As a business leader in the consultative professional services industry, my bread and butter is in providing strategic counsel to others. But what about my own story? How did I come to understand the problems inherent in the traditional recruiting industry? I hope the lessons I’ve learned along the way can help you along yours!
In 2015, four years into leading HireBetter, things looked great from the outside. We averaged 47 percent annual growth, we had built a solid brand, and we were Platinum sponsors of the YPO (Young President’s Organization) Global Leadership Conference.
But while we were doing good work and building a solid brand, we weren’t ready for the next level. We were struggling operationally. After some good advice and some soul-searching, we decided that the time was right to bring on an operating partner.
Let me offer a word of advice based on my experience: Don’t let your team take over the hiring process for this key role. This is your hire! You may want to ask an advisor or mentor to help you screen qualified candidates, but don’t let your team scare off the good candidates or only let the C-players through. Your team will not want anyone to upset the status quo, and they will definitely not like the truly good ones. Nothing against your team; it is human nature! Their resistance is probably not intentional!
Once you identify the right candidate, date them, court them. Get to know them well. Get deep, whiteboard ideas and concepts together, see how you work with each other. You need to trust each other and develop a relationship. What happens when you disagree?
After an intensive search, we found an operational leader who came on to both partner with me and to challenge me – even getting in my grill sometimes. She had wisdom and experience, and I knew enough to get the hell out of the way. We’re here to build a company, not to inflate Kurt’s ego.
In the first 90 days, she got to know our organization, our clients, our people, our assets, our liabilities. Then, over the course of the next year, we worked to streamline operations and reduce overhead – proving out our business model. We maintained a rigorous focus on key initiatives and metrics. The results were a significant improvement in profitability (from roughly break-even to 20-plus percent to the bottom line)!
With the turnaround complete, we began the process of building the organization for growth and scale. We began the dating process again – this time looking for a President to take over running the company.
You see, I’ve learned where my strengths are and where I struggle. I know that I need operational support so that I have the space to be more outward-facing. My strengths lie in providing strategic guidance to clients and candidates – helping them solve their challenges. There are people who are much better than me at running the company day-to-day. And I’m okay with that!
Chris Carmouche recently joined us at HireBetter, as President. He is a tremendous person and has demonstrated success leading multiple middle market companies through No Man’s Land. He’s already making an impact at HireBetter. He has been given full autonomy to take the appropriate steps to set us up for further growth.
We are building a great team and great company – and I’m having fun again!
All of us who run high-growth companies deal with similar entrepreneurial challenges. And talent may be the key to your success. It’s amazing what you can accomplish by adding proven talent to your team; leveraging the experiences, the Rolodexes, and the lessons learned of folks who have done it before.
So that’s the HireBetter story, up until now. I'll keep you in the loop as I continue my journey. I hope my real-life case study helps to show you what a difference the right person in the right role can make to your company's bottom line.
Advice Works is a blog series of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce where members share their wisdom on navigating the business climate of Central Texas.
This month's segment was provided by Kurt Wilkin, Chief Executive Officer of HireBetter.
Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.