For those who know me, know that I don’t like to settle and be comfortable. I like change, I like to be challenged and I look for ways to do more.
Growing up, I was the eldest child (of three) to immigrant parents. My dad spent 40 years driving a taxi and my mom worked for over 35 years in a factory. They tried to provide for their children the best they could but we always just got by. They were constantly in fear of being laid off from the factory or the taxi business slowing. Like many parents, they instilled the importance of education in their children and all three of us went on to graduate from university. Upon graduation, like many of my friends, I joined a bank but quickly realized that I did not enjoy banking. I stumbled upon the search business and joined one of the global firms in 2000. Single and with no mortgage, I thought I would try search for a couple years and then get a real job. Seventeen years later, I’m still a recruiter and loving it!
Although I was fortunate to have joined a global firm and receive some great training, I always felt something was missing. I left the global firm to join a mid-sized Canadian firm and then a boutique, thinking that I could somehow gain the job satisfaction I was looking for by working in a more entrepreneurial environment. What I was really missing was the opportunity to build something myself. The money was great but the sense of ownership was not there. In late 2015, I put the wheels in motion to start my own business and officially launched my firm last month. Although there are many reasons why someone starts a business, the following are mine:
Pride of Ownership
Over the past 17 years in search, as my business grew I found myself working more and more hours. Although I took some vacations, I always found myself responding to emails, negotiating an offer or managing candidates while on the beach. If I was going to work this hard, I might as well do it for myself. Rather than building someone else’s business and dream, I would much rather build my own. I am better able to justify the long hours and working on the weekends if it is my own business. I will be building my own brand and my own company, not somebody else’s.
Although I was a “partner” in some of these other firms, it was never my business. I was never the owner. The search business is project driven with very little, if any, recurring revenue. When the economy tanks, which it eventually does, being a “partner” means very little when the “higher ups” make a decision to cut staff. I have been fortunate, or lucky, to have survived a half-a-dozen restructurings over my career and you can’t help but feel that you may be next. The search business is very cyclical. In my own business, I am highly motivated to produce as I will enjoy the payoff and I’m able to better control expenses. No boss or senior executive can come to me and decide whether I have a job or not.
The Business Has Changed
Social media has disrupted the search industry. With LinkedIn and other networking sites, search professionals have found themselves competing with internal corporate recruiters and job advertisements more and more. No longer can I brag to my clients that I have a terrific database of candidates as every recruiter has access to the same people. I found myself relying less on a proprietary database, and by extension the firm I worked for, and relying more on my own relationships and the ability to work hard and be creative on every search. I found that people work with people they like and trust, and that is where I have received my business over the past several years.
The Time Was Right
Although I wish I had done this a decade ago, I’m glad I didn’t wait another ten years. I’m at a point in my life where my children are a bit older and I have the support of my wife to dedicate the time to build a business. For my clients, nothing has changed other than the company invoicing them. The consultant and the level of service is still the same.