Part-time gig for Naperville mom grows into full-fledged HR support system for businesses – Chicago Tribune

Business: Beaird Group

Address: Address: 236 S. Washington St., Naperville

Phone / website: 630-637-0430, www.beairdgroup.com

Owner: Owner: Deb Beaird, 61, of Naperville

Executive consultant / vice president of operations: Carrie Smolinski, 47, of Naperville

Years in business? 27

What does your business do? “We provide consulting and professional staffing services. It’s totally business to business. Our clients range from smaller companies, start-ups, to Fortune 200,” Beaird said.

How does it work? “If a client has a problem with providing HR recruiting, we provide services to do that. Or, if they’re in the process of trying to evaluate a different system to support their HR systems or their student information systems, we can help them It’s a range of services, ”Beaird said.

What else do you offer? “We do some coaching / mentoring as well. We do sales consulting for someone starting out who is trying to grow or (someone) who is well established, trying to grow their sales organization or train — in the case of a big company — train their incoming sales teams. Kids fresh out of college, train them how to do sales, ”Smolinski said.

“The bulk of our work right now is focusing primarily on the sales and marketing support area and human resources support, partly because we do a lot of different things and we have a lot of strengths in those two areas,” Beaird said. If you were to come and say,’Do you have anyone who can do XYZ?’If we do, we’ll help staff it or we’ll refer (you) to somebody we worked with in the past. ”

Why did you start this business? “I was with IBM for 12 years. When I had children, I wanted a part-time situation. I talked to a guy I worked for at IBM, looked for a reference, he said,’Oh, do you want to work for me?’I started off doing a small project. As it got bigger, some of the work I was doing I knew I could off-load to somebody else and charge the client less for it. That’s the model we continued to grow with, ”Beaird said.

How did the virus impact your business? “It had an impact, but a lot of our people worked from home already, so we were in a good position to keep on going,” Beaird said.

What’s good about being based in Naperville? “It’s a good network of people. … And we live here. I can bike or walk to the office. Naperville is a great town, very friendly to businesses. The (Naperville Area) chamber (of Commerce) has been super, ”Beaird said.

Do you have a lot of clients? “Over the years, we’ve had well over 100 clients,” Beaird said.

Is there a busy time? “Often January and February tend to be. This year that was not the case. It depends on the project,” Beaird said.

What do you like about the business? “The flexibility and a great team of people. If somebody is gone, everybody is good about handing off the baton, sharing and supporting each other,” Beaird said.

Any negatives? “It is project based. You may have a project where you’re working really hard for a month or six months even. Then I had one summer where I averaged eight hours a week for a three-month period. If you can handle that , it works out well, ”Smolinski said.

“It’s hard to market our model. We do have a business development executive, Nancy Ruprecht. She’s great. She can help run the business, too,” Beaird said.

What misconceptions do people have? “It used to be a bunch of working mommies type thing. That’s changed in the past 15 years. Part of it is we are older, the kids are out of the house. But it has evolved and changed. We’ve grown a lot, from working out of my house on the dining room table to having a couple offices over the years, ”Beaird said.

How do you find clients? “Our best business generator is a referral,” Beaird said.

Any plans for the future? “We have a new recruiter,” Beaird said.

What do you look for? “Somebody who is flexible, a good team player. … Often with a client, we do a lot of the work and don’t necessarily get the credit. It has to be somebody who is OK with that,” Beaird said.

What’s your advice for someone starting a business? “We started very small and conservatively,” Beaird said. “Take on as much as you want.”

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.