I have officially been an entrepreneur for 4 months.
I have learned more about myself in those 4 months than I ever did in school or at work.
I have always been autonomous. I am a self-starter and have my own competitive motivations to keep me over-achieving. This has sometimes rubbed co-workers, managers and teams the wrong way. So, I never felt like I fit in when I worked in a corporate office. It always felt like a battle between my dreams and my reality.
The job I quit, to become an entrepreneur, was a great company with great people but I never felt like I was a part of the organization. I used to walk around with my head down, not really talking to people. I was never myself. I achieved, hit every goal, exceeded expectations on the function but I never felt like I was respected for my knowledge and my role. I can only liken it to when you are 22, entering the workforce as a noob. I always felt like people were looking at me saying, “Kids these days…” and I am in my 40s….
So, I quit. The most terrifying thing I have ever done. I am a risk adverse person. You W2, 401K and get benefits. That is just want you do. I have spoken about the initial reaction to working for yourself. The out of body experience it all was. I won’t rehash. (Go read in the blog!)
But now 4-5 months out, what is going on? How am I doing? What am I learning?
- Only a self-motivated/competitive person will do well starting a business. Sorry if that is harsh but I believe it. Every single day I must get up and have a strategy. There are no days off. To stay successful in a recruitment agency, I must do sales, sourcing, interviews, social media, blogging, and community outreach every single day. Every single day you must have a plan. You have no one telling you what to do. What your goals are. What your quarterly metrics are. YOU must make them up and self-manage yourself to exceed. If you have any issues with that in your current work life – don’t go out on your own.
- Prepare for the unexpected. There are expected cycles in recruitment. I know that Q1-Q2 is going to busy. I know that the summer it slows down. I know that Q3 picks up again and I know Q4 dies until Santa comes. That is not the unexpected, you can manage that. The unexpected is financial. I realized, about three months in, that I was not going to be as successful as I know I could be without investing. So, I worked with my advisor and I invested in stronger software. It will pay for itself, but I was not expecting to have to invest so soon into my venture. Growing pains. Unexpected cost. So be prepared to adjust your plans and have a strategy for it. Have a plan just in case.
- Diversification makes work more exciting. I was asked many times when I first started what I was going to focus on, what niche. My focus is mid-senior/executive level positions. Industry to me does not matter. I have worked in just about every industry. So why limit myself? That is what I love about recruitment the most. The diversity of it all. Working with healthcare, sales, architecture, engineering, aerospace and technology companies has kept my days interesting. Me personally – if I sourced for the same position all day, I would lose interest in this venture sooner than later. It’s not me. You must build a business that is YOU. You really can’t win over everyone.
- You measure your success. No one else. There is no one (other than my mother and husband) that needs to know what my wins and losses are. I measure my success. Not everything is money focused in the beginning (although the money thing is very fun). I felt successful when clients started calling me directly with their openings – hearing I was a great recruiter. That is a win. I felt successful when a candidate told me I was the best recruiter he has ever worked with. I felt successful when my blog posts trended on Linkedin. I felt successful adding 2000 LinkedIn followers in 4 months! I felt successful the first time a non-friend/family member followed my social media. You measure your success. Take your wins. It’s not always about the fee.
- Life is happier. Gone are the days where I am scared to take time to get the mail or throw in a load of laundry. I manage my time. I manage where I get to work for the day. I manage what I do every single day. I can make appointments, get an oil change, take care of my health, work out, have lunch with a friend, and volunteer. It’s on my time. My life is less chaotic. My life is less anxious and stressful. You would think it would be stressful to build a business – it is for other reasons – but the work/life balance I now have will be impossible to give up.
- There are no limits. I work with one client that sends me 4 jobs a day. Jobs I can choose to work across the country. I can make as much as I want – depending on how much I want to work. Right now, I am managing about 12 requisitions. That is my sweet spot for now. Down the road, maybe I increase. I can build this as big as I want or keep it as intimate as I want. That is a great feeling. I manage my workload – which as a corporate recruiter you really have no control over.
- It can be lonely. If you are the kind of person that needs human interaction and small talk- don’t do what I am doing. I personally don’t need it, but you have moments where you feel alone. I realized that I was brain dumping on my husband the second he came home from work – just because he was an actual human to talk to about my day! My dog looks like she is listening, but you can never tell. Some previous coworkers and I still text – which I love. But most have disappeared – the only connection really being that they needed something from me when I was there. It is expected. Emails go unanswered. Facebook requests get ignored. Pressure not to talk to me anymore – scary recruiter! I get it. Work relationships are not always what they seem.
2019 is coming to a close. I have been at this for 4 months and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. I met all my goals for the inception of my business. I am on track for a big 2020. My support system has never been stronger. My happiness has never been higher. I did the scary part. Now onto the fun part. Crush 2020!