Business Journey: Jenny Kilburn of Synergos
Jenny Kilburn founded Synergos Consultancy Ltd in 2014. The Huddersfield-based businesswoman recognised the needs of many businesses needing to achieve compliance. She shares her story with UMi.
Tell us about your business. What does it do?
Synergos (derived from the Greek word meaning ‘working together’) is a specialist consultancy company, set up in 2014, who assist businesses to achieve various means of compliance, including; ISO Certifications, Health & Safety Management, SSIP Accreditations, AEO Status, GDPR Compliance and more.
Working closely with UKAS certification bodies and accreditation services, we provide clients with established and practised methods of achieving desired results.
Based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Synergos is conveniently located to partner with businesses across Yorkshire and major UK cities, as well as supporting international clients.
What did you do before you started the business?
Before launching Synergos, I spent many years working in social care. My first role was at Kirklees Council’s family services, then moving to a number of voluntary-based drug services, where I worked with vulnerable young people and adults to provide appropriate support, teaming with the police, social workers, doctors, hospitals and mental health services. I moved through the ranks and eventually worked as a non-executive Director for a mental health charity.
I gained a degree in Youth and Community Work, and several years later completed a Master in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Huddersfield.
What inspired you to start up?
Having completed my MBA in 2012 I was looking for a way to start my own business. After a business owner made a remark on Facebook about communication issues within his business, I asked if there was anything I could do to help and bravely pitched my services. I spent time researching Quality Management Systems and then conducted my first audit. This proved to be an extremely successful first client audit and I was recommended again and again, with glowing reviews via social media.
In 2014, Synergos Consultancy was born. From working alone, I believe my grit and determination has led to me now having a very happy team of four and Synergos now provides services for almost 200 businesses internationally.
How would you describe the business to your Grandma?
We help business owners gain the recognition that will help them to improve their reputation, which in turn helps them to gain more business and keep their customers happy.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
For our industry, advice comes from following UKAS guidelines for ISO. We use the HSE website for health and safety information. Support also comes from fellow auditors or accredited certification bodies, who are very helpful.
Finance is often one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I started without accessing any loans or overdrafts. Then once set up, all profits from sales were invested back into the business to build a small nest egg.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Synergos has made great steps since it was founded in 2014. From starting out with one business consultant, Synergos now employs two, as well as an administrative assistant and a compliance support officer, with plans to take on a third consultant. Synergos offers services to all public and private sectors across the nation and we have increased our client base over the last six years to almost 200. With a steady year-on-year growth, we remain on track to achieve our goals.
We are in a fortunate position to be able to support our local community more and are currently in negotiations as to how we can best support a newly-chosen local charity this year. In the past, we have supported The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice by being a member of their 99ers Business Club, collecting clothing and household donations in our wheelie bins and raised money for them by holding raffles. We have funded a part-funded a scholarship for the Audrey Spencer School of Dance and we are now supporting The British Dance Performance Championship, primarily attended by dancers aged six to 17 years by providing a cash donation to the winners.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Being my own boss is full of different emotions… It isn’t always a nice position to be in, because all the pressure lays heavily on my shoulders. However, the rewards can also be great when business is going well.
Where do you see your business in 15 years?
Synergos has built a reputation for helping clients, across a wide range of business sectors, to achieve their business goals through successful collaboration. The Synergos team believe that building a great relationship with our clients is key to ensuring we win and retain business. As a result, in 15 years, we see ourselves expanding our team of consultants and office support and adding to our portfolio of services so that when clients work with us we can provide a ‘one-stop-shop service’ for all their compliance needs.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Ensure you follow the three M rule. Know your market; be clear there is a market for what you are going to be offering. Be clear what your message will be and know exactly which media you will use to get your message across.
Importantly, enjoy what you are doing because there will be difficult times ahead but if you enjoy your work, plan and implement, you will get through this to reap incredible rewards.