Meet Sara Sutton Fell, Founder of FlexJobs.com
Name: Sara Sutton Fell
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Where did you go to college and what did you study?
UC Berkeley, an interdisciplinary major for “Society, Technology, and the Environment”
Tell us about your first job after college. Was it what you expected?
Instead of finding my first job after college, I actually created my first job… and it was not really after college as much as it was more of a “hiatus” during college. When I was 21, a friend and I both took time off from our junior years in college to start one of the first online entry-level job services, JobDirect. It was a crazy experience for many reasons, including that neither of us had any business or computer experience. Yet we were passionate about the idea, and we grew and sold the company 4 years later.
The experience wasn’t what I expected, but that is because it surpassed every possible expectation I thought to have as a college student. I didn’t peg myself as an entrepreneur at the time, so this was a surprise experience in every aspect. One that changed my life for the better in many ways.
Tell us about your company, FlexJobs.com.
FlexJobs is the leading site for finding a job that offers some type of flexibility within professional positions hiring now, including telecommuting jobs, flex/part-time hours, etc. Our staff hand screens each position to guarantee there are no ads, scams or too good to be true offers. As a result, we guarantee each job listed is legit and the site currently has 50+ career fields and has helped over 500,000 job seekers to date.
We are thrilled to have earned quite a few awards, including being named a Top Career Site by Forbes, and cultivated fantastic partnerships, such as one with Working Mother where we serve as their official job board.
What inspired you to start FlexJobs?
I was pregnant with my first child in 2007, and realized I wanted to find a job that would allow me more work flexibility so that I could be more present for my family. I was open to telecommuting, freelance, consulting, part-time or flexible schedules jobs, but in my search I kept running into scams and jobs that just weren’t in my career path.
Having had my experience of starting a successful job service before, and firmly believing that these jobs existed and should be easier to find, I was in a unique position to start a company to create what I was looking for.
What has been the toughest part about growing your company?
Two things – one, staying ahead of growth and not allowing bottlenecks to happen! They first started happening with me, and I quickly realized that I needed to start delegating more. As our team grows, we try our best to hire before we urgently need to, while not hiring too early before the role will have enough to do.
The second is keeping my own work-life balance! The name of our company is FlexJobs, so obviously it’s flexible, but sometimes I can be my own worst enemy in working too much. I have to be very aware of creating a balance for my family and my personal life as well, and not just get caught up in all that I want to do with the business.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start an internet business?
Two differentiators for me between an internet business and an offline business are the ability to use “the cloud” and all of the different online marketing avenues you can utilize. I started FlexJobs as a virtual company, meaning that our entire team work from home offices all over the country, and even one team member in Europe. That means that our team can work from anywhere, anytime, and we can do it because we utilize “the cloud”.
Also, with online marketing, really look at what will work for your business – SEO, SEM, blog marketing, social media, retargeting, etc. There are so many online marketing opportunities to help drive your audience to your website.
What career advice would you give to women who are just starting out after college?
Listen to your intuition. Women often overlook their own gut instinct when it comes to career decisions because of what they “should” do, or what people tell them to do, but it’s important to put real value on what you want to do and what makes the most sense for you.
Also, don’t put too much pressure on every career decision. It is highly unlikely that you’ll only have one job in your career, so each one is just a single opportunity that will lead to others. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn from it and move on to the next one.