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The Pros and Cons of Running a Business on Your Own. Belinda Eden Opens Up on Life as a Solo Entrepreneur.
By Lauren Fowkes
Welcome back to the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about the secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
Hospitality is one of the biggest industries with new businesses and events popping up constantly, Belinda Eden is working on bridging the gap between employers and job seekers. Belinda is the solo founder of Troop Employment, an agency built for the purpose of helping businesses in hospitality connect directly with active job seekers in regional Victoria. Troop Employment now has a portal that provides business owners with a search application recommending staff based on availabilities, location, qualifications and experience, making finding staff even easier. Belinda has been a part of Runway’s Accelerator Program in both Ballarat and Geelong and has found the experience to be rewarding and eye-opening on life as a business owner.
We hoped Belinda’s experience and insight will provide our regional readers some inspiration and advice on setting up their own businesses. Belinda shares her biggest achievements, smallest wins and the challenges she faces as she braces the world of solo entrepreneurship.
About Troop Employment
Troop Employment is a recruitment agency that specialises in a better process for job seekers and businesses in hospitality to find each other. With the new online portal, job seekers can make profiles outlining what they have experience in and are looking for and then businesses are able to filter through and find the staff they need. Troop Employment can be used to find permanent staff, or staff for a quick fill-in when someone is on leave. Job seekers can lay out their availabilities, whether it be weekend only work or evening only work, they can specify their needs. It works for semi-retired people who might want to work in a winery for a week or help out at a local event that’s coming up, it’s completely tailored to your requirements. Businesses can read reviews from their past places of employment and it is direct to the person. No middleman!
Troop Employment is a membership platform, and anyone can sign up. For businesses there is a subscription fee that provides you 24/7 unlimited access to local staff profiles on their smart phones and computers. Job seekers can create profiles for free and be contacted directly by potential employers who want them!
The Hardest Part About Doing It Solo
Being a business owner is hard work, and even more so when you’re the doing it alone. Belinda is the solo founder of Troop Employment and she knows the difficulties that comes with this. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the tasks you know you must get done, but there are easy ways to take a step back and keep yourself grounded. Belinda participated in Runway’s Accelerator Program and has learned a lot from the seminars and classes we put on, and one of the most important things she learned was the ‘Brain Dump’. Les Watson gave the advice to get everything down, write it on paper or type it up but get it out of your head. It’s a lot easier to keep track of what needs going and what needs to be done when you can see it physically in front of you. Belinda loves lists, and in practising this method she found that most of the items on her lists would be 5-minute jobs and every seemed a lot less daunting once she had a plan. Once it’s in a list type format and you can begin checking things off, you will really be able to see how much you have accomplished and how long it took you. Belinda found that this was the most effective way in making sure she didn’t get too overwhelmed doing this on her own.
It’s important to make sure you take some time for yourself, and Belinda cannot stress this enough. It’s not wrong to feel anxious and dazed, and so it’s okay if you need to take a break. It’s not necessary to live and breathe business every minute of every day, and Belinda makes sure that she takes time to still work on the other important aspects of her life. Keeping up relationships with the people around you, even if it’s just a coffee catch up, will help keep you positive and motivated. Take the time to relax, don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it because you can’t take care of your business if you’re not taking care of yourself. Your attitude and passion is what will drive you and help you overcome the difficult and stressful moments, don’t let it overwhelm you.
Doing it solo means you have to wear every hat, so self-education is important. Belinda ensured that she absorbs as much knowledge and information as she can, because it helps her continue to develop her business.
The Importance of Networking
Belinda goes to a lot of meetings and events designed to help you connect with other people in the industry, so we asked her for some attendance tips. These events are going to be your best source of information even if you haven’t started your business yet and just want to get a feel for the culture. Belinda gained a lot of her support and success through networking, making some of the best connections she could have for her business. From the Runway Accelerator Program alone Belinda has made wonderful connections with Julie Parker and Les Watson as well as many other invaluable contacts. It’s important to use the people around you and those that you aren’t directly related to as well to learn from and you will have a better understanding of the space.
Through networking we can support each other, and this is one of the most important and rewarding avenues of business for Belinda. When attending such events, Belinda has provided some insight on how to get the best out of them. When you arrive, seek out somebody standing on their own, they may be brand new to this or they may be a strong contact. Belinda presented herself to a lady named Zoe when attending a recent event, and she had yet to start her business, so this was her first event. Belinda helped her network and introduced her to invaluable contacts that were then able to help her get her own business going. Even if you’re the sole founder of your business, you can still gain support from others that is priceless in ensuring your success.
Small Wins and Big Achievements
Belinda admits she has flaws, as does everyone, and as such she knows you cannot be perfect. She advises against getting lost on aiming for perfection because if you do, you won’t take the step out the door and really get your business growing. Upon accepting that Belinda was able to push herself in the right direction and get the ball rolling. When you’re doing it yourself you have to motivate yourself, no one else is there to help you take that step so you just need to jump in and do it! The small wins are important, and you’ll only find them once you really start diving in. Belinda had the opportunity to explain the idea for her platform to people in the field that she had a high regard for, and they were excited. Belinda says, it’s doesn’t need to be a financial commitment from them, just acknowledgement that they know you’re there, that they see you and they think you’re doing a good job. It’s some of the most rewarding validation, and that’s what will continue to motivate and inspire you.
Believing in herself is Belinda’s biggest achievement. It doesn’t matter how excellent someone else thinks you are if you don’t believe it yourself. Belinda has since been on the radio twice, the newspapers four times and the national news three times for her efforts with Troop Employment and connecting employers with hospitality staff. The milestones have been amazing for her, and since laughing the new online portal in only January she already has over 100 job seekers on the platform.
Learning from Her Challenges
Belinda’s biggest challenge was learning to put up boundaries, not for herself, but for other people. There are people and businesses who will try to take advantage of a start-up, and Belinda learned this the hard way. Her platform connects businesses with staff, and there have been instances when a business she reached out to would use her to get a staff member, but she didn’t receive anything back from it. She learned it was important to set up limits to ensure she wasn’t giving away her work for nothing. There are some people who just want to get information, and there’s no back and forth or relationship built, she learned. Belinda advises to set time for these things, and if you feel like someone is just trying to get something out of you without giving back, just give them fifteen minutes. Your time is important, so don’t waste it on those who aren’t going to support you somehow. Make sure you’re getting input from the people you are meeting with, so set boundaries for what you will and won’t tolerate.
What Can You Do?
Belinda wants to encourage regional and remote Victorians who want a career change into hospitality or are struggling to find employment to jump onto Troop Employment and find the perfect opportunity. Regional Victoria is always crying out for staff and they cannot get enough, so you can help Belinda help them by signing up.
She also wants to inspire established business owners who attend or host networking events to help those you see that are looking lost or unsure. Be their guiding hand and support one another. There are a lot of online groups for networking as well, and Belinda strongly suggests for remote and regional business owners to jump into the Facebook groups and online networks such as Runway Virtual to promote yourself and find the help you need.
To Sign Up to Troop Employment or Contact Belinda Use These Avenues: