This endowment samurai beats the great resignation. here’s how

Brian Abrams’ staffing consultancy should have struggled during the pandemic, with millions of employees leaving the workforce during the Great Resignation and some employers going out of business.

Abrams, 46, helps clients find the right people for their projects at PMO Partners, the IT project management consulting firm he founded in Groton, Massachusetts in 2014.

But his business really flourished. “2021 has been a banner year for PMO Partners,” he says. “2022 will be better. “

Along the way, Abrams grew what was once a one-person million dollar business to a team of three employees and 10 contractors.

Abrams is part of a trend that has gathered rocket fuel in recent years: the growth of small businesses that make big money. It’s easier than ever for ordinary people to start a successful business with a very small team of traditional employees, contractors, or a hybrid team of the two.

Thanks to an endless stream of free and inexpensive online tools, outsourced services, new digital payment options, the growth of independent hubs, the ease of social media marketing, the growth of education online through courses and masterclasses, and greater acceptance of remote work, small businesses are more efficient than in the past while needing less start-up capital.

Many Americans are taking the opportunity to make the most of these trends. From January to November, nearly 5 million new businesses were started, up 55% from the same months in 2019, according to census data.

What some of these new founders may not fully realize is how much money there is to be made in a small, midsize business. Consider this: Among the 5.3 million businesses with one to 20 employees, the average had just four employees and an annual turnover of $ 816,180, with a payroll of $ 162,755, according to the US Census Bureau statistics for 2017. (Payroll is the highest cost in many businesses, followed by real estate costs.) That leaves $ 654,425 to cover the remaining overhead and take as a profit.

Many small businesses make a lot more. If you look at the average income of companies with five to nine employees, for example, it’s $ 1.2 million, with 6.5 employees on average and a payroll of $ 252,033. That leaves about $ 950,000 to cover costs or make a profit.

Some of the categories with the highest earning and profit potential include high-end professional service companies like Abrams, as well as construction and real estate, e-commerce, financial services, manufacturing, wholesale. and transportation, based on my analysis of census data. .

But for most people who start a small business, it’s not really about the money once they cover the household expenses. It is about freedom and autonomy. Especially since the pandemic, people want to be in control of when and where they work. Few jobs offer the same freedom to do so as a small business, so like Abrams, they prefer to forge their own path to self-reliance.

That said, starting a business is different than building it at six of the seven figures of income and beyond, over a period of several years.

So how has Abrams positioned his business to succeed during one of the most difficult times in recent economic history? Here are his strategies, which apply to many industries.

Start from a solid foundation. If you’ve passed the stage where you can return to live with your loved ones if you go bankrupt, you need to manage your finances carefully before starting your business. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, starting a “side business” while working at a day job is the best way to do it.

Sometimes that can mean working really long days for a year or two. But it is not permanent. Abrams, married with two children, couldn’t stop working when he felt the urge to start his own business. When he finally resigned he did short-term consulting work before starting PMO Partners in August 2014 to continue earning money while saving commute time that he could redirect to the company. “It was a good way for me to keep making money while I was planning,” he says.

At the end of his last consultant position, he moved full time to PMO Partners. He and his wife used his salary to pay household bills while he got the business going. They had already saved $ 5,000 to cover his start-up costs, such as building a website, incorporating and setting up the right legal documents.

Take time to plan. Abrams worked on planning his business evenings and weekends for a year so he could get up and running quickly. He decided to focus on placing IT project managers because he knew other recruiting companies didn’t pay much attention to this space, which meant it would be easier to take ownership of. its niche. As he realized, the transition to running a small business is a bridge to creating a new way of working and living, which will be much more rewarding on all fronts than the average position. You might be surprised at how much energy you have when it comes to building something you love, for yourself and your loved ones, instead of going to a job that isn’t close to your heart. . Abrams’ decision to focus on project management professionals helped him reach $ 760,000 in revenue by the end of 2015 and $ 1.5 million in annual revenue by 2016.

Put it back. From the start, Abrams resisted the temptation to do it all himself and brought in professionals to handle assignments outside of his area of ​​expertise. Instead of using DIY marketing, he engaged the services of an outside marketing company that does most of his marketing and social media.

Just as he first approached $ 1 million, Abrams saw that he needed an operations manager to handle back office work, such as financial and candidate documents, and made his first hire. With his COO taking care of the tasks that kept him bogged down, he found, growth started to take off.

Stay active in your industry. Abrams considers networking a mandatory part of his business development and takes the time to do it consistently. He attends industry events such as User Groups for Project Managers, hosts a monthly webinar on a topic relevant to project management professionals, and often posts hot topics on LinkedIn in his domain.

Staying connected to his network helped him pivot during the pandemic when some of the industries he served downsized for those who needed help. For example, he hired a few clients in the food manufacturing industry and another that specializes in developing online college courses for colleges and universities. “We stayed busy,” he says. “We have been fortunate to connect with organizations that have seen a slight increase in their activities. “

He also participates in a formal recruitment network made up of a few thousand recruiters. They help each other find good candidates and complete internships in their areas of expertise, which has helped her business thrive during COVID. “If I succeed in placing these candidates, I get half the fees,” he says.

Know how much there is to learn. To continue to expand his knowledge as an entrepreneur, Abrams began to form his advisory board. “These are people I knew and trusted who could advise me on the things I was stuck on,” he says. As he discovered, the more he grows his business, the more he has to learn.

Think long term. Abrams wants the relationships he builds at his company to last a lifetime and to stay in touch with the candidates he has placed as they move from one position to another. “One of the things that makes me proud is that some of these candidates that I’ve known for years and years always think of me when they become available again,” he says. “Earlier this year, I placed a consultant who I’ve known for ten years. I had never had the opportunity to place it before, because of the timing. I finally placed it.

It all takes continued effort and an ongoing commitment to reinvest in the business, but for Abrams, it’s a small price to pay. He’s built a career where he can work on his own terms, doing what he loves and is good at. As the poet David Whyte puts it, “The antidote to burnout is sincerity. “

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