Being an Entrepreneur: Still Going!

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? 

  1.  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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.  
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.   
  1. 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.   
  1. 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!