Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Seyka Mejeur, Founder of AdAstra, located in Camas, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
AdAstra is a headhunting firm for space and clean technology startups, specializing in executive and highly technical professionals.
Tell us about yourself
I studied psychology and business in school. I chose both topics because I love people and understanding how they work. Through my education in psychology, I did large amounts of research and advanced statistics as I prepared to continue my education toward a Ph.D. After collecting data for three years, I became a published academic literature author. At that point in my education, I realized that while I loved the research and analytics of psychology, I loved it BECAUSE it would lead to me working with people. The route I was planning with my Ph.D. would lead me away from people and leave me working mostly with computers and paperwork for the next 4 years. So I did some soul searching and pivoted. I gained a wonderful internship with an organization that did talent acquisition consulting for Fortune 100 companies, and my love for talent acquisition grew.
After that, I went to work internally as a Talent Acquisition Specialist and grew my career from there. I was always looking for ways to add more value to the companies I worked at. I was hungry for achievement and learning - if there was an opportunity for me to do more, I'd take it. I worked at nationwide legacy organizations as a Talent Acquisition Manager, I was an independent consultant at a small company, and I worked at an early-stage startup as well. All that time, my passion for space grew as I became aware of SpaceX and the industry.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When talking about KPIs, I would say one of my biggest accomplishments is building a startup that was profitable within 6 months, with no outside funding. However, on the more human side of things, we have been able to build incredible teams within space and clean tech startups and make truly beautiful impacts on the lives of individuals and organizations. That's what this work is really about.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Having tough conversations with a lot of honesty, compassion, and direct communication. Don't fool yourself by thinking that because this is professional work, it isn't personal. Work is life, and life is work; there are human emotions and intricacies in much of business. I have complex conversations with my teammates, customers, and candidates regularly. I study a lot on how to have those conversations well. I do my best, to begin with the end in mind, seek first to understand, to stand up for my team, to do business with great honesty because this work is all about relationships, and to treat everyone with respect. That last part is key - treating everyone with respect. It can take a lot of emotional energy to take the time to connect with people on a deep level and understand their motivations, but doing so leads to much more stable and satisfactory outcomes.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do Make a Plan - Outline your timeline and strategic success markers for the first three, six, 12 months, and 5 years. Yes, by the time you're at one year, there is a good chance that your 5-year goals will have shifted, but starting with the long-term view will enhance your startup experience.
- Do Get Started - I hear regularly about people who wanted to start a business but just never made it happen. Having someone at the helm of your organization who has the stamina and take-action mindset to monitor operations continuously and start and complete projects and tasks is vital.
- Do Plan for Endurance - Getting started is only the beginning. Creating something of great value takes endurance, tenacity, and agility to stick with the work when the going gets tough. It means pushing yourself past the point of comfort and figuring out how to get the creative time and time again. Taking care of your health, personal development, professional development, and thoughtful self-reflection will help you build the resources you need to bring your vision to successful completion.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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