A couple of weeks ago, I’d had a particularly rough day at work, which led me to post “I’m leaving the W-2 life behind soon. Over it.” What followed was encouragement from some to dive into entrepreneurship, warnings from others, and one really interesting conversation with a friend. She’s offered me amazing perspective and guidance more than once, and that day was no different. She replied, “I haven’t heard anyone say the blood sweat and tears of creating their own takes any less time or stress or sacrifice though…so I question whether I want that either… Is the grass really greener?”
I know other people often wonder the same, so I sought out a handful of entrepreneurs to get their take. The result is a series of discussions in which we’ll get insight from young business owners in various industries, and at various stages, about their experiences in entrepreneurship.
For today’s post, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tristan Layfield of Layfield Resume Consulting. Tristan, a fellow Michigan alum, is a hiring consultant who helps people brand themselves professionally. His company creates resumes for who you want to be. Tristan started his company in early 2017, and juggles the demands of the company, with a 9-5 job as a hiring manager at a major corporation. Our conversation presented some great insight on entrepreneurship, in addition to gems that apply to our everyday life.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed.
FGF: Thank you for sitting down with me today. I’m very excited to have our first interview for the blog. Tell me about your business. What do you do, how long have you been in business, what’s your story?
T: I worked as an HR Manager at a major company for about 4.5 years. Due to the sheer size of the company, we were constantly hiring, and I would see tons of candidate resumes that could use some work. From there it became apparent that many people really don’t understand how to market themselves for the positions that they want. So that prompted my interest in getting this started. From there I started thinking about the impact that I wanted to make. I’m from Saginaw, MI. I was actually just there earlier today. And returning home, seeing how little progress and opportunity exists, and how little information there is about how to pursue better opportunities, I knew that I wanted my business to serve a greater social mission.
LRC currently offers services in four key areas: resumes, cover letters reviews, LinkedIn profile updates, and interview preparation.
Under the resume suite, we offer reviews, which consist of proofreading, light editing and suggestions on your exiting resume. Our Resume Revamp service includes a review and new formatting. Our resume builder service consists of completing an assessment, review of the client’s resume and conversations with the client that allows us to build a new resume from scratch.
What is that mission? And what is the long-term goal for LRC?
I want to establish a brand presence that will allow me to bring in people who handle the tasks that I’m managing now (the marketing, client communications and intake, performing the services, etc.) so that I can focus more on professional development workshops and training in under-served areas.
We both know a couple of people who are providing similar services in the same market. Did that ever discourage you in any way? How did you know that this was a viable business?
Initially I didn’t know that it would work. I knew the need was there, and started building the suite of services that I wanted to offer. From there I found the areas that distinguished me from others in the same industry, and found a way to market it. I was unsure about it at first, but I proved to myself that it would work.
You are currently holding down a 9-5, in addition to running the business. How do you make that work without getting anxious to leave your day job? How much time do you think you put in a typical week?
I start work on the business as soon as I get home from my job. I’d say I generally work 5 to 11 pm, sometimes as late as 1 am, plus some time on the weekend. In total, probably an additional 40 hours. It’s a lot of time, but when I work on this it’s more enjoyable than the day job, although I do really enjoy my job. The business is the thing I get to look forward to after work, so it’s a good motivator for me. I actually think the business makes me more engaged at work, because I’ve started to look at my day job as my largest client. Not only do I get referrals through work, it also helps me fund the needs of the business in between clients.
What would you say is the best thing about your journey into entrepreneurship?
I’d say the freedom you have while building something for yourself. You’re still working within a certain bounds, but things move on your own terms. If there’s an opportunity that doesn’t quite fit my values, I have the ability not to pursue it.
And the worst?
Entrepreneurship can get lonely because we’re so caught up in what we’re doing, it can seem like you’re floating alone. It can get overwhelming at times.
What flat-out scares the shit out of you about entrepreneurship?
Failure. I think we all have that fear, I’m working on easing that right now. My success hinges on the success of others, so that can add a tremendous amount of pressure. Most of us will fail, and that’s ok. As long as you learn something through it, and not let every small setback stall you. Most entrepreneurs didn’t go to business school. Most of us start with an idea and go, and work it out in the moment. So you’re learning the basics of how to run a business in the moment, when the stakes are high. But we make our mistakes and keep moving forward!
” My success hinges on the success of others.”
You said something so key right there. Have you had a client fail yet? How did you take that?
Yes. I’ve had a client not get the job, and had to make some adjustments to their resume and cover letter, and thankfully it worked out the second time around. My services come with a 60 day satisfaction and free revamp, if necessary. I try to ensure that clients are happy and feel fully supported when they work with me. It’s hard not to internalize those failures, but it’s a part of the business.
I know every business owner gets requests for free, or discounted services. How frustrating is that to deal with?
It’s not hard for me because I’m big on the word no, it’s my favorite word. (Laughs) People will find that if you work with a business owner and you’re loyal, they will help you if you can’t fully afford their services. But I am here to make money, so they should expect to pay for the service they get. I think if customers took a step back and asked themselves “should I get a discount”, they’d find the answer is no most of the time.
That said, I believe in being ethical in my business practices, so I’m not going to charge for a service that I can’t provide. I usually tell clients to send me the resume first, so I can determine if I can help them. And also, I have the 60 day satisfaction guarantee to make sure that they get what they need.
This is a money blog, so I have to ask. How’s the business doing financially? What’s your outlook for the next 3 years?
It’s doing quite modestly, but I set also modest goal. I set the goal of making $5,000 this year and I’ve already exceeded that. I didn’t even expect for it to do as well as it’s done. This year was more about proving that I could do it, and learning how to run the business. The goal is to replace my salary within the next 3 years. Also, I’ll be making adjustments to our service offerings.
The key question. I know you have one foot in corporate America and the other in entrepreneurship. From that perspective, is the grass greener on the other side?
Tough question. Yes. You’ll have virtually similar struggles, the difference is it’s yours. You set the rules. It’s very hard to be the agent of change inside of corporate America. But with the business, I feel a sense of pride, and ownership, and encouragement. When people call their business their baby, I really understand that. You really see it through from infancy to adulthood. From filing the LLC paperwork, to getting positive feedback from clients. Some things were difficult at first, but consistency breeds routine. And now those mundane things just become easy and quick.
“consistency breeds routine”
Is there anything else that you would like to share with readers?
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Sometimes we become bullies, and we need to be careful with how we talk to people about entrepreneurship. It’s not easy, and honestly, not everyone can own their own business, or else who would do the work? Who would you hire to grow your business if everyone was an entrepreneur? It takes a lot of sacrifice that just isn’t for everyone.
You can contact Tristan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on his services, visit his website layfieldresume.com.
Have you been considering taking the leap into entrepreneurship? Sound off in the comments. Are you a business owner who would like to discuss your entrepreneurship journey in future posts? Contact me if so.