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?
No just the redundancy money. We have no debt and cash in the bank.
So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?
We have 12 staff and are looking to grow with our Rainmaker programme.
What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?
Technology has allowed us to collect terrific data that proves our Rainmaker programme delivers a great ROI to our clients. It’s a game changer.
What is your target market – Who is buying your product / service?
Corporates and professional services businesses.
What is your background?
I am a Chartered Architect (yes, that really does take seven years) and was an academic.
What are your goals for your business?
To establish the Rainmaker programme as the go-to programme for professionals who want to be able to sell effectively and achieve their growth targets.
What are your biggest current challenges?
Too much to do with too few resources; it’s an old story.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The financial crash a decade ago was a tough time but it forced us out of our comfort zone and that made us think of Rainmaker. A great lesson, it’s an ill wind that does nobody any good.
What do you do outside work?
I love to chill watching sport or documentaries on my 55 inch telly while cooking in my cracking kitchen.
What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?
I know I still don’t know enough now, but I wish I had known more about business a decade ago. Architects are not taught much about business
What’s the secret to good leadership?
‘If you need to find me I’ll be in the lead tank.’ -General George Patten.
That’s not the only secret of leadership – and it’s a fairly traditional one – but in a small consultancy like ours I am regularly out front with a big audience looking at me… and also on the front line when things go awry.
Where do you see the company in five years?
Trebled in size with Rainmaker established as a core eminent sales programme.
How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?
We need more positive stories and more of a culture that says business is a good thing, to encourage people to go, out and get busy. The news is miserable every night, you would think everything is terrible. But it’s not.
More optimism and a better can do attitude.