James Havens is the founder of James Havens Contracting, a company that focuses on helping business owners navigate the complexities of recruiting and contracting temporary staffing in various retail industries. Whether the need is long-term or short-term, James focuses his attention supporting staffing needs of small family-owned retail stores.
James Havens believes it’s not just about finding the right people, but also helping broker the right agreements for success. If he’s not personally handling the client’s needs on-site, he make sure to manage all communications and follow-up with clients.
After logging many miles across the country as a field representative for various clients in small and rural towns, James Havens knows the importance of delivering cost-effective value to this undeserved market. With encouragement from friends (and even the occasional stranger), James recently decided to build upon his experience and passion for all things Texas and start a company that truly looks to support small and local business owners looking to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity of booming growth in North Texas – for smaller towns or more established areas like McKinney.
In his free time, James Havens likes to travel, in particular taking the occasional fishing trip, and despite being in Cowboy country, is a big Houston Texans fan. James is grateful for a life full of rich experiences through his life on the road, James makes sure to find the time to unwind by a recent interest in gardening.
How did you get started?
A long career of working for small and medium sized companies as a sales and territory rep, I spent a lot of meeting with small and family owned business owners in retail.
What inspired you to start this business?
The moment that I realized that I couldn’t do more to help some of these clients than just sell them more product. Realized that sometimes what they needed wasn’t more product, but more me. That’s when I thought if I could offer them help staffing on a small scale (and not sell them product) they could be more successful at doing the things they always wanted to do, but couldn’t find the time.
How do you make money?
Fee based upon completion of a specific client engagement.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We’re just starting, so it’s a work in progress, so having other forms of income while looking to grow the business is key for me.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?
Since we are still just getting started, it’s a constant struggle. Realizing that what might not work today, could still work tomorrow, is what keeps me motivated.
How did you get your first customer?
The first customer came to me. I always had this idea, but it really was from a friend, who was also a client, that asked for a favor, that turned into a part-time business idea, that is now hopefully going to grow into something meaningful.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Trying to connect potential clients together on partnerships. Small businesses rely heavily on partnerships, both big and small, and being the middleman between someone who you’ve helped and someone you haven’t can be pretty empowering.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
How much time to invest in starting up. It’s a hard choice, especially when complacency is a barrier to inspiration. It feels like one of those things that will always keep me up at night thinking “Am I really really doing enough”, which is kind of motivating in a twisted way.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Keeping commitments to the customer. It’s easier said than done, but it works.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Probably the same reason why you see so many businesses hanging their first dollar in a frame on the wall. Honestly, it’s just finding the time to start. Kicking off a new venture is the best step of any journey.
What does the future hold for your business?
Right now, we’re committed to staying small and local. It’s natural to want more, but really learning the ropes and perfecting how we do business is our number one goal.
What are you most excited about?
Oddly, enough… when we do face the dilemma of having to either expand or say no to opportunities. I don’t know how to handle that situation when and if it happens, since we’re so focused on just doing things the right way, right now. But it’s natural to think bigger from time to time.
Aren’t you afraid of small businesses becoming obsolete?
Yes and no. Obviously, there’s tons of stories out there of big box retail stores closing, as well as the many small family-owned ones. But it’s a challenge that I think is worth pursuing.