Ruth Hall is co-founder and Managing Director of Everything Tech and founder of The Ruth Badger Consultancy. She is also a former runner up on the second series of The Apprentice (then she was called Ruth Badger).
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
From being a very young age, I’d always known what I wanted to be – rich! That’s because, while I grew up in a very loving family with both my parents working, we never had any money.
After leaving full time education aged 16 and with just three GCSE’s, I joined a Youth Training Scheme within the Civil Service. During the early years of my career, I worked in various different roles to build up my experience including at Yates, Wolves Football Club and finance firm Purple Loans. However, my big break came when Purple Loans was bought by GE Capital. Within 18 months, I’d been promoted four times!
In 2002, when I was 23 years old, I won the European Employee of the Year for GE Capital which really sparked my ambitions to do better and be the best I can be. That saw me leave GE Capital to join the executive board of a North West finance company, Compass Finance. A year later, aged 24, I was appointed to Head of Sales and Operations and within two years, I’d transformed the company’s performance and turnover, increasing it from £3.1m to £13.1m which led to the flotation of the business in 2004. It was at this point I decided I needed a change.
In 2005, I appeared on BBC’s hit show The Apprentice, and quite honestly, it was one of the best experiences of my life – it grounded me and put my feet firmly on the floor. And in 2007, I fronted my own series ‘Badger or Bust’.
In 2006, I launched The Ruth Badger Consultancy which specialises in helping SMEs start, grow and improve; this has seen me help over 350 small businesses launch and over 200 to grow. The main element of my business now is in creating and delivering commercial strategies forming internal leadership teams to generate sustainable growth. It was while delivering my first projects I understood the importance of IT and that’s how I met Lee Wrall and in 2010, we co-founded Everything Tech, a Managed Services Provider that we have grown from a back bedroom to being on track for £5m turnover in 2022.
My career to date has always been about stepping stones – being a ‘doer’ and working hard to get where I wanted to be. I never ‘accepted my lot’ or thought, ‘this is all I can do’; I’ve done lots of different things which has taught me lots of different lessons, and I think people underrate that. Life and work experience is a key factor in success in my opinion.
In short, I’m walking proof that a positive attitude can get you where you want to be in business and in life.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
In terms of Everything Tech, I’d already met Lee after he began doing our IT for us in another business I owned. At that point he was a one-man-band. I realised quite quickly how important technology was for business continuity, connectivity and productivity and as such, saw a real opportunity to grow a vital business alongside Lee.
At Everything Tech, we’re dedicated to business support and innovating in order to make improvements, our key aim being to make our customers’ business’ more productive and therefore profitable using technology.
How did you achieve awareness?
A number of ways. Firstly, my appearance on The Apprentice has had an incredibly powerful impact on awareness. There have been 16 years of the show, but only a handful of names are remembered. I’m one of the lucky ones and for the right reasons (fingers crossed!)
Having credibility and delivering on your promises is also great for awareness – referrals and positive word of mouth are so important when increasing brand awareness. Marketing is also vital – in fact it is the only spend I never cut, even when budgets are tight. As well as growing awareness externally, it’s also important to us to consider our employer brand as our staff are often our biggest ambassadors.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The majority of growth with Everything Tech has come organically but that’s not surprising considering what I do in my Consultancy. Acquisitions and good financial management within the business is also key and we focus on reinvesting our capital back in to ensure we have the ability of scale.
What are the key successes?
- Under promising and over delivering
- Having a clear vision and plan – this allows us to focus on the things that are delivering results rather than getting distracted
- Hard work : ‘Activity leads to Revenue’; if you aren’t generating revenue, you simply aren’t doing enough. If you think you are then review what you are doing as something isn’t working!
- People are the key to a Company’s success. I always say “people buy people” so we only work with nice people who believe in what we do and want to succeed.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Getting started in my career was the biggest challenge – everyone said I needed experience but then nobody would give me any. I also had a lot of people telling me I was too young at certain stages, for example, when I became an executive board member.
I also find people who invent their own truth and the blame culture that exists in some companies a challenge. Which again, is why it’s so important to hire good, kind people who fit our cultural ethos.
Finally, I think leaders today are facing challenges we’ve never seen before. Disposable income is being squeezed, Brexit continues to cause supply issues and Covid remains on the radar. As a nation, we’ve pulled together and many businesses have survived, but the challenges remain.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Currently, my plans are to balance running two businesses and raising a two year old! Being a working mum definitely changes everything and has certainly given me more compassion.
In terms of professionally, my aims are to create sustainable and organic growth in my businesses and continue to deliver while staying grounded in our approach.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Having met and worked with many people, I’ve found I meet more people who talk about starting a business than actually do it. My advice is get on with it. People who make mistakes are people who take risks and learn lessons. One of my mottos is “nothing worth doing is ever easy” but it wouldn’t be as much fun if it was!
Profitability is vital. Spend less than you earn, leave the branded mugs and flashy cars behind until you have money and with hard work, success will come.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My Mom. As Principal Officer and Head of Equal Pay at Unison, she had an incredible work ethic. She is a lovely, gentle natured, articulate woman but you wouldn’t want to cross her! I get my work ethic from my Mom.
The Queen. We talk a lot about influential women in our country but we forget about the woman who runs it. Her commitment to our country and doing right by us is incredible.
Pink! I love her approach to juggling being a working mum with a rock star. Her music also really inspires me, in fact her songs have made me change my career twice!
Jack Monroe. She is so intelligent and real and understands the problems we all face. I think the House of Lords could do with more people like her!
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
- Transparency leads to focus and focus leads to growth.
- Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed.
- Under promise over deliver.
- Give me 10 reasons why you should not 10 reasons why you shouldn’t!
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?