By Chris Tomlinson
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Carla Lane on how she ended up buying the staffing agency she was working for back in 2007. Since that time, Lane has grown the company exponentially. Along with that success, she is determined to give back. Her nonprofit, “This Woman’s Work” specifically helps women in the job market.
Carla Lane knew exactly what she was getting into when she bought her staffing agency in 2007.
She’d worked for the family-run business since her sophomore year at the University of Houston, working her way up from payroll clerk to vice president for accounting and finance.
Since then, she’s built Lane Staffing into a company filling more than 1,100 temporary jobs annually in 15 states and generating $20 million to $25 million a year in revenue. Among her clients are cities, government entities, utilities, oil and gas companies and Fortune 100 and 200 companies.
Q: Why did you take such a big risk with your savings on a company that was failing?
A: I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and own my own business. I was working in the back, so I saw the money, and I saw the possibilities. What I learned working at someone else’s small business was that your business can’t be like a piggy bank. You see millions of dollars pass through, but you have to make payroll. You have to pay taxes. That money is not yours. I’m an accountant, and part of accounting is discipline.
Q: What was the biggest challenge once you were the boss?
A: I understood the accounting, but I didn’t know the sales and marketing part of it. I had to learn the recruiting part, because in the beginning, I couldn’t afford to pay people. I thought initially I would hire salespeople and let them do their thing, and I’d just count. But I learned no one is going to sell what you love like you will. I love it because I see how important staffing is to people. It’s a way for people to get permanent employment. Approximately 45 percent of contract jobs become permanent.