After 17 years of working in traditional, more corporate environments, I decided to start my own business. I was excited to finally be my own boss, but I was also scared of what I didn’t know. The journey the past 3 years has been filled with a lot of “ups” and a few “downs”. Even if I’m fortunate to grow my business and look back after 10 years, I’m sure the anxiety that I and many entrepreneurs feel will not change. The following have been some of my learnings:
Underestimating the Cost Involved
How expensive could it be? All I need is a computer, a phone and an internet connection. What I discovered was all the costs that I didn’t anticipate. I need office space to interview candidates. I need contract researchers to start, and eventually full-time staff to help with research and business development. I have lawyers and accountants to pay. I need a marketing budget to develop my website and content, a marketing brochure, a budget for travel and meals. I need office supplies, a lot of office supplies. I need a cushion in my bank account for those months that are slower than others.
I can no longer wait for the phone to ring. I have had to hustle to develop clients. As a retained search firm, having a roster of candidates is not the problem, it’s having enough companies that will hire me (and more importantly trust me) to do their search. Companies have a lot of options when it comes to search providers, and I’ve had to find ways to differentiate myself in the market. I’ve had to rely on my personal connections and referrals for business. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll cold-call a company and the stars will line up and they have an immediate need and are considering using a different firm.
Recruiting and Motivating Staff
I’m good at hiring senior talent for my clients. It’s been much tougher to hire for my own business. I’ve had some interesting experiences when I’ve been recruiting for summer students and permanent staff. I’ve been excited after speaking and/or meeting with potential employees, only to have them not return my calls, cancel or not show up for an interview. I’ve developed a greater understanding of what “ghosting” or being “ghosted” means. Once I do make a hire, I’ve had to learn how to train, mentor and motivate staff. I have never had to do this before, so this has been new territory for me.
Learning to Relax
I’m happy when I’m busy. When it’s slow, I get anxious. I’ve had to learn to not to be so hard on myself and understand that slow periods don’t last forever and that if you are doing all the right things, the business will come. It just takes time.
Overall, if I had to do it again, without a doubt I would. I only wish I had done it sooner.
Lakeshore Human Capital Inc. (“LHCI”) has built a reputation among executive search providers for superior client service, comprehensive sector and functional knowledge, and senior partner involvement on every assignment. With tenures at global and boutique firms, LHCI founder and managing partner Mandeep Grewal brings over 17 years of experience in the retained executive search industry.
As a member of HGM Search Partnership, Lakeshore Human Capital has the reach of the global search firms while still benefitting from the adaptability, agility, and personalized attention for which LHCI has become known. The partnership maximizes the many benefits of the boutique firm model for clients while allowing members the opportunity to leverage each others’ expertise.