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Three Years of Smart Procurement! Highlights and lessons learned from CEO Gareth Evans

Celebrating three years of Smart Pro has given me a reason to reflect on the journey so far, and to appreciate all those people and businesses who have supported and worked with us in that time. Business success comes as a result of relationships and shared purpose, which is a part of this journey I’ve enjoyed so much.


Starting a business is no mean feat. Statistics show that 60% of businesses fail within the first three years, and operating during a pandemic, as well as surviving a recession are a few of the major challenges we’ve faced in the timing of Smart Pro’s inception.


The highlights, however, by far outweigh the challenges; being chosen to partner with a diverse range of clients, from independent trailblazing business owners up to Government commercial advisory. Supporting them in the delivery of real, tangible societal value including tackling the climate crisis through pinpointed carbon reduction plans or delivering social value by creating safe spaces where youth can develop and thrive. The independence brought on by entrepreneurship has opened the door for me to focus freely on what I value – the delivery of tangible social, environmental and economic value to every client.


I’ve learnt so many valuable lessons as a business owner, though in the interest of brevity I’ll share my top three, which I’m sure many others will relate to:


1)     Listen, and stay humble. Be willing to learn and experience new ways of working.

2)     Stay focused on what clients want, not what we need as a business, by being honest about our capacity to deliver value. We embrace diversity of opinion, thought and ways of working, and collaborate in ways that resonate with our clients’ needs.

3)     Be prudent and save for the downturns. We recognise we are in turbulent times and have built-in resilience measures to safeguard and preserve our long-term viability.


Of course, the past three years have presented several challenges both related to the economy as well as consequential shift in behaviours and attitudes. Events which cause economic shocks like the pandemic, supply shortages, war, energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis led us to adjust our business model, embracing agility and moving to work with a more diverse, multi-layered client portfolio. Leveraging my skills, not just with an emphasis on procurement, but also my persona and people skills and recognising that people value commercial attributes, which I’ve built from my years of being a QS and commercial manager enable me to effectively navigate commercial challenges that arise from economic shock events like these.


Secondly, the effect these huge changes have had on business owners and SLTs is resistance to change and risk avoidance, as well as a lack of prioritisation of carbon-lowering solutions. Here we gave our clients the time and space required to understand the effect of these changes on their business, offering advice and guidance, and demonstrating the link between lowering carbon and cost savings.


It’s been a turbulent yet rewarding three years, and we remain focused on and excited by the journey ahead – continuing to help organisations realise strategic value, refining their procurement and commercial processes to be the catalyst for value and building long-term relationships with shared values at the core.

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