A Story of Hope From One of Your Local, Small Business Owners

Here I am. A small business owner navigating the uncertain waters of a global pandemic. I began my business three years ago with one client. I have built a business that has served over 60 clients and counting. But what happens when the majority of my client base, who are mid-size employers in West Michigan and “non-essential” businesses (as we now say in pandemic terms), need to put our services on pause for the foreseeable future?

We pivot!

We offer a broad range of services aside from executive search, which has historically been our bread and butter. They include employee behavior analytics using the world’s best assessment tools (this is my own opinion), trainings that teach managers how to lead, employee engagement surveys, and consulting on workforce strategy. Right now could not be a more critical time to engage employees.

Although it is probable that my bottom line will be impacted during the pandemic, this crisis allows for so much opportunity. I find myself having the downtime to work on my brand, upscaling our marketing efforts, streamlining processes, improving operations, learning new skills, and broadening our client base with essential businesses.

I have been conversing with contacts I haven’t touched base with in many years. My network is reaching out to check in and see if my business is okay. My “tribe” as I call them. These are business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, simply professionals I sought out for coffee meetings over the years and turned life-long friends. Never turn down a coffee meeting, because you never know the outcome.

The conversations with my “tribe” have given me focus, clarity, and grace. We are currently forced to rely on relationships, our network, to exchange advice, resources, best practices. And honestly, in a strange way, it’s been the breath of fresh air that I think we needed. “How are you holding up?” “Well, I’m struggling with revenue loss. How are you holding up?” “Well, I’m struggling with employees not showing up for work and want to be paid for sick leave.” The exchange of perspectives, and frankly being heard during this situation has a calming nature.

Amidst adversity, my first thought has always been the same: “What do I have control over?” My company has come a long way over this three-year track, but as any business owner knows, there is always room for improvement. I could not think of a better time for change and growth. I am confident in my business, but there is an opportunity here.

What happens at the cross-section of opportunity and adversity? Reinvention.

Ashley Ward in downtown Grand RapidsThis I am a personal master of. I’ve always been public about the “Hope” part of “Hire For Hope.” It stems from my relationship with the non-profit domestic violence agency Safe Haven Ministries. Safe Haven is one of the only domestic violence agencies in Kent County and serves our community with resources and shelter for abused relationship partners. I was an abused partner. Now it has come full circle, as I give ten percent of my companies’ profit directly to their cause and serve on their Board of Directors.

My theory: Take control of what you have control over. You will burn calories trying to control anything else, and not the calories you want to burn. This is the sentiment of an entrepreneur. This is how I know my business will continue onward. I will pivot, transition, shift, try new things, fail at things, but ultimately never give up. Anyone who knows me knows that I will do whatever it takes to turn ashes into beauty. And this is exactly what I intend to do.

We are on this journey together.

See you on the other side, my friends.

eightWest – Feature

WoodTV 8 & eightWest

The mission behind Safe Haven Ministries

For decades, Safe Haven Ministries has been a shelter for abused women and children. Now, opening on December 11th, Safe Haven will double their capacity and open a brand new facility to serve more women and children throughout the West Michigan community. Helping to provide them with the support and resources to heal, Hire For Hope assists their financial endeavors through quarterly giving – the mission of our business!

Watch the full interview here!

2018 EPIC Award Finalist

Entrepreneurial. Progressive. Innovative. Collaborative.

The 2018 EPIC Awards hosted by the Grand Rapids Chamber with take place on October 30th at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Recipients and finalists alike are honored for their support of the community, their growth and innovation in business, and for their work with others as mentors and collaborators.

Hire For Hope has been nominated for Women-Owned Enterprise of the Year! Alongside 30 other local entrepreneurs and organizations, Hire For Hope will celebrate the outstanding success stories and contributions made by these individuals to West Michigan’s thriving economy.

Want to attend the EPIC Awards with us? Register Here!

Grand Rapids Business Journal – Feature

“Hire For Hope pours 10 percent of revenue into anti-domestic abuse nonprofit while empowering women in leadership”

This August 2018, Hire For Hope was featured on the front cover of the Grand Rapids Business Journal and recognized for empowering women in leadership throughout the West Michigan community. As a socially conscious business, Ashley Ward started her own company because of her passion for recruiting combined with her entrepreneurial spirit. Now, the dynamic duo of Ashley & Ashlee are creating new business growth and opportunities for both men and women alike. 

There has been an outpouring of support from the Grand Rapids community to help take Hire For Hope to the next level while keeping their mission at the center of it all.

 

Find the full article here!

Good Company Podcast – Life’s A Peach!

From Single Mother & High School Dropout to Founder of a Successful Recruiting Agency

The Grand Rapid’s Chamber has a Podcast: Good Company! 

Twice a month, Sarah Cavanaugh sits down with some of Grand Rapid’s greatest professionals, creatives, people looking to make a difference, social influencers, and even the newbies in town with a cool backstory. Tune in as she explores Ashley Ward’s inspiring background while drinking Michigan-made craft beer!

Ashley Ward has led a challenging and unconventional life. She dropped out of High School at age 17 to work full-time, became a mom, and eventually found herself in an abusive relationship. Fast forward to today – where she’s a college graduate of Cornerstone University, happily married, and founder of Hire For Hope. How did Ashley find the strength and courage to turn it all around?

Listen to the full podcast!

Sound Cloud Link!

West Michigan Christian News – Feature

Ashley Ward has so many reasons to smile. In early 2017, the 28-year-old launched Hire for Hope LLC, a successful socially conscious recruiting firm that helps fill mid-to senior-level positions for West Michigan companies. The name, Hire For Hope, is inspired by Founder, Ashley Ward’s story of survival from domestic violence making the name a hand-in-glove fit.

These days, Ward’s life is happy, healthy and productively challenging. However, it was not always that way. Her drumbeat of distress started because of a toxic relationship she was in with a man who was physically and emotionally abusive to her and had forced her to cut ties with the outside world. Thankfully, Safe Haven Ministries was the catalyst that changed Ward’s life in 2013, which helped her build the confidence to believe in herself, escape her abusive relationship, and find a job which is how she ended up in the recruiting industry.

Now, Ashley’s connection with Safe Haven continues, but this time in a different vein. She serves on its event planning committee, speaks at their annual fundraising events, and continues to donate 10 percent of Hire For Hope’s revenue stream each quarter. She hopes to someday join the board of directors and continue in the healing process both for herself and other women.

“We’re just giving back hope to women who can be so much more than they currently are,” said Ward. 

Read the full article here!

2018 Good For Grand Rapids Award

Local First hosted its inaugural Good for Grand Rapids Awards ceremony in March 2018.  Categories included: Good For The Environment, Good For The Community, Good For Governance, and Good For Employees. Local First has a passion for people living and working together in sustainable community.

As a branch under Good For Michigan, Local First is West Michigan’s leading resource for companies looking to make a positive impact in their community. Through Good For Michigan, Local First is equipping businesses with the tools they need to use their business as a force for good, and celebrating them for making a positive impact in the community.

Hire For Hope took home the “Good For the Community” Award because giving back is a permanent part of our mission! Partnering with a diverse client base while helping give women and children access to the same services and resources that helped Ashley Ward thrive is our company’s foundation. WZZM13 News covered the event to display how each company is using their business model to create jobs, build stronger communities, and a healthier region.

By utilizing Hire For Hope’s recruiting services you can make a difference. For every average candidate placement made at Hire For Hope, four families can receive a week of shelter and escape domestic violence situations. Safe Haven relies on local individuals and businesses to support their services.

Read more about other Local First Finalist & Winners and find additional coverage from the GRBJ here!