Building My First Business


And in the beginning, there was light. A light bulb, to be metaphoric. A simple idea for a new company. The next stage of my life?

If all goes well, this blog will journal the highs (hopefully many) and lows (hopefully few) of starting a super successful business. If all goes badly, I will be Googling myself 30 years from now, find this entry, and want to kill myself because I am still a VP of sales of someone else’s bright idea (or worse yet – the CEO!) . Time and effort will tell.

The fact is, I am at the very origin of this new company. That exciting stage where you are determining the business scope and value proposition (how you will meet market needs and yet be different from everything else out there); evaluating how much money you will need to launch; and telling yourself every few minutes “Don’t chicken out!”.

I have been here before. A number of times. More times than I want to think about. A hundred different business ideas have been discussed in my life, and yet I am still working my way higher and higher up somebody else’s ladder.

But this time feels different. The idea seems right: simple and well-timed. This seems like something I can really do: my sweet-spot. This time I think it is actually going to happen.

The genesis of this company was a number of years ago with my introduction to a new colleague, Sonya Zybutz. A very funny, very driven woman who worked on my sales team at Like me, she had been a sales person in the recruitment industry for a number of years. Unlike me, she was completely no-nonsense: said what she thought of you, to hell with the sugar coating.

I liked her immediately.

We worked together for a number of years, got to know each other, became friends with each other’s spouses, and – when I changed jobs years later – we stayed in touch. Throughout this period, we talked about ideas for new companies to start together. We had the same business background, and – as different as we are – respected each other’s skill set and work ethic. We knew we wanted to start a company together. We would make a good team.

The problem was the corporate handcuffs. I was being fast-tracked through the Monster organization and they were throwing money at me (more than $1 million dollars over a 3-year period). I won Sales Person of the Year 2 years in a row and they promoted me to Managing Director of the Canadian Solution Sales team. There, I led the team to become Monster’s most successful sales team of 2006 – globally! They were grooming me to become the VP of Sales, I had everything going for me. And I LOVED my job, my boss and my colleagues… But something was missing.

I hated the corporate set-up. Being a deck-hand, as opposed to the captain of the ship. The idea of having to wait for people multiple levels above me to steer a ship in a direction that I knew it should be going in. It would take months longer than I wanted it to, if it ever happened at all! I wanted us to be market leading and – to be fair – so did the leadership of Monster. But the ship was too big and clunky. There were too many heads of departments to consider, not to mention shareholders. I had to be patient.

I am not good at being patient.

And so, when Hcareers (the #1 Hospitality and Food Service Job Board Globally) came to headhunt me for a VP of Sales role, I listened. It was a great opportunity. They let me completely run their floundering Restaurant Division, my way (2006 revenue was 20% lower than 2005 revenue). Barely any restrictions. I got to hire my own team. Develop the strategy, go to market. And – after only the first 6 months – my efforts are being extremely rewarded. I have built a great field sales team, and my telesales team is starting to round into shape (still much to do in both areas, but the difference is night and day). Our revenues have grown 307% year-over-year already! And you know what: I love my job and my team. I even like my boss! But I still am not fulfilled.

I go out there day after day. Miami; LA; Dallas; Toronto; New York; Nashville… I meet with some of the biggest employers in the world and help them develop innovative online recruitment strategies that work. I teach new sales people how to make a living, and experienced sales people how to be world-class. I create new products, develop infrastructure… I work my butt off and they pay me well.

But it is their company. Not mine.

I look at people who start their own company with envy: are they more entreprenurial than I? Even a person who owns their own flower-shop or hairdressers – people who may struggle to make ends meet – make me jealous! It is not about the money (although I certainly expect the money to be there), it is about the dream of being my own boss.

And so, Sonya and I are determined to take matters into our own hands.

We are going to create a recruitment company that connects quality sales professionals with good sales opportunities. Help the company and candidate work out a win/win compensation package and relationship. Specialize in the things we know best: sales, networking and recruitment.

Official launch date: October 1, 2007 (Why 6-months away? I really want to get Hcareers’ on the right track to success before I leave. Is that respect or procrastination? I hope the first and fear the second).

Lots to do before than: develop the infrastructure and finalize a company name (we have an idea: Coast Recruiting. I like it sometimes: sounds very professional and wide in scope. I don’t like it sometimes: sounds generic and unfocused).

But the ball is rolling. I hope I like my boss!