Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Baker, CEO of Keynote Search, located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are an executive search firm that combines rigorous sourcing, screening, and evaluation with an industry-first post-hire integration program. Our customers cover almost all industries, but our core business is placing senior leaders within the Defence, Technology, Real Estate, Non-profit, and Life Sciences sectors.

Tell us about yourself

I had the privilege of working for some exceptional businesses but always felt that recruitment should be about more than a simple transaction of getting someone hired - it should be about ensuring a successful employer-employee relationship. It was this vision that led me to create Keynote and successfully incorporate post-hire integration as an extension of the headhunting and search management process.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Scaling to 3 geographies while bootstrapping from day one and building a team of people who share a common purpose of helping companies succeed because of the people we place with them.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a business owner, you are constantly navigating things in and out of your control. You learn never to be surprised because something will happen, whatever plans you have, which means you need to pivot or adapt. Overall the hardest part of being a business owner is the loneliness that can come when managing problems. Having someone, a coach, a mentor, a business friend, to talk to when things get tough is imperative to take care of yourself.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Don't do it for the money, at least not to start with! Find a purpose and cause you can commit to and would risk it all for. If you can put aside, or borrow, enough money to live for 2 years, it allows you to put every penny you make into scaling your business. The scale provides security and allows you to hire smart people to do the things you aren't good at. Lastly, as you grow, define your role and let the people you hire do what they do best and trust them.

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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