After 13 years of working in real estate, when the market crashed, I did too. I had lost my house and my few real estate investments. Being in my fifties and knowing that age discrimination really does exist, I saw that a position in the traditional workplace wasn’t going to happen for me.
I spent my days scouring the internet for “work at home” ideas until I stumbled upon healthcare recruiting. There were similarities between recruiting and real estate so I thought that this was something for which I was well-suited. I was hired (on a 50% commission-only basis) by an internet-based healthcare recruiting company.
A few years later, I made a comment to the owner that I planned on starting my own healthcare recruiting business someday. During that phone conversation, he totally shut me out of his business.
Internet Business 101
This forced me to move fast as money was scarce. I quickly registered my LLC and bought my .com name. Because this business was strictly phone and internet, the next priority was creating a logo and building a website. Though amateurish, I did it myself by learning some HTML and CSS. Getting an 800 number and a website hosting company was next.
My bank account was dwindling. Fear of the unknown set in, but I knew that I had to make this work. Less than one month after being tossed out of the old company, I was officially on the internet as a viable business.
What about SEO?
My recruiting business was up and ready to roll, but unfortunately, I was the only one who knew it. My business needed to be in the top ten of Google, Yahoo, Bing and all of the others with my keywords to ever be seen by the public. I was familiar with the term SEO (search engine optimization), but had no idea how to do it.
Again, I had to read and learn this myself because I couldn’t afford professional SEO. I had already decided what my healthcare recruiting specialty would be so I geared my keywords toward that specialty. After a whole lot of trial and error, my company was finally in the top ten.
Let’s Not Forget About Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Blogs
At this point, my company had several signed agreements and was making some money, but not enough to keep the stress away. What more could I do?
I could do a marketing campaign using social media, that’s what. I set up a business Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Linkedin business profile page and designed a blog using WordPress. I also set up a Linkedin group with my healthcare specialty in mind.
My company’s name began to get known by the right people. Now, a year later, my business has grown considerably, and my gray hairs are coming from age instead of stress.
Some Pieces of Advice
1. You know the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”? Unless your bills are screaming at you too, please start with a business plan. It’s a great roadmap that tells you where to go and when. Without one, it’s easy to get lost when there’s an unexpected turn.
2. If you don’t have much money, improvise. The internet is a wonderful world filled with all of the information you will ever need to start a business. Use these resources.
3. Take some breaks. Move around. Sitting for hours is very bad for the circulatory system and can cause blood clots. It can also be very hard on relationships. Your business is just one tool used to enhance your lifestyle; it is not your entire life!
4. Remember that the internet world doesn’t know how old you are; don’t worry about age discrimination if you’re over 50 like me. Age anonymity can be very empowering for “old birds” like us. Your valuable life experiences, hobbies and interests can translate very well into a profitable business.