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DEAR DIARY
By George Giokas

8.4.98  
Who Is George Giokas, Anyway?
How I went from corporate employee to independent business owner

This is the diary of a small businessman. I'm 5' 7 1/2" and slowly shrinking, as people tend to do when they get on. I'm almost 47 and a good example of the 20th century, downsized corporate suit who decided to build a business from nothing with his buyout money (which lasted exactly seven months; Donald Trump I'm not).

These days, I always trip over my words describing what I do. I run my own company, yes. But I lived and breathed newspapers for so long I still consider myself a journalist. It's actually my second attempt at independence. In 1989, I left Newsday to start a small weekly paper in the hills of Central Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun, but I also lost a lot of money and got desperately homesick for the anonymity of New York City traffic, bagels, and good Chinese food.

I returned to Newsday as a business editor and shortly after that began planning my next entrepreneurial plunge. This time, I had the idea of starting a staffing service for writers and editors, matching up people who I know are good with business clients whose writing and editing skills could use some help. Just as I was thinking about how I would raise enough money to finance this business, Times Mirror Co., the owner of my employer, started slashing staff and offering buyouts. With a teenage son who needed more of my attention at home and an idea for a business in my head, I took the money and a deep breath into a small office behind my garage in 1995. That's how StaffWriters Plus Inc. was born.

My company grew so rapidly that first year that I had to move to commercial space. Now I'm looking for even larger quarters. Through unbelievably hard work and good service, StaffWriters Plus has established itself as one of the major players in this specialty staffing field in the New York metropolitan region. I knew nothing about staffing when I started, but I knew everything about writing and editing. Staffing was merely an extension of what I did as a newspaper manager--knowing how to place people where their strengths are the most effective. Although we're constantly redoing it, our business model calls for branches in major cities and to stay ahead in the online staffing explosion.

Do I miss my old job at a big employer? Yes, but I think I have finally found what I really want in the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, despite the grueling schedule. On average, you could say I work about 80 to 100 hours a week. But in reality I work all the time, even when I'm lounging in the backyard. And I've never been happier.

George Giokas is the president and CEO of StaffWriters Plus, a specialty agency that places writers in temporary and permanent positions with corporate and other employer; it also provides editorial consulting work. His database includes 2,500 writers and editors specializing in more than 60 categories. His Web site is located at www.staffwriters.com, and you can E-mail him at george@staffwriters.com.

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