Janine N. Truitt is Chief Innovations Officer at a company she founded called Talent Think Innovations, LLC. It’s a talent management consulting firm dedicated to helping start-ups as well as small to mid-size businesses.
Talent Think offers an unique array of services. “We are a consulting firm focused on helping SMB’s and startups with the development and execution of talent management strategies. Many SMB’s and startups cannot afford to employ an HR person or staff, I see myself as HR/Talent Management concierge whereby they hire me to provide solutions that allow them to lead their workforces effectively,” explains Truitt.
She continues, “My services are strategy-centric, so that means I provide big picture ideas and strategy for everything from Recruitment to Employee Advocacy while connecting the dots back to specific business objectives and goals. I have another side of my business that focuses on facilitating the acquisition and implementation of HR Technology in companies. Additionally, I founded my blog The Aristocracy of HR in 2011. As a result of my blog, I have been able to create business opportunities and a suite of services that allows me to create HR, talent management, and brand-specific content in collaboration with brands utilizing influencer marketing.”
According to Truitt, Think Innovations allows companies to focus on more important issues. “Essentially, I have taken the most pressing business concerns which are technology, human capital management, and social business principles and created a company that addresses all of these concerns with an ultimate goal of refocusing companies on their most important asset: the people,” she says.
Truitt launched the company in 2013. “I launched my company in January of 2013. The decision to start my own company was more like a ten-year plan realized earlier. I always planned to start my consulting firm when my husband retires in ten years. I figured by then I would want and need more flexibility in how I work. 2012-2013 was an interesting time in my personal and professional life. I was working for one of the national laboratories as a Senior HR Representative where I was working on high-visibility projects, but wasn’t being paid or recognized for my efforts. I was also pregnant with my second child in 2012. My maternity leave allowed me to continue building my presence via my blog The Aristocracy of HR–which, in turn, led me to some key conversations with leaders in my field; who collectively told me that ‘I had outgrown my company.’ Each conversation urged me to start my business sooner rather than later,” says Truitt, whose career in HR and talent acquisition spans ten years.
“By 2013, the government shutdown was looming and I decided to have one last conversation with my boss about promotional opportunities. I had that discussion and came prepared with a proposal for a new role that was gravely needed in the organization backed with a summary of my accolades, efforts and accomplishments. Needless to say, my proposal was met with the a smirk and a bevy of excuses for why I couldn’t be promoted. I was asked to hang in there for another ten years. I left her office and cried the entire way home. In speaking to a friend the day after, I was reminded that I wasn’t promoted because I was being led down a different road. It was then that I put the plans in motion to accelerate my plan to transition into my business full-time. That transition plan was realized when I left the company in November 2014,” she explains.
But out on her own, Truitt had new challenges to face. “Being a solopreneur is a challenge. You have to be everything. I handle bookkeeping, I develop the business and I handle the projects and proposals among many other things,” she shares. “Over time, I have spent time looking at the areas of my business I could automate or outsource. I don’t outsource much, but the little that I do outsource frees me up to do the work I am better at doing which is developing business and helping my clients sort through business and people management problems.”
Truitt also had to adjust to going from employee to boss. “Another challenge is the transitioning from being formally employed to working for yourself. From a financial perspective, some people plan their businesses perfectly and had a nest-egg before striking out on their own. However, there is another portion of entrepreneurs like myself that weren’t so neat on the financial planning aspect of business,” she says. “I planned for my transition into self-employment to an extent, but I will say that I have had to rework my entire way of living to accommodate my new reality of ebbs and flows of compensation. My husband is the primary earner as I continue to build my business. We have to continuously revisit our budget to ensure we stay afloat.”
But while being out on her own gave this working mother more flexibility, it sometimes meant carving out solid time for family. “I am a mother of three children between the ages of nine months and seven years of age. As such, I have made decisions about how much business to take on and how much to scale given my obligations to them. At times, the progress feels slower because of the push and pull of having to be present as a parent and forging ahead as a business owner,” says Truitt. “As one of my mentors said to me recently, you have to be gentle with yourself and structure your business around your life and family needs. The business I am building allows for variety in the work I do and flexibility to be the parent I need to be for my children.”
Truitt says, through launching her own company, she has learned more than a few things about the business world. “My career travels have taught me a few things that have become important pillars of my business: three quarters of the workforce or more are unhappy where they work; companies have lost sight of ensuring that their workforces are prepared to tackle business challenges; human resources departments have failed to meet the business challenges of the day; upward mobility to leadership positions in companies is still a challenge and even more so for women of color like myself; and work-life balance is also a workforce fallacy that forces working mothers to choose career over familial obligations.”
Bottom line, Truitt loves what she does. “I love being able to bring 100 percent of myself to every project. When I worked for brick-and-mortar companies, I was often marginalized and stifled by the politics and bureaucracy of the organization. I wasn’t the right color for the promotion or too ambitious for the likes of my superiors,” she says. “As a business owner, I have the ability to decide what projects I take on. I have the creative license to design how I execute my projects. The people I work with choose me because I am just like them. I am a business owner creating my own lane and trying to build a legacy for myself and my family.”