Jill recently sat with Shawn Bernstein from The Write Stuff Agency to talk about her journey to becoming an entrepreneur and an exciting new project she’s working on!
If I wanted a seat at the table, then I needed to build my own
Jill Button was born to be a problem solver.
Despite a lengthy career in procurement and supply chain, Jill knew that she wasn’t solving the tough problems that she wanted to solve. She had been in successful roles with some of Canada’s largest companies and was working on climbing that traditional corporate ladder with the goal of heading a major procurement department.
Yet burn out made her recognize that she had been climbing the wrong ladder all along. She saw that the traditional version of ‘success’ in these roles was not how she defined success, and she was not using her talents to help those who needed her knowledge and skills the most.
“I got tired of smacking my head on the glass ceiling again and again,” she laments. “I realized that if I wanted a seat at the table, then I needed to build my own.”
Truth be told, Jill wasn’t entirely sure of her next move. “I almost bought a Booster Juice franchise,” she laughs today, and was considering entering the pet food business as well. She had had an entrepreneurial streak from the time she was a student and was not afraid to try something new. Yet when a former colleague asked to borrow her expertise to review some contracts they were concerned about, an idea struck.
Jill saw that not only was her experience with procurement processes needed by one company – it was actually needed by many. There were hundreds of companies across the country that were large enough to have serious procurement needs, but lacked the knowledgeable resources and size to need an in-house dedicated procurement team.
Thus, ProcurePro was born, and is now proudly celebrating its 10-year anniversary. While she recently attempted a partnership with an outsourced HR provider, Jill has returned to focus on ProcurePro full force, providing virtual procurement services for clients in the media & entertainment, manufacturing, and FinTech sectors.
“We provide a myriad of services for our loyal clients, from RFP’s and contract negotiations to full ERP systems implementation once we have helped secure suppliers.”
Most importantly, being an entrepreneur has given Jill time for what really matters. In 2018 her beloved father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the prognosis was not good. Instead of begging corporate higher-ups for time off for short visits, Jill was able to return to the East Coast and spend quality time with her father in his last months – an experience that she would not trade for anything.
Now ProcurePro is growing rapidly, and Jill has her sights set on her next market. Through conversations with local businesses in her region, Jill understood that while small businesses over 100 employees may be able to afford a virtual procurement consultant, it was smaller local businesses that were really struggling.
Entrepreneurs such as herself who may run small businesses also require suppliers to run and grow their businesses effectively, yet without a procurement background many are unsure of where to turn. They’re often left asking friends for advice, or conducting futile online searches just scrambling to find folks who can help.
The results are often disappointing and costly. While anyone can sell a ‘bill of goods,’ it can be difficult to qualify suppliers properly, or to see if vision and strategies on a project align. In the end entrepreneurs often end up wasting precious time and money hiring the wrong suppliers, often leaving them disappointed and no further ahead than where they started.
In a post-pandemic world, these entrepreneurs and small businesses have become used to an online way of buying. Vendors are no longer meeting most of their clients at trade shows and networking events (although these are still helpful), in large part because the internet has eliminated the geographic barriers that were once inherent in doing business.
Today, a small company based in Toronto can easily be supported by a web designer in Vancouver, a social media provider in Montreal, and a fractional bookkeeper in Saskatchewan, all of whom help them support clients all across the country and even beyond. While it’s great to support local businesses, it’s important that business owners have access to the best resources to help them run and grow their business.
“Transforming The Way BUSINESS does BUSINESS!”
Jill’s solution is to start a new B2B services marketplace; ProcureHub, which she hopes will “transform the way business does business.” It will allow Buyers and Suppliers alike to enroll in the new online marketplace and be thoroughly vetted to ensure that they meet the high standards she envisions. This helps save time and money for everyone involved. Prospective Buyers can ensure that they’re engaging in business with a reputable Supplier who will deliver on their promise. For Suppliers, they know the Buyers on ProcureHub need their services and unlike some marketplaces, they only pay a small fee once they’ve actually made a sale. We call it a “Gainshare” fee because everyone benefits.
The marketplace is expected to launch this Spring, and for Jill it’s the culmination of years of effort and resilience. She often thinks back to a letter she wrote her father at 21, where she sketched out an early version of what later became Netflix. Even at that age she signed the letter ‘entrepreneur,’ despite not yet owning her own business.
“You have to believe in your dream, and you have to keep going.”
Today, over three decades later, she’s immensely proud of having become the entrepreneur she always dreamed that she would be. “When I found that letter,” remembers Jill, “I realized I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and all of those doubts melted away.” Now, with the incoming ProcureHub marketplace, Jill is giving other entrepreneurs access to the tools that they need to reach those same pinnacles of success.”
“You have to believe in your dream, and you have to keep going,” says Jill. “You just have to keep swimming.”