Etienne Morris

President, Morris Recruiting & Consulting

When did you know you would be an entrepreneur?

An hour after I (literally) walked away from a toxic boss as she was screaming at me. Funny story: As soon as she realized I was leaving, she started screaming at me about how unprofessional it is to walk away from a conflict. Think about that for a second… Amazing. That all happened on Friday, September 27, 2012. I registered my LLC on October 1st.

Tell us all about your business.

I do some recruiting still, but what lights me up is my 1:1 client work. I provide support and tools to people to position themselves to rise within their careers by working together to discover and articulate what makes them professionally unique, developing a clear career strategy, and providing targeted support to achieve their goals. This can include document development (e.g. resume, board resume, project addendum) and strategy and support in the areas of job search, communication, networking, interviewing, and negotiation.

What was your ambition when you started?

I was solely focused on recruiting and wanted to improve the economy for Vermont and Vermonters by connecting great people with great jobs. My annual earnings goal was $60K.

What is your ambition today?

I want to scale my 1:1 work to a B2B market, streamline and automate (where it makes sense), and hire and train staff to take on some of the work I don’t need to do myself. I am particularly excited to help women rise within their communities so that we can save the world.

What is the best advice you ever got about running a business?

Identify and nurture three circles in your network: (1) your industry connections (people who provide the same or similar services as you), (2) your ideological connections (for me that’s my fellow B Corps, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, and 1% For The Planet), and (3) your business / professional connections (for me that’s eWomenNetwork, The Dames, and some key friends/colleagues).

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a business owner so far, and how did you overcome them?

One year, early on, when I was solely focused on recruiting, the market completely dried up. Hiring was happening in the world (it wasn’t 2008!), but no hiring was happening with the clients I had contracts with at the time. Many of my friends had been urging me (for years!) to monetize the coaching work I had always been doing pro-bono. Necessity being the mother of invention, I made the decision to charge for resume writing. I remember that first time when I told someone I’d be happy to help him write his resume and practically choked when I quoted him a price. I felt flushed, dizzy, sick to my stomach – gave him a 50% discount before he even responded to my price – and practically fainted when he said yes. I earned $125 for that work – and it changed my professional life. More recently, I knew that I wanted to grow my business and tried to do it myself. It was overwhelming and deeply discouraging. I decided to hire a coach (Meghann Conter) and finally my plans are starting to take shape.

I am particularly excited to help women rise within their communities so that we can save the world.

How do you define "success" for you?

My clients are empowered and confident to move forward in their career journeys, my husband is pursuing his passions without the strings of health insurance or benefits holding him down, my children are self-sufficient and happy, and I am able to contribute financially and with my time to people and causes that I care deeply about.

What is your "secret" to success?

I try to come from a place of love and caring in everything I do, every decision I make, especially when the path forward isn’t obvious or clear.

What great advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Approach networking from a giving first perspective – it feels good, it reduces networking anxiety (if you have that), and it works!

What is the best business or self-development book you recommend?

What would you choose as your "walk out" song (That is, if you don't already have one)?

Brave by Sara Bareilles