It’s Female Founder Friday, and I’m happy to introduce you to Briana McCullough; the 26 year old woman entrepreneur behind Summer Fields Consulting, LLC. Her company is a millennial-owned healthcare recruiting company that specializes in placing nurse professionals, ranging from staff level to directors, into medical facilities across the nation. Operating in a virtual capacity, Summer Fields Consulting employs state-of-the-art technological methods to assist with identifying qualified nurses to fulfill their clients’ needs. They have also developed a strong pipeline of nurses with a wide array of expertise and specialties who are ready to fill open positions on demand.
So, if you’re curious how a young woman built a powerhouse business to fill a need in the market, and what her best business hacks for female founders are… don’t miss Briana’s answers and advice below!
What inspired you to create your company?
Growing up, it was my parents who constantly pushed me to never work for anyone else the rest of my life, so entrepreneurship was always going to be end game. My mom planted in me the idea of going into human resources, and through researching different HR specialties, recruiting seemed most aligned with the skills I had already possessed. Through my research, I identified a dire national issue within the healthcare industry that I wanted to try my hand at solving. As 10,000 of our baby boomers turn 65 each day, medical facilities across the United States are faced with a nursing shortage that inhibits them from being able to meet the around-the-clock demands that their patients require. I then created my company with the intention of helping to close this nursing gap. Aside from my amazingly supportive family, I derive a lot of my inspiration from these nurses that I recruit, as they are the ones that help keep Summer Fields Consulting running!
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
If I could identify an obstacle that stood out during this process, it was the intimidation that came with having to compete against recruiters who had been doing this for 30+ years. With the market being so heavily saturated, I began my journey with zero experience, making the learning curve pretty brutal. I was regularly told that I had to “work a 9-5 for two to three years to learn the ropes”, and that this method was the ONLY way to win. Not to mention, with the help of unscrupulous recruiters that have gone before me, candidates tend to run for the hills when I introduce myself as a recruiting professional. To overcome those obstacles, I made the decision to define my own method for becoming successful, and that method did not include doing what everyone else had to do to get there. I got my start by studying the industry, speaking to experts, learning different recruiting strategies, and, with the help of my dad, sharpening sales skills that I was never even aware I had until I actually became an entrepreneur. And, most importantly, I made the pledge to always recruit with integrity, a firm value on which my company stands. Having a clear, defined value system for your business attracts customers just as much as having a great product or service!
A failure that I became acquainted with early on in my journey was hearing plenty of “I’m not interested” responses from potential clients before landing the one contract that catapulted my career. It isn’t easy trying to get clients to see your company’s worth through your own lens. Pitching my services while my business was still in its infancy felt like a constant dead end because they just weren’t envisioning the same potential I knew my company contained. But, it was through good old fashioned diligence and not accepting those no’s as defeat that enabled me to land my first national contract in a matter of a few days!
What are you afraid of?
Becoming obsolete. The recruiting industry is extremely crowded and it’s almost like I’m in a never-ending battle to maintain relevance. The thought of not doing enough to keep my clients and candidates’ attention and ultimately losing out on business is quite terrifying. Thankfully, I’ve discovered a way to avoid this: be memorable from the very start! I’ve learned that when entering the market brand-spanking new, you MUST come out of the gate with your guns blazing so that your target audience can’t help but want to learn more from you. It’s so important to set the standard as high as possible and keep that same momentum all throughout your entrepreneurial journey!
The future of Summer Fields Consulting depends on the partnerships that we are building with different medical systems across the country. We’ve developed and nurtured a strong pipeline of experienced nurse professionals who are eager to get out there and demonstrate quality patient care, so we are always exploring facilities who has current staffing needs. Similarly, I am expanding on my current team of highly motivated healthcare recruiters by seeking out those who are interested in representing Summer Fields Consulting with the same vision and value upon which it was initially created.
Also, I’m a huge fan of the idea of having multiple streams of income. I’m currently in the early stages of branching out into other markets, so definitely keep an eye out for all the exciting new things my team and I come up with!
Finally, as my success continues to grow as a 26-year-old CEO, I am building a personal brand that allows me to pour into other aspiring millennial entrepreneurs who has an amazing idea for a business, but also has reservations that hinders them from taking that leap. My brand is being created as a means to encourage, inspire, and reassure young business-owning hopefuls that if a newbie with no experience like myself can scale a national company from the ground up, then so can you!
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Outsourcing should be every female entrepreneur’s BFF. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be superwoman with every aspect of your business to be able to run a successful company. It’s perfectly okay to not be great at everything! This is especially true for women, as society perpetually forces us to be perfect in every single area of our lives. The key is to outsource your weaknesses so that you can focus on what you are great at. Does marketing have you flustered? Terrified of approaching new clients? Is the work just getting to be too much to handle by yourself? Outsource it, honey!
If you had a theme song what would it be?
Without a doubt, I’d have to choose “Bad,” by the late great Michael Jackson. The overall theme of this song is having the confidence to stare adversity right in the eye and really fight back! With all the valleys that my entrepreneurial journey has seen, I’ve also experienced so many beautiful accomplishments at a young age that seriously makes me feel so unstoppable. As female business owners, we get rejected, looked down upon, and belittled more often than we can count. It takes true courage to stand up against those naysayers and show the world what you and your business are really about. MJ also says in this song, “your talk is cheap”. Don’t exert too much energy trying to convince others that your product or service is one of a kind. The idea is to show them who’s bad!
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
I chose entrepreneurship. I received plenty of backlash from those “good old boy” networks, warning me to wait a few years or stick with a 9-5 due to my lack of experience. Do you think I let any of that keep me from my true destiny as a CEO? Absolutely not. The world makes it so incredibly easy to become discouraged from pursuing those silly ideas in the back of our heads that just might turn into a profitable business. Here’s what it all boils down to: don’t allow something like your gender dissuade you from bringing that product or service idea to the market. There is plenty of room for all of us, so get out there and get to work! Every last one of you beautiful souls can do this, and as long as we keep allowing others to tell us we shouldn’t, we’re never going to realize the value that we were designed to bring into the world. Figure out what ignites your creativity, what keeps you awake at night and excited to jump out of bed for in the morning, and build that dream business, doll!