Alliance Staffing – Aaron Grossman, President
Q: Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
We have had so many business challenges that we have had to overcome in our nine years of existence, that it is hard to pinpoint one for discussion. In fact, one of our challenges was featured in a Plain Dealer article back in 2009. To address a business challenge that I think would provide relevance to other business owners, I would have to say the challenge of growing your business and “getting out of the way.”
As a small business owner, it is so common for the owner to be the person driving all the sales, while managing their company. They hit the roadblock that they can only grow as much as they, the owner, can grow within their capacity.
Currently, I am part of a national entrepreneurial group, and one of the toughest challenges we face is finding other people to grow our businesses. In 2003, I was faced with that dilemma. We had been in business for two years, and we had grown to almost $5 million in revenue. At the time, the majority of production was coming from myself and my business partner. I remember thinking how I could turn my company in to a real company by having other people help make things happen. When facing this challenge, there were a couple of important things I focused on, which helped accomplish my goal.
1) Get out of the way. Most business owners want to control what is going on. They don’t want mistakes to happen, and therefore they end up getting in the way on another’s personal development. I forced myself to get out of the way and make sure I focused on coaching.
2) Mistakes are part of learning. I let people make mistakes. I let them fall on their face, if necessary. The ultimate way to learn is by doing, and that Is what I did. I let them learn.
3) Time. I made sure I had a lot of patience. I was learning just as much as they were, and I always told myself, that until I knew that I was giving them all the resources for them to be successful, I couldn’t hold them 100 percent accountable for their performance.
4) Support. In my company, my idea of leadership is in the form of support. I am here to help each and every one of my employees be the best that they can possibly be. They are not supporting me….instead I am supporting them
As a result of my focus, I now have a company where the majority of sales do not come from me directly. I also have employees that are fully vested in my company, and therefore, I don’t have to be in the office to know that Alliance is being taken care of properly.
Q: In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
I am a technology junkie and always have been. I am always interested in new and exciting things to help improve process that will ultimately lead to value for our customers. My company has usually been the first staffing agency in the country to take advantage of new tools that our staffing software comes to market with. Recently, we have been working with a staffing software provider to launch the first full front and back end staffing software on a SaaS based platform in the country. In our marketplace, I would say that most of our competition look to see how we are using technology to gain competitive advantages. As an innovator, we were the first staffing agency in the state of Ohio to be approved as a Level Two Drug Free Workplace. Over the past year, we have used to technology to create platforms for large companies, like KeyBank , to help them manage their contingent labor processes. We are also looking at tools to give our customers greater visibility into our database.
Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?
I think the greatest lesson I have learned is that in order to stay ahead of the game, I have to be a student of business for life. I am constantly learning, if anything, out of fear that someone might end up catching up or surpassing my company and what we are trying to accomplish. Learning and development never stop, and you never know how, what, where, when you might have a lifelong lesson to learn. My experiences shape who I am, and my perception helps shape the vision that my employees follow as an organization.
Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
We pay over 5,000 W2 employees annually. Most of these people are employed in Northeast Ohio. I think we play a key role in finding qualified people who have a desire to work, jobs that match their skill sets.