Interview with Don Charlton, Founder and CEO of The Resumator.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
The Resumator is an online recruiting platform specifically designed for small businesses with limited recruiting resources. For as little as $9 per month, we help these types of businesses save time and money on hiring by replacing the inefficiency of an HR inbox with an affordable online recruitment platform for both promoting jobs and reviewing resumes.
When did you start the business?
November 2008. Before that, I was Director of Interactive Strategy for a design agency. This is my second business.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Coming from a background in design/marketing, you get comfortable jumping into vertical markets with no understanding of them, but the expertise to learn quickly and execute. I identified the problem of managing your hiring through email, saw ways to improve the process, and decided to create a solution. The conceptualization was not from out of the blue – at my last job I spent a great deal of time sifting through resumes when I had other things to do. I was a "deputized hiring manager", hating how inefficient the process was. Bing! The idea.
What outside resources were helpful for you? Business incubators, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, etc.?
I was part of the AlphaLab program. AlphaLab is a startup program run by Innovation Works, Pittsburgh's largest economic development agency. AlphaLab not only provided the financial resources needed to get a new business off the ground, it also connected us to a wide network of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and advisors. They all are rooting for you.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
I did begin operating the business from home, but the problem with that is home is very comfortable for doing all kinds of things—not just work. You see so many distractions at home: Laundry, television, dishes, and chores. When you get an office space, the whole vibe is about your business–not your life.
Of course you save money working from home, and there are some tax benefits. I also liked the fact that I could wake up and get back the hour I used to spend getting ready to commute, and instead use it to work. Plus, I was encouraged to work longer, as I was not in an office and desiring to just be at home. But of course, suddenly you can end up working too much.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Always look for ways to decrease your burn rate. Look for cheaper hardware. Look for cheaper phone service. Look for cheaper insurance. Never buy expensive office furniture – buy cheap tables and expensive chairs. If you continually try to squeeze costs out of your operations, you can succeed.
Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?
I have hired temps or contractors, and they have been very useful. I have a blogger publishing our content. I hire developers to do very specific tasks with end dates. By using contractors, you can control costs, turning them on and off as necessary. Much better than needing to let someone go out of the blue.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
First focus on developing a great product, and then focus on sales. But you need to make sure you at some point stop developing and focus on sales. A product needs to be good enough.
It is important to know when to say when. I think a lot of our readers might benefit from The Resumator. Thanks for talking with me today, Don.