The staffing business is just like having to solve dozens of jigsaw puzzles each day. The goal is to find qualified people who are perfect fits for customers’ short- and long-term needs.
The same principle holds true for owning and operating a successful staffing business. Take Steve Strauss and Mark Roush, for example. Each had more than 20 years of experience in staffing, 13 of which had been spent as co-workers at the same Washington, DC, firm. Steve was an expert in sales, customer service and client development, while Mark’s forte was recruitment and staffing management.
Dissatisfied with the direction of their company, Steve and Mark decided to combine their complementary skills and launch their own staffing business called 4Staff. A key piece of the puzzle was missing, however—experience in planning and launching a start-up business.
That piece fell into place when Steve happened to meet an SBA employee while on vacation. “I told her about what we were planning, and she told me about SCORE,” he says. “We went to the DC chapter for advice, and were so impressed that we spent the next several months working with them.”
Steve and Mark surpassed all their first-year projections, generating a remarkable $1.4 million in sales and building strong relationships with more than 150 clients. 4Staff earned Washington, DC SCORE’s client of the year honors for 2006. They plan to take advantage of the chapter’s best practices audit. “They’ll come in and assess how we’re doing things,” Mark says. “Even though we’re off to a good start, there’s always room for improvement.”
Steve adds that they’ve also recommended SCORE to other aspiring entrepreneurs, including a client. “They helped her get through the ‘overwhelmed’ stage, and now she’s on her way to starting a business,” he says. “SCORE is an invaluable service because they help you think and rethink things through. We might have been able to get 4Staff going on our own. But working with SCORE made things happen more quickly.”
SCORE Counselors Harry Salinas, Tim Hanlon, Mimi Cutler and Howard Svigals guided and assisted Steve and Mark as they formulated 4Staff’s business and marketing plans, and the financial projections. Attending a chapter-sponsored seminar on preparing business plans proved particularly valuable
“We were given a sample plan to evaluate,” Mark recalls. “At first glance, it looked pretty good, not all that different from what we had developed. But as we studied it, we discovered more and more flaws, making us realize that we were doing our plan all wrong. Fortunately, SCORE provided templates and other materials that helped us do make a fresh start and do things right.”
SCORE also helped Steve and Mark address some unique needs, such as crafting a non-compete agreement with their former employer and choosing the best legal structure for their business. And when Steve and Mark were ready to present their business plan to the banks, SCORE’s counseling team made sure they knew what to expect.
“We’d learned that some banks won’t give a straight answer when they don’t want to lend money,” Mark says. “Sure enough, the first bank turned us down after appearing interested in our presentation. That could have been a big blow to our plans, but SCORE had advised us to simply try other banks. We soon got the funding we needed to rent office space and get 4Staff started.”