Can Your Company Withstand a Crisis?

After three decades in business, I've honed in on these five skills to build a profitable and lasting enterprise.

learn more about Kathleen Duffy

By Kathleen Duffy • Mar 16, 2021

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As my recruitment firm reaches its 30-year milestone, I realize I am one of the lucky ones. Turning an enterprising idea into a profitable venture with staying power is no small feat, and I've had my share of challenges along the way. But thanks to the advice from other successful owners and learning from my own mistakes, I've been able to grow despite the obstacles.

Whether you looking to start up or already have an existing business, here are five tips to ensure your success:

1. Find your niche

The premise of every successful startup is to do something different or better. But don't stop there. Keep perfecting your idea so that you become the leader in your industry. When drafting my firm's business plan, I realized there was only one recruitment model based on the compensation variable. I set out to do something different, and brought a new recruitment model to the market. By setting up a unique model to find and court candidates, my business was able to serve our clients as well as carve a niche within the field.

Related: 3 Steps To Find Your Niche & Flourish

2. Invest in the best people

One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs have is finding others who share their passion. It starts by hiring good people, but continues as you groom employees for positions of greater responsibility. This process brings out the "intrepreneur" within leaders and charts a path for their growth and development.

Think about ways beyond salary to invest in your employees. As a primary caregiver and breadwinner, I wanted to build a company with a commitment to a work-life balance, and found other professionals who shared this goal. Communicate openly and honestly by in ways that build trust and respect, like sharing the company's financials, and create plenty of employee perks.

3. Build and leverage your network

It's not enough to have a great idea. As self-starters, we must find ways to spread the word — and that's where your network comes in. Don't be afraid to call on others to lend a hand. You'll be surprised at how willing they are to help.

Related: Building the Right Network for Your Business

4. Weather the storm

Despite the freedom and ability to stretch your thinking that comes with becoming your own boss, problems can test your management prowess. This has been one of my biggest takeaways when the events surrounding 9/11 threatened my firm's existence despite several years of consistent growth. As a response, my team created a plan to recruit essential workers in tandem with the American Red Cross, and we managed to recruit trained 100-plus workers in 100 days. That experience gave us the tools to navigate future crises by developing a smart plan of action. Led by the mantra "We're all in this together," our team talks regularly and candidly about the challenges ahead and how we can confront them.

5. Give back

As a startup or small business, you might think the opportunities to give back to the community are limited. In reality, there's unlimited potential. Consider how you can lend your expertise to professional and business groups, or how you might rally your team around a meaningful cause. Doing so is not only good for business, but also boosts morale.

Related: 3 Ways to Give Back That Don't Require a Financial Investment

Kathleen Duffy

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

President and CEO

Kathleen Duffy is CEO of Duffy Group, a global recruitment firm that helps people find joy in their work. She was among the first in the nation to lead an entirely remote workforce. Kathleen balances her CEO duties helping other small business owners and women secure corporate leadership roles.

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