Rona Borre – Founder and CEO of Instant Alliance

It is simple. Doing good work and deliver a great product or solution.

Since its founding in 2001, Instant Alliance has become a nationally recognized woman-owned business enterprise, consistently increasing revenue year over year. As a leader in the Chicago community, Rona sits on the board and holds leadership roles with the Economic Club of Chicago, the Young Presidents Organization and The Chicago Network. As a thought leader in the human capital industry Rona has been featured by CNBC, CBS 2 Chicago, USA Today, CNN, and Crain’s Chicago and has been honored as an Influential Woman in Business by The Business Ledger and the National Association of Women Business Owners. Rona was also acknowledged as the Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine, in addition to the number of accolades awarded to her agency. She received her BS in Business from University of Arizona. Rona is passionate about helping companies achieving their goals by pairing them with the absolute best talent.

Where did the idea for Instant Alliance come from?

I had worked in the staffing and recruiting industry right out of college. As a young business professional, I was very eager and worked very hard as a recruiter to learn technology and what were the hot trends in the market. Shortly after working as a recruiter, I decided I was more interested in working with the companies that did the hiring. At the ripe age of 25, I had grown a client base and my book of business to over 30 MM Annually. My organization that I worked for was bought and merged with an international firm. Our company quickly lost its culture and the way in which it had once operated. I had developed some amazing relationships with both the candidates I placed as well as the customers I placed them at along the way. I went above and beyond to make sure they all received outstanding customer service.

When I decided to leave, I was held to a non-compete and could not talk to my existing customers. Luckily for me this was in 2001 when the market was turned upside down. Companies were laying off like crazy. Many of the people I had placed went to new organizations. They called me when they had landed and literally offered to make introductions on my behalf. That is how I got started. You treat people right and go above and beyond and they will remember you. As I look back now, I can’t believe how far I have come. I went to an office of 50 people from just me and my bull dog Henry out of the second bedroom of my condo. Boy have things changed.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My days are rarely ever the same. That is truly why I love my job. My passion still is to be out with our clients and developing relationships so we can be an effective recruiting partner. I feel most productive when my team is energized and we have identified top talent and placed them with our clients. I know that people ultimately are the differentiating factor in any organization.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We are a boutique firm and privately held. So, we can really pursue any idea we want. We are an action based company. If any employee brings an idea that we think is worth trying, then we go for it! You live and learn by failing. We had executed some great ideas and failed more than we won.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Big data and Analytics. I think it is amazing to see how you can operate more efficiently and make better business decision by utilizing data and the story it tells.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am never satisfied. I am always looking at how to improve and learn.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I was the receptionist at an ad agency. They treated me very poorly and looked down on me. I worked very hard as it was my 1st job out of college. I learned that everyone should feel good about coming to work. That our administrative assistants that support our business have a critical role. I also learned how to take the littlest job and take pride in it. Going above and beyond to make people feel good goes a long way. That was the foundation of why I think I was successful in my industry.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I am not sure I would have done things much differently. My philosophy was that I need to be out selling and outsource the pieces of my business that were not my expertise; like accounting and back office. I have had my fair share of failures but I learn my lesson and keep on going.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I try to talk and connect with everyone in my office. I want to know what is going on in their lives and how they feel about the work they are doing.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

It is simple. Doing good work and deliver a great product or solution.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I hired very seasoned sales people with industry experience. They had a strong client base and industry knowledge. Many of these individuals came from large recruiting firms where they have a lot of support and the company has very established clients. As a small firm, it is often harder to generate work because you don’t have the name recognition as the larger agencies. These professionals struggled in building a book of business, thus costing my firm a tremendous amount of money and losing some of my good employees in the process.

How I overcame this was by deciding we have to grow our own talent internally. We invested in younger more vibrant employees who were energized and ready to work hard.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Taking out my client last night. I learned a ton about them personally as well as the organization they are supporting. By getting out of the office this allowed me to cultivate a stronger connection with this individual.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Our recruitment database. It has sleek functionality and robust reporting to allow me to run my business more effectively.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

David Fairhurst at McDonalds – chief people officer. I really enjoy learning what he has done to transform that organization. His commitment to culture and innovation around people and product is inspiring.

Key Learnings

  • It is simple. Doing good work and deliver a great product or solution.
  • Going above and beyond to make people feel good goes a long way. That was the foundation of why I think I was successful in my industry.


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