My how time flies!
I started this job-posting website 20 years ago, but it was 10 years ago this week when I took the biggest professional risk of my life: I quit my job to turn my ‘hobby’ into a full time business.
I was 42-years-old and was working as the Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Advertising at a company that I had been recruited to three years earlier. The company was paying me a ridiculous amount of money, but I was simply not happy. The job was boring. My department’s budget was regularly cut and I wasn’t being given the support by the leadership team in Europe to accomplish the goals I’d set for our American headquarters.
I’d also gone through a lot of personal transition in a short period of time. A divorce. The death of my mother. It had given me a lot to think about in terms of my future and in terms of the dreams I had for myself moving forward.
Ten years earlier, in 1998, I had created a weekly email subscription list called PR Jobs List. Every Monday, I would email out the latest and greatest local jobs from Colorado’s PR/Marketing and Advertising world to a small list of a couple hundred local professionals. Over time, PR Jobs List had developed a national cult following of both job seekers looking for work in Colorado as well as Colorado employers posting jobs. Hundreds of followers turned into thousands of devotees.
Ultimately, I complemented the email newsletter with a full-grown, automated website called Andrew Hudson’s Jobs and by 2008 the website had millions of visitors and the weekly newsletter had over 15,000 weekly subscribers. This ‘hobby’ had remained free to both job seekers and employers alike. Could I make money from this? Could the time and effort I’d put into this ‘hobby’ be translated into a full-time business?
I decided to try.
I did a full re-branding treatment of the website. I made it look more professional and added more categories. I did simple competitive research to decide on pricing and developed a business plan to determine how much revenue it would take to replace my salary and to run the business.
My plan was this: I was going to give the new ‘pay-for’ site 3 months before making any decisions about leaving my job and dedicating all of my skills, talent and expertise into the new site.
In the Summer of 2008, I let employers know that starting the 3rd week of August, it would now cost to post jobs. It would remain free for job seekers to view and apply for the open jobs.
On August 21, 2008, I flipped the switch. The response was overwhelming. The number of jobs being posted doubled, and I was getting paid to post the jobs! 3 DAYS – not months – later, I quit my job and have been running Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List ever since.
AH Jobs List Since 1998:
* 500,000+ Jobs Posted
* 1,000,000+ Job Seekers
* 35,000+ Subscribers to the twice-weekly newsletter
* $200,000 donated to local nonprofits
I had never been an entrepreneur before in my life and I learned a lot of lessons. Here are a few of them:
1.) Never, ever, ever be afraid to charge for something that has value. For employers, finding a way to access talented, local professionals to apply for their jobs was incredibly valuable! Unlike posting a job on the Monster.coms of the world, where they’d receive hundreds of resumes from around the country, on AH Jobs List, they were easily accessing the best LOCAL professionals.
2.) A price tag adds credibility. Adding a price tag to the job postings turned my 10-year-old hobby into a credible business – immediately! Think of it this way: a friend of mine had an old couch. He put it on his driveway with a big sign “FREE COUCH!” It sat there for 2 weeks. He changed the sign to say “Vintage Couch, $75!” It was stolen the first night. I had built the value of my site through 10 years of sweat equity. But I talk to so many entrepreneurs who are afraid of charging for their services/products, etc. Fear doesn’t pay the bills. Know your value and be unapologetic and unafraid to charge for it.
3.) Take advice, but ultimately, listen to your authentic inner-voices. I talked to a lot of people who thought my plan was too risky. They didn’t think that employers would pay to post jobs on the site. This type of negative feedback was not helpful. It is important to maintain your confidence and not be overwhelmed with the ‘what ifs??’ Ultimately, it was wife, Christine Marquez-Hudson, the smartest strategic visionary I know, who helped keep me centered and confident and helped me plot out my vision and plan to achieving success.
4.) Don’t succumb to the ‘wrong worries.’ Find a path that allows you to run the business using your most important and critical talents. I was worried because I wasn’t a bookkeeper so I hired a bookkeeper for a small fee. I was worried about all the accounting and business tax rules so I hired an accountant for a small fee. Starting a business is easy. Running it is where the challenge (and fun) kicks in!
5.) Always concentrate on your brand. Your brand is not your logo or your cute tag-line. Your brand is in the consistent delivery of what your business promises to do. In my case, my promise is to connect the best local professionals with local employers. Every day, I work hard to build new audiences of job seekers and as a result, 90% of my first-time job-posters become regular job posting clients.
Thanks to everyone for their support over the years. Every day, I’m proud and honored to be a trusted partner to help both the job seekers who are navigating their careers and to the recruiters and HR professionals who are actively seeking great professional talent to fill their jobs.