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The Resilient Recruiter

Jan 7, 2020

Starting a recruitment agency is a daunting task - one that my guest on this episode warns is not for everyone. The hard work required and the agony of the ups and downs can only be endured when you are deeply committed to building something worthwhile, can manage your time wisely, and keep your head when you inevitably lose deals you worked hard to cultivate and were counting on. He says it’s simply how the recruiting industry works.

But in spite of those kinds of setbacks, Justin Satterfield has built Norwood Staffing Solutions from the ground up and has been able to reach the $1M revenue mark in less than two years.

Join me for this engaging conversation. Justin shares the story of how he was fired from his previous recruitment position for unsubstantiated reasons, how he started his company from scratch, his team-building philosophy, how he learned that the way he perceives the challenges he faces dictates how he handles them, and more.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:23] Get acquainted with Justin Satterfield - on the road to $1M in net income
  • [3:30] The benefits of establishing a public speaking platform
  • [8:28] Why reputation matters immensely in the recruitment world
  • [10:08] How being treated unfairly at his company led him to start his own
  • [16:31] What is resilience, and why is it so important for recruiters?
  • [18:47] The first 12 months of starting a recruitment agency
  • [21:30[ Things done right and wrong in that first 12 months
  • [24:02] Making decisions to deselect certain activities
  • [29:43] How building a team enabled Justin to turn a huge corner
  • [37:38] Future plans for Norwood Staffing Solutions

Justin knew being fired was the best thing that had ever happened to him

Straight out of college Justin got a job at a startup staffing company, thinking that he’d plug away at the role until he could find something he was more interested in. But he was a quick study and within 2 years he was number 22 in production out of over 600 producers. He was doing well, clearing $200K annually and had developed a great book of business. That’s when the unthinkable happened. He was called into a room and fired.

Why? The team was behind budget and the only remedy was to let someone on the team go. The person in charge at the time decided that Justin was the one who needed to be let go - and promptly took over his book of business. Justin was left in a personally difficult situation. He had signed a 12 month non-compete and admits that he didn’t want to honor it due to the way he was fired. Legal counsel told him that he was likely to win if he took his employer to court but he couldn’t afford the legal fees required to see it through.

So he honored the agreement - and spent the year off improving himself so that in the future, his hard work would be to build something for himself, not a corporation or boss. Today, he sees the loss of his position as the best thing that had ever happened to him because of how it set him up to start his own firm and forced him to prepare himself for that task.

The painful first 12 months of starting his own recruiting agency

A one-man recruitment agency is a grueling endeavor. The founder is the entire recruitment department and the only salesperson on staff - and both of those are full-time jobs upon which the success of the business depends. During the 12 months he was waiting to start his company Justin made the most of the time by developing himself as a leader. He knew he needed to be the best version of himself that he could be if he was going to build and lead a successful company.

Once he was able to get started, his company gained traction quickly. He successfully spun the relationships he already had into big clients that helped give him an initial boost. But he soon discovered that his approach to getting the business running had set him up for the biggest mistake of that first year. Justin was spending 100% of his time doing recruitment and didn’t focus at all on sales. Then both of the large opportunities he’d been counting on fell through. He learned that he should have been allocating time to sales every day in order to keep leads coming in.

The “Do Something” principle served Justin well

“If you don’t have that underlying, full-on confidence, knowing that you can get it done, I would advise against starting a company.” That’s one of Justin’s gems of advice after getting through his first year. He says that you have to develop a tenacious belief that success is not optional. You must be committed to winning no matter what comes. He learned to focus his time on the things that he COULD do rather than looking at the problems.

That is what led him to the “Do Something” principle. Justin explains it this way…

“People are always looking for motivation on a daily basis. That is a backwards way to look at motivation. You take action. No matter how you feel, you take action. Not when you feel like it. Every single day you act. Action leads to results and results give you motivation. You don’t seek motivation to take action to get results - no, the motivation is a by-product. If you want motivation, close some deals.”

This “Do Something” principle has enabled Justin to work hard, land deals, and overcome the struggle required to build his recruitment agency.

Adding talented people to your team trumps the financial challenge of doing it

When Justin was burning the candle at both ends to keep his fledgling recruitment agency afloat he didn’t have the money to bring on team members. It would have been easy to say, “Uhhhh, no. Not yet,” when it came to adding team members - but two opportunities crossed his path that he couldn’t say “No” to. One was an outstanding recruiter he knew previously who got laid off from her company. Justin knew she was a producer and recognized the value she’d bring to his company, so he hired her. Shortly after that, a salesperson he’d been talking to about a possible position with his company in the future, called and said she was fed up with her current position and was quitting. Justin decided to make it work because he didn’t want to lose the opportunity to hire such an effective salesperson.

The timing will never be right to hire and Justin says if you want to grow quickly you will have to take some risk. It’s about the people you take on, not the timing. In his words, “If you get the opportunity to bring on someone who is talented, do it - and do what you need to do to make it work.”

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