GWENT entrepreneur Ross Porter began his career in the recruitment sector in 1998 when he started work as a recruitment consultant.

A year later he took the plunge, sold all of his personal possessions and used what little savings he had to raise the funds to start Draig Personnel, which was based in Blackwood.

Ross, aged 48, originally from Barmouth, north Wales, grew Draig Personnel into a recognised name in the recruitment sector which, at its peak, had six branches.

He sold the business in 2011 for an undisclosed sum to Newport-based Acorn Recruitment.

Father of two Ross, a former South Wales Argus Gwent Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner, subsequently created Caerphilly-based Clear Sky Recruitment, and now, 20 years after first setting up in business, the serial entrepreneur reflects on his success.

He said: "I knew from an early age that I was destined to work for myself.

"Having worked as a temporary worker on £3.20p/hr for a number of months on various assignments, I remember going into the Acorn Recruitment branch on Bridge Street in Newport in 1995 to hand my weekly timesheet in and thinking about how the temporary worker supply process must work.

"The idea of one day being sat across the other side of the recruitment desk and earning more than £3.20p/hr instantly appealed to me as I am sure you can imagine!

"I continued to work on numerous temporary assignments until a good friend of mine offered me a permanent role to generate sales for his start-up family business in the training sector in 1996.

"I enjoyed working in sales and I gave it my all in this role. I really appreciated the opportunity my friend and his family gave me, however, I knew deep inside me that it was in the recruitment sector where I belonged.

"To cut a long story short, I handed my company BMW, quit my job and I sold all of my personal belongings and went cap in hand to the bank manager to raise the money to take a punt at a new recruitment venture. To say I set the recruitment business in 1999 up on a shoestring would not be an exaggeration. I risked it all at the age of 27, but I had no fear of failure.

"On November 1, 1999, the doors opened to Caerphilly’s first-ever recruitment agency, Draig Personnel.

"I remember sitting in the dingy little office above a travel agent shop on Cardiff Road with Claire, my girlfriend at the time (who went on to become my wife) being excited as someone had posted our first CV through the letterbox. The rest as they say is history."

Ross said: "The recruitment sector has almost reached saturation point with start-ups popping up here, there and everywhere. I think it is easier to set up in business today than ever before, however, I think lots of people these days have this romantic idea of how lovely it is running your own business. Sometimes, the reality can be a lot different and it really is tough."

He said: "What do I see as my greatest achievement over these 20 years? That’s a difficult question. Some may say that having ranked in the top 50 fastest growing businesses in Wales (Wales Fast Grow 50) three times may be an achievement worth mentioning, but I guess it would have to be still enjoying what I do now as I did back in 1999."

Ross said: "The internet and technology have changed the business world beyond belief over the last 20 years. When I first started out we had one PC with the internet on but it was hardly used until the internet really took off. I had a pager, a fax machine and a telephone and that was it.

"Our candidate database was a handwritten card system and then we progressed to an electronic address book that I bought for a fiver! It’s a world apart from the candidate / client CRM system we use today which cost more than £10k. The business world has also seen a massive change in legislation over the last 20 years."

"It is important for budding entrepreneurs of all ages to have a vision of what they would like to achieve in business and to remain focused on the cause. They must understand that every action results in a reaction, they must take calculated risks and they must be brave and grab opportunities when they appear.

"There is not a perfect formula to setting up your own business. Obviously, you need funds to set up almost every type of business these days, however, you need more than just money to set up and succeed in business today.

"Do your research first. Test the market. See what competition is out there and look at the ones who are doing well and find out how they are doing it. Don’t fear failure and dream big."