Chris Rhodes
Tom Keighley

Member Article

Behind the business with Companybook

Companybook is a new intelligence platform aimed at businesses for use in lead generation and relationship management. CEO Chris Rhodes takes Bdaily behind the business.

What key challenges has your company recently faced?

The sheer pace of change is challenging – but also incredibly exciting. Companybook is transforming so quickly as a company – moving headquarters to the UK, significantly updating our product, expanding the team, developing new relationships, working with our investors… the list seems endless! It’s hard work but also great fun and very rewarding.

What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?

We’ve come an amazingly long way in the last year. The product, in terms of its ability to generate prospect lists and follow companies is unrecognisable from a year ago. We’ve trebled the amount of data we process and made a huge step change in the accuracy of our search – they sound like small things but behind the scenes they take a huge amount of work. Our biggest achievement has to be the product – there’s a long way to go but we’re really proud that it’s already helping many small businesses gain an edge in the business world.

What is your biggest focus for the coming year?

For us it’s spreading the word about how we help businesses to grow. Most SMEs still research their sales leads manually – if they research them at all! When we get people using Companybook they start to see opportunities they never knew existed, and it’s amazing to see our platform helping companies do that.

We’re a small business with big aspirations, and helping other small businesses grow is the key to our strategy – so we’re focused on that, and spreading our message to every corner of the SME community.

If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, or is currently operating within your industry sector, what would it be?

Starting a business is really hard, you will get knocked down many times but how you handle this will play a large part in determining how successful your business will be. I think there are three things that all start-ups need:

Perseverance – turning an idea into reality is hard, but if you persevere, and your idea is good, there is no reason why you can’t turn that idea into a successful company.

Humour – business doesn’t have to be 100% serious all the time. Take comments and feedback openly, but sometimes with a pinch of salt. Seeing the lighter side can make a huge difference to your personal and business attitude, as well as that of your team. Without a bit of laughter I would probably break!

A great team – whatever you do, don’t try and do it alone. Surround yourself with the best people who you can bounce ideas off, (and who can take some of the knocks) and celebrate with when you finally get your big break.

Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business, in your region or generally, and where your organisation sits within it?

Bleak! Everything in the UK has stagnated – there are 2.52 million unemployed people in the UK; national debt is currently at 90% of GDP (£1.387trillion); the UK economy only grew by 0.3% in the first 3 months of 2013; the IMF cut its growth forecast for the UK from 1 per cent to 0.7 per cent for 2013; and the CBI says the economy will grow by just 1 per cent this year and 2 per cent in 2014.

But despite the gloom, in this climate there are real advantages to being an SME – the ability to react quickly, and be flexible and innovative. Large organisations can’t achieve this easily, and it’s growth amongst SMEs that will lead countries out of stagnation. This growth is unlikely to be supported strongly by the banks, which are still so reluctant to lend. Growth needs to come organically, and it’s platforms like ours that enable SMEs to really tap into this growth.

Companybook already has over 3.2 million UK businesses and 50 million European businesses in its database. There’s a huge opportunity for the UK’s SME community to find information on who to do business with, previously information only available to large companies with big budgets. You can even keep an eye on competitors! With Companybook you no longer need to pay thousands in enterprise software licences, as this data is now available to SMEs for less than £1 a day.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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