Three Lessons From 22 Years in Staffing

159290547In many ways, the staffing industry looks quite different than it did when I founded Solving IT in 1992. It’s not too often you pause to think about how this industry has evolved. My firm recently earned two honors that made me do just that. Solving IT recently appeared on Staffing Industry Analysts’ Fastest Growing Staffing Firms list and also received a TechServe Alliance Excellence Award.

Reflecting upon these honors led me to think about Solving IT, our success and how it reflects upon the industry as a whole. I think there are some real, honest lessons here that can help newer firms, or firms just getting started, as they prepare to weather the ups and downs of this crazy, incredible industry.

Lesson 1: It really is all about the people. Of course, this is a “people” industry — but I honestly cannot stress the importance of having the right people in your organization. I decided early on that I was only going to hire people who understood my purpose and vision for Solving IT — what I wanted this company to achieve and how I was going to achieve it. Luckily, I was able to hire essential personnel who believed strongly in our mission. People with strong personal and professional ethics who would conduct themselves in a way that makes Solving IT (and myself) proud.

Another critical area of your team is independent thinking. If I didn’t listen to great ideas from my team, I wouldn’t be here 22 years later talking about awards. Honestly, bring on people who come up with new ideas or challenge old ones. People with authority who aren’t afraid to raise questions or concerns, to challenge the status quo and help your company be better. My team is empowered to make its own decisions — as long as they can rationalize them; they have the latitude to make judgment calls and decisions. I know that makes Solving IT a better company, and I truly think it makes us a better place to work too. We have an extremely low turnover rate, and every member of our team contributes to our mission. In fact, one of our employees just celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary. Thinking about that anniversary, I realized that her “relationship” with Solving IT predates even her husband!

Lesson 2: Make your clients happy. At the end of the day, none of us is here without our clients. They drive our industry, and sometimes they may want concessions or things that you didn’t expect. There are expectations that may have been unheard of in 1992; today, they are commonplace. Be malleable and understand that the industry will evolve, sometimes rapidly, sometimes more deliberately. But watch the trends and changes that occur — be wary of changes that seem too “trendy” to last, before changing your business too drastically. But also be ready to adapt and grow to other changes — your very survival depends on it.

When it comes to changes in this industry, another key point to consider is that your competitors are weathering those same rocky paths. Make the right decisions to keep your clients happy, and you should be the one who comes out ahead.

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Lesson 3: Take the time to do it right. When I think about advice I’d give to someone starting out in this industry, my first instinct is to tell them not to do it! But there’s a bit more to it — dont do it blindly. In other words, take the time to raise enough capital to help you hire the right people (those people I talk about in Lesson 1). The right amount of capital is critical to success in your first year, five years or even 10 years. Get off on the right foot, and your odds of success are much higher.

The early days are also essential for developing and honing your internal processes. Without clearly defined processes, hiring those essential employees will be a jumbled mess (also less efficiently depleting that capital you just raised). You’ll be less likely to deftly handle client requests or demands that are so critical to making and keeping them happy. Without the right processes in place, you’ll also be far less prepared to handle the ups and downs that can come with the staffing industry (and they’ll come!). Take the time to do it right in the early stages, and in a few years we’ll be reading about your awards.

The staffing industry is an exciting and dynamic place to operate a company. Here’s to the next 22 years, and to the continued growth of staffing.

MORE: Work smarter, not harder

Bert Morano

Bert Morano
Bert Morano is founder and president of Solving IT.

Bert Morano

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