HK HUB Spotlight: Interview with Tracey Nicole Batty of Pure Professionals and The Body Benefits
In the next of our Spotlight series, we meet with serial entrepreneur, Tracey Nicole Batty, who is the founding director of one of Hong Kong’s most successful recruitment and training specialists, Pure Professionals. She has also launched The Body Benefits, a line of successful natural health and weight loss supplements. We chatted with Tracey to find out about her career, how she juggles running two successful businesses alongside mentoring other female entrepreneurs and being mum to 6 year old Isabella.
HKH: Tell us a little about your background and why you launched your businesses
TNB: I specialise in creating businesses, profit improvement, business process reengineering, training and consulting. I have been working in the recruitment and training industries for over 20 years and I owned my first recruitment and training firm when I was 26 years old.
After having my daughter in 2008, I decided that I didn’t want to return to an ‘employee’ job. I also I wanted to provide quality services at reasonable prices, with brands that people could trust and so from January 2009, I founded, lead, managed and owned a large amount of shares in a number of companies including Pure Professionals (Pure Support Professionals, Pure Training Academy) and Body Benefits Ltd.
As well as this, I’m also the founding administrator to a variety of online communities. The community group that I love being involved in the most is Hong Kong Mumtrepreneurs because I enable a conduit so Hong Kong mothers, who own businesses, can support each other. I also offer free coaching and seminars as part of my philanthropy work.
I created Pure to be both a holistic recruitment agency and training company so we kept a strong focus on helping people in addition to providing exceptional service levels. I created Body Benefits to truly help people with weight loss and natural health goals.
HKH: What originally brought you to Hong Kong?
TNB: I came to Hong Kong with Drake International in 2000 for a project, fell in love with the city and decided to stay on as their Asian General Manager. I came initially for two years, then stayed for another two, chased permanent residency then had my daughter and made Hong Kong home. Besides the pollution and rents, I think Hong Kong is the best place in the world to live. It is very convenient and suits my entrepreneurial flair.
HKH: What inspired you to launch your businesses?
TNB: I see a lot of companies that are overly focused on profit, rather than quality. I wanted to offer clients and customers the brands backed by me, that they could trust!
I love recruitment and training and wanted to offer exceptional services and solutions to the market place. I wanted to do this by offering inspiring and uplifting work environments founded on integrity, where my teams could love what they do and excel in their roles. In addition, I wanted to build companies where I would be able to have flexibility of my time once they were established.
HKH: What have been your biggest challenges?
TNB: I launched the Recruitment business of Pure in January 2009, after the 2008 stock market crash, in the worst economy imaginable. My expertise was in banking recruitment so I was horrified when I started calling clients and prospects to find that everyone was frightened, getting fired or displaced. I met this challenge head-on with branching out into Legal and other sectors and am so pleased that I did because I have learned so much about so many industries.
It was a lot of hard work with very long hours and very stressful for the first few years after Pure’s launch, but slowly the market improved and our brand became entrenched in Hong Kong. Nowadays, I always carry the business owner stress but enjoy a lovely work life balance.
Another challenge was hiring and retaining loyal staff that saw, believed and followed my vision. I am proud of my teams and have solid workplace families. My teams thrive on having the opportunity to go above and beyond and delivering exceptional outcomes.
We launched the Pure Training Academy in February 2014 and I am thrilled with its progress but we had our initial start-up challenges and we needed to build a robust strategic selling model to produce the momentum we wanted.
HKH: What’s your favourite part of the job?
TNB: My favourite part of the job/s is the broad scope of my roles and being involved in the dynamic business world. I love to be able to use my creative and strategic thinking and work with people!
I am a visionary and love that I can take a thought and create something from that. I always try and push myself to see what is and isn’t possible. I aim high but I am OK if I don’t achieve my grand plan, all the time.
I absolutely love being creative, helping clients, people and working with and developing my senior team. It is truly a magnificent feeling to help people and touch people’s lives in positive ways.
HKH: What do you miss, if anything, from your corporate role?
TNB: Nothing! I am a free spirit so it was too rigid for me. I am very grateful for the dozen or so years that I spent in the corporate arena though, because I acquired some excellent skills that have allowed me to manage successful businesses today. I doubt I would be where I am without having spent the time in the corporates!
HKH: Where do you see your businesses in five years’ time?
TNB: I strategically did not expanded regionally because I had a young child and I didn’t want to be a mother who travelled all time for work. I wanted to be home every night to spend quality time before her bedtime, even if that meant, working all night after she was asleep. Now that she is older, Pure’s focus for both recruitment and training, over the next five years is to expand to Singapore, Thailand and Australia on the back of the constant client requests.
Body Benefits is a successful online retailer and I see it continuing to expand its product range to meet the needs of our customers. The beauty of online retail is its reach. We will become a premier retailer in the Asia Pacific region.
HKH: How do you retain a work/life balance?
TNB: It took a few years to achieve a work life balance but through self-discipline, mindfulness and perspective, time management and support, I achieve it (most of the time).
My family is number one. Then, my work, health and longevity are equal priorities. Knowing this, I manage my time to ensure all areas are being nurtured as needed. That said, I sometimes feel stressed and burdened by all the diverse demands and responsibilities so intimate holidays away with my family are essential.
I also spend a lot of time with my daughter who has the most amazing imagination. Sharing this space allows me to enjoy life from another angle – interestingly her world is full-on, fun, interesting and enjoyable like mine. My fiancé and I love hiking the hills together and travelling. We are a family of foodies so we love trying new restaurants. I am blessed that Dominic is my ‘go to’ person and I can achieve a great volume of things because of his and Isabella’s support.
HKH: What are your go-to time saving resources?
TNB: Technology has become my best friend. And my biggest, go-to-time saving resource is having the right team and alliance partners supporting my goals.
HKH: What advice would you give other women who are considering striking out on their own?
TIP NUMBER 1 – From me, as Tracey Nicole Batty:
Make sure you are well resourced in every way (financially, people, equipment, suppliers, and professionals), and that you have a robust and commercially astute business plan that is realistic and achievable and WORK THE PLAN.
TIP NUMBER 2 – From me, as a Business Consultant:
“8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start business fail within the first 18-months. A whopping 80% crash and burn”
Most start-ups have great ideas and start-up branding/marketing investment ($), but do not have enough capital, hardy strategies, business development drive and processes, loyalty programs, time management and are unable to maintain personal/professional objectivity leading to loss and failure.
I absolutely believe it is a business imperative to employ a professional Business Consultant/Coach (who is proven and specialises in growing small businesses), to help you maintain perspective and increase momentum during the initial crucial months.
A good Business Consultant can help you grow from being a technical specialist in your craft (e.g. photography, cake making, training) into a Founding Managing Director of an independent and successful business.