The age-old mantra when it comes to starting a business dictates that you make sure you work in the industry first. But not everyone does it that way.
Matt Mosher, the 30-year-old CEO and founder of hiredMYway.com, is the exception to the rule. Mosher started the website, which connects job seekers with employers and recruiters, without any experience in the recruiting field.
"I didn't know anything about recruiting or job boards before launching this site, but I did know that I experienced frustration in my two other businesses — landscaping and maintenance — in finding the right people for the job," Mosher said. "I do have some tricks and shortcuts that I have learned over the years to make those businesses successes, and those are pretty much transferable to any area. I don't have to reinvent the wheel."
The goal of hiredMYway.com was to play a role in solving Michigan's employment crisis, as Mosher's two other businesses are in Detroit. Since then, the company has continued to grow and now has a strong presence in both Chicago and Detroit. To date, there are more than 1,500 job opportunities available on the website, the company has secured more than $3.5 million in funding (all from Midwest investors) and is on pace to double in size by the end of 2012.
Any successful business identifies a problem and provides a solution and sometimes it takes an outsider to see those clearly, Mosher said. HiredMyway.com's twist on the traditional job board is that job candidates get a guarantee their résumés will be viewed by an employer if they purchase a $5 MYtoken when applying for a position, Mosher said. Job seekers can also post their résumés for free.
"Since half the battle for job seekers is getting someone to look at their résumé, the MYtoken helps them avoid the 'black hole' many job seekers experience," he said. It also helps employers and recruiters quickly identify high-quality candidates with the skills they need, Mosher added.
For other entrepreneurs looking to launch a business in an unfamiliar field, he said it is important to quickly and completely immerse yourself in your new industry. "You're going to have to sound knowledgeable when you talk to potential clients and investors," he said. "Meet as many people as you can and read as much as you can about the industry to have a broad understanding of the field and get up to speed quickly."
You also have to surround yourself with people who have a background in your new industry, Mosher said. "You have to bring on some seasoned professionals who can help you fill in the gaps. But it is important to understand the industry prior to bringing on those seasoned professionals so that you know in what areas you need to bolster your knowledge base."
He also said that business owners forging ahead in an unfamiliar field should be prepared to counter questions from potential clients and investors. "My counter-argument is always that I am a proven entrepreneur who knows how to build a business and meet the needs of clients."
His other piece of advice is to construct segments of the business and test them so that you can quickly identify potential weaknesses and shore them up before going full-steam. "Don't be afraid to put together parts of your idea and run those past people who have experience in the industry," he said. "But one of the biggest mistakes business owners make — especially if it is an unfamiliar industry — is letting the idea sit in the lab too long."