Business Viewpoint: Journey as entrepreneur had meager beginnings
BY CAREY BAKER Business Viewspoint
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 3:17 AM
With Global Entrepreneurship week almost upon us, I can't help but reflect upon my own journey in entrepreneurship, which began almost five years ago.
Like many entrepreneurs, my idea started on a napkin. I was on a date with my husband, Brett, discussing our hopes and dreams. As a new mom, I was frustrated with the lack of flexibility in the corporate world. It was Brett who actually came up with the idea of starting a business that focused on finding jobs for people like me - professionals who needed flexibility in the workplace to balance family life and a career.
I loved the idea, and we immediately began scribbling furiously on napkins. It was the blind leading the blind, but by the end of the evening we came up with a vision that we both thought might actually work.
We jumped in feet first. I quit my job, and we got a line of credit at our bank. With a small baby at home, I realized that failure was not an option. Considering that the bank had a lien on both of our cars, we literally couldn't go anywhere if this plan didn't work.
Part Time Pros began in our home. Brett was still employed at the fire department and worked with me on his days off. I vividly remember sitting at my desk looking at a picture of my newborn daughter. I remember thinking, "This isn't about me anymore, this is about my family." It was those thoughts that kept me going in times of uncertainty.
Things were tough at first. I had to cold-call businesses to see if they would be willing to meet with me about Part Time Pros. I received many "take me off your list" responses and some hang-ups, but the few "yeses" were my encouragement. I also used Facebook and email to encourage anyone looking for work to send me their resume.
We eventually found an office space, and I'll never forget that feeling when our name got placed on the outside of the building. We were official!
But we had launched Part Time Pros in March 2008, just as the economy started to plunge, so our biggest challenges were yet to come.
Companies were not hiring, and thousands of people were being laid off. Placement firms had no role to fill in the market. However, we had come this far and weren't going to give up. That was in spite of the fact that I wasn't drawing a salary and Brett was only working part time. It was scary.
After one year, Brett's father, a retired CFO, sat down with us to review our budget. He said we could walk away debt-free if we shut it down. We were worn out, beat up and in over our head in many ways. The thought was tempting to say the least. But I'm not a quitter, so closing the business would have been a big pill to swallow.
That was also the time of the Mayor's Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards, and someone suggested that we enter. We told ourselves that if we got knocked out of the competition, it would be our breaking point and we would shut down and know we had tried our best.
We compiled an executive summary - a vast improvement over the napkin plan - and submitted it. Much to our surprise, we made it all the way to the final round of the competition.
Through the process, we were able to refine our business plan, receive great coaching and some important publicity, none of which we could have paid for at the time. We placed second in the contest and were ready to get back in the game.
Today, I'm proud to say we have one part-time and seven full-time staff members, and have placed over 1,500 people in long-term positions in the Tulsa area. Putting people to work is good for our business, the local economy and the thousands of families that we have impacted.
By all means, remember that starting your own business is not easy. Challenges will always arise. But with the hard work comes massive rewards. It has all been worth it to be the masters of our own destiny and to live the type of lives we want to live.
Original Print Headline: Journey as entrepreneur had meager beginnings
Carey Baker is founder and president of Part Time Pros.
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