What I'm learning this month - July 2018

This is my journal. It’s a learnings celebration for a first time CEO as I build and grow our small but mighty HR and recruitment services company (we work with purpose driven companies to attract, hire, and retain great people!). This is not a rant, it’s a reminder for me to lean into this process, to enjoy every moment, both the great ones and the hair pulling ones. It’s cathartic and an odd form of stress relief and it's fun sharing our growth journey, challenges and all, with our awesome community. There’s something about writing out my thoughts that serves to bring me back into flow - where all I can do is sit back (with this giant glass of red wine I’m currently enjoying on this Friday night) and laugh lightly and be grateful for where I’ve been and where I’m going with this incredible team of ours.

My Squarespace website I lovingly created last year is about to renew. That means I’ve had a real website for almost 365 days. It probably took me an extra year before that to get up enough courage to stop dreaming and just do it. Employee life feels like a very long time ago. A structured 9-5 day feels like a thing of the past and I don’t think I could ever go back.

A structured 9-5 day feels like a thing of the past and I don’t think I could ever go back
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My day today: Spent at one of my favourite clients, meeting with their team for 1-1 pulse checks, touching base with their new managers who have just doubled their team sizes, reviewing resumes, scouring LinkedIn. Then, checking with my Beacon team member to see how her meeting went with one of our new prospective clients - she nailed it. Then, going to the bank to open a line of credit, because cash flow is a real thing and I don’t want to feel the stress I felt a couple weeks ago so acutely again. (I just loved learning that the bank wanted to hold our biggest check yet for 5 business days over a long weekend!). Then, sending a status report to one client, booking a final business development meeting with another prospect, and finally attempting to create a business case template we can use for marketing and sales. *Google is my best friend*.

So many new skills to be acquired! I’m still honing my ability to analyze a P&L statement. I’m either still disengaged towards the whole concept of accounting or I’m deciding to focus on the pieces of business operation I love…. I have a feeling it’s the latter. I’ve just plugged in a weekly recurring calendar invite to force myself to sit down and go through the health of our business on the regular, because I so deeply care about how healthy we are. I want to get so good at the numbers it hurts, then when I master it I'll hire a bookkeeper and outsource. That's my rule, learn it first then outsource where possible. 

I’m learning how to lead a remote team. This has been fascinating. We’re finding the balance between face to face time as an internal team, client facing time, and remote work. We’re also navigating between our client’s Slack channels, email accounts, and our own lines of communication. We’re loving ‘HQ Wednesdays’ where we get together and work out of Beacon headquarters AKA my 442 square foot apartment downtown. Yes, you heard me correctly, 442. I have a hunch that we’re going to become exceptional communicators with each other as a result of our structure, I can see it happening already but time will tell for sure.

Sales, oh sales. The last time I was in a sales job was 2013 where I had a quota for weekly cold calls. We’re lucky, our business has grown almost entirely through word of mouth or through our existing professional network, many of whom keep us top of mind through LinkedIn. I still have the cold call prospect list ready to go just in case but I’m very happy not to use it. Sales feels so different this time. Everything’s clicking now that we frame everything through a lens of service to the customer. It's a paradigm shift that feels like such a no brainer, but is surprisingly not one that I was taught back in my staffing agency days. It’s so fun to be able to provide a great service that really helps people. It shifts what we do from a job and turns it into a greater offering to the world. 

We have so much flexibility as a young company that we get to play around with how we want to structure deals with new clients and come up with something win/win for that particular company depending on their needs and exactly where they’re at. We won three new clients this month and our very first retained fee deal *I’m very proud of our awesome team woot!

I’m learning what it takes to run and grow a successful business. It turns out, it’s a full time job. Okay, it’s like three full time jobs, but luckily it’s often fuelled by a great commitment to a mission and desire to build something bigger than ourselves. We’re getting to solve real problems for companies, shake up the industry, experiment with new approaches and our team is having SO much fun doing it. We welcomed our fifth team member this month and I couldn’t be more excited to bring her into our journey because oh baby we are about to make some major waves.

Here's the best part - while every day I'm learning an insane amount about business operations (and the learning curve is steep), I'm proud that we're nailing our client work. As I'm pulling together my first one year reports for Beacon's earliest clients, I'm looking at the badass results we've been able to deliver since Day 1, and all of a sudden, the bookkeeping doesn't seem so bad after all. 

Nicole DavidsonComment