• Shonleigh Draper

Being naive and ugly-crying in a carpark is the best thing that ever happened to me in business

Back in 2016 when I decided to enter (dive head first) into the real estate and property management recruitment world, I didn't really know much about recruitment other than that it was about being in the business of humans. We're 3 years down the road and for me, that's still exactly what it's about, the humans (not the flashing dollar signs on their foreheads).

I'd never been a recruiter before I started ThinkRed, i'd never worked for a big fancy recruitment agency, I was as green as they come but that didn't bother me because I was driven by something more important than being an experienced recruiter who wanted to make a tonne of cash... I really wanted to change the way people experienced being recruited. That was my north star and it was the reason I said "Yes" when my Dad approached me to go into business with him (he was the experienced recruiter). Yeah, sure, I wanted to make some money along the way so that I wasn't in deep financial pain, but I don't ever recall sitting down and doing the figures on what my financial future could look like because money wasn't the biggest driver for me. In hindsight i'm actually really glad that I didn't crunch those numbers, because I think I probably would have been paralysed by them (not sure the accountant agrees with this but anyway). Instead, I was a super naive bouncy high-energy 25 year old who threw herself "all in" without really thinking it through... and holy moly, looking back i'm so glad that's the way the cookie crumbled.

Three months into ThinkRed being launched I was sitting in the carpark of Coles Coorparoo talking to my Dad (and business partner) on the phone about how the money he initially put into the business to pay my wage and get us off the ground was about to dry up, and I was just weeks away from going on my honeymoon. It was scary, there were tears and tough conversations had and I didn't know how I was going to pay my rent and keep ThinkRed open let alone go away on my extravagant five-week honeymoon to the USA.

What i've learnt in business so far and from that exact moment in that carpark is that it's all pretty simple when you get to the nuts and bolts of it. You have a choice, you can either throw in the towel and be paralysed by the fear of failing or you can pick up the towel, wipe the sweat off your face, be scared and keep swinging anyway. So that's what I did, I was petrified of failing but I kept swinging (picking up the phone and sending Facebook messages) as if my life depended on it and I told myself that I wouldn't stop until I physically couldn't swing my arms anymore (until I couldn't pay my phone and internet bill anymore).

Between that exact moment in the carpark of feeling defeated (and ugly crying into my steering wheel) and like i'd completely failed and let everyone down in the process, and the moment I stepped foot on the plane bound for our honeymoon and trip of a lifetime, I placed my first talent in a role, then three more after that, and I got us out of the shit. And you know how I did that as a completely green 'recruiter' who had no idea what the hell she was doing? I kept taking action and I did the exact opposite of what everyone else was doing... I serviced the shit out of the talent ('candidates'), I built an online community, I reverse-marketed talent to Principals that I already knew and I worked my little toosh off, networking day and night.

We've all heard this saying before and it rings true for me every single time I hear it, "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it", and what i've experienced first-hand is that consistently doing the hard stuff and being uncomfortable in business (picking up the phone, being rejected, networking, building relationships, solving problems) is where you get the results. As my business mentor tells me week in and week out "The numbers don't lie", and it's true, they don't.

So even now when I have an off-week and it feels like it's all over red rover and I think "How the hell am I going to hit my goal this month?", I think back to the ugly-crying-naive-25-year-old in that carpark and I pick up the towel and I wipe off the sweat and I keep swinging... because i'm not going down like that.

This is me and my Dad on the 1st July 2016, officially launching ThinkRed at my dining room table