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STRATEGY

The Diary of a Small-Company Owner
 

First of a two-part series detailing an entrepreneur's use of an outside board as she struggles to grow her company.
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I thought that after two or three years in business I would have large cash reserves, no debt, and time to travel and enjoy my independ-ence from the corporate world I had left. Instead, almost eight years later, I still work 50 or 60 hours a week and drive a used Jeep. My revenues are still under half a million dollars. And I still wonder, How do companies get big, anyway? How does anyone prepare for business ownership? If business is a game, I feel I haven't figured it out yet

"March 20, 1992

"Dear Mr. Gendron:

"I have a story idea for you. . . . "

* * *

The letter writer briefly described her direct-marketing consulting firm, Direct Response Marketing Inc., which she had started about eight years earlier, and which specialized in lead generation for manufacturers through telemarketing.

Recently, the company had been chosen by a new nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh, PowerLink, to be one of two local woman-owned businesses to be awarded a high-powered corporate board of directors for a year.

"What impact," she wrote, "would that have, first, on a tiny business that finally had a toehold in a fast-growing industry . . . and, second, on the business owner? . . .

"My proposal is to continue keeping a journal this year, as I have for the last several, and submit regular reports to you.

"If you are interested in the possibility of a story, feel free to call me.

"Best regards,

Anita F. Brattina

President."

* * *

PowerLink's goal, Gendron learned after a few phone calls, is to help local female business owners catch up with their male peers. The nonprofit's founders (Barbara Moore, president of Pittsburgh-based Anderson Transfer and women's business advocate for the Small Business Administration, and Ilana Diamond, a senior manager at Price Waterhouse) had discovered that the missing link for many female business owners in Pittsburgh was financial. Not how to get money, but how to make it a priority in their companies, to put profits right up there with successful marketing as a business goal.

Intrigued -- and impressed by the organization -- Gendron called Brattina. Impressed again, especially by her keen curiosity about the journey she was about to take, he signed her up. Here, then, is the first of two installments, excerpts from Brattina's chronicle.

* * *

September 2, 1991 I've decided to submit an application to PowerLink for an advisory board, at the suggestion of a friend who is the cofounder. Barb M. says they are looking for companies that are growing. I didn't correct her. It is true that in 1984 we did $27,000 and in 1990 we did a little more than $250,000. I suppose I should feel proud of the accomplishment. But as the years pass, the longer I am in business, the more I question my own ability to grow this company single-handedly.

How does a company grow from $50,000 in sales to $10 million or $100 million? Am I doing something wrong? I am willing to stretch to find out, even if it means adding another set of tasks to a very full schedule. [Note: In my speaking to women's business groups, my favorite metaphor of the business owner is the man on "The Ed Sullivan Show" who balanced spinning dinner plates on the ends of tall sticks. Just as he had 15 spinning, one would start to wobble and then another and then another. This PowerLink advisory board seems like adding 7 more plates.]

October 1, 1991 I've been selected as one of two companies in the PowerLink program. My friend says they wanted companies that would help set the pace for this experiment. They also wanted to start small and get input from the business owners so that subsequent "classes" would benefit. I am thrilled and inform my employees of our selection. Their response is reserved. I am not sure why.

January 2, 1992 I receive a list of five board members who were selected for me. I approve them and add two of my own. I pick Dwight F. because he has been a client since 1984 and watched us shift from being a consulting firm to becoming a service bureau. Rick M. has extensive telemarketing experience, more than anyone else on the board.

January 5, 1992 Draft 3 major goals from the list of 75 we came up with at our annual company meeting: hit $750,000 in sales; analyze and improve internal communications and systems that have an impact on customer service; analyze my management methods and figure out how to delegate better and help grow the company in a responsible way.

* * *

I am unsure of what to tell the board about the company. I wish I could pay my employees better. I wish we could be 100% error-free on every client project. I still let receivables slip over 60 days. I still lose money on some jobs because we hire a new person who makes a mistake, so we do the work over again. We never seem to have enough cash. I still don't have my accounting on the computer. And when I go away for long weekends, I still check in once, sometimes twice, a day, assuming that my help is needed with a problem at work.

* * *

January 15, 1992 We close the year at $367,422. That's almost a 37% increase over last year, despite the flat economy. My decision to shift our resources to automate our telemarketing service seems to have been a good one. It means we can accept work from larger companies that need fast turnarounds. It also means I have more employees to manage and a $25,000 loan to repay (a few more plates). We are cash hungry all the time, and we have more debt than I've ever exposed us to. And, yes, the Jeep has 93,000 miles on it.

January 21, 1992 I attend my Women's Business Network meeting to tell them about my selection as one of the companies to receive an advisory board of directors.

In this group, I own one of the largest companies. So most of the women I could go to for advice have shoulders smaller than mine to lean on. I find myself nurturing the other, smaller businesses instead. Though we never discuss gross sales (do men do that?), I know that of 15 women at my meetings, 3 of us have employees paid "over" the table. The rest are home based.

January 28, 1992 Pat B., my sister-in-law and also my bookkeeper, gives her notice. Company getting too big. She asks me to let her move aside so that I can hire someone with more accounting and finance skills. I agree, though not happily. She and I have worked together since the beginning, and it devastates me that she is leaving. She is the organizer, the one who knows what I am thinking before I open my mouth. When I am out of the office, she runs it, pays the bills, does the payroll. I trust her without blinking. I cannot even imagine what to do next. Yet, I will not mention this to the board. Instead, I concentrate on major goals.

A part-time employee who is majoring in accounting approaches me after Pat's announcement to let me know he is interested in her position. He feels we really need someone with a bachelor's degree in finance. I agree to let him start doing some bookkeeping work in the evenings.

February 4, 1992 First meeting. Three of seven board members attend. The rest called in their excuses. I am reluctant to go ahead but don't want to inconvenience the three who have made time to attend. We decide to set up a second meeting for the other four for a few weeks later and proceed. Presentations by three of my managers and me. Nervous!

Each board member feels compelled to share in the advice giving. I furiously take notes. Eliminate employee presentations. Employees are too concerned with operations. The board is more concerned with the big picture. Since they are giving me only eight hours (two hours for each quarterly meeting this year), anything extraneous just takes up valuable time.

Brian M., finance expert and manager at a large national accounting firm, says I don't talk enough about the finances of the business. Mike P., a metals broker and CEO of a multimillion-dollar firm, agrees. "A company with weak financial controls is a weak company," Mike says. I am asked if I have ever done a cash-flow analysis. I say no. Brian offers to show me how, and we set up a meeting for three weeks later. [Note: We will reschedule that meeting three times. Eventually, Brian changes jobs and leaves the board. This was his only meeting.]

Mike says I should be doing something called tele-selling -- selling products directly over the phone -- like a friend of his who owns a telemarketing company in Pittsburgh. It means long-term contracts, something we have few of. Most of our work is on a project basis, which Mike thinks saps my company's stability. We specialize in telemarketing on special projects lasting 4 to 12 weeks -- usually lead-generation projects for manufacturing companies. He notes that a long-term contract with an international manufacturer is part of what helped him build sales in his own company.

I have many ideas about how to build the company's sales. That isn't one of them. I write it down but don't actively pursue the suggestion any further. After all, I rationalize, only a few telemarketing companies in the tri-state area offer the level of professional service that we do. How can we turn down the small-project work that has built the company?

Still, the long-term notion of Mike's suggestion is a good one. In the next few months I will be renegotiating with a major client and will ask for a revised 12-month agreement with a possible extension for up to three years.

Steve M., marketing manager for a local cultural organization, asks if I use anybody else for advice besides the advisory board. I tell him I really haven't used anyone other than consultants to help me solve specific problems. We paid computer consultants to help us when we made the investment to automate the telemarketing department. I also hired a marketing consultant last year who helped us look at how we delivered services and refine our customer-service skills.

* * *

Steve says my limited use of outside counsel is a mistake. I need to take my banker, my accountant, and my attorney and cultivate relationships with them. I take notes but wonder how much all that cultivation will cost me in extra billings.

* * *

I do, however, add all the people he named, plus three of my regular consultants, to my advisory-board memo list. Following the meeting I will send the board an update on company activities and will send the exact same materials to those additional six people. [Note: My banker, after receiving the material, called immediately to thank me and has given me a lead for business at the bank. My accountant started giving me extra hours of attention at no charge. I also notice I am not wasting time playing "catch-up" with them. They appear to be reading everything I send them. Amazing.]

Mike P.: "Always remember this and write it down somewhere." He pauses while I pull out my pen. "Strategy first, structure second." I ask him to clarify. "Figure out where you want to go. Then work on logistics." I am being told in a nice way to stop pressing so hard against the daily tasks.

What is my long-term vision? What is the role I want to play? Those questions keep popping up, and I do not want to deal with them. My way of doing business is the one my father taught me -- get up every day and just work hard. Last fall I did use a representative from SCORE [Service Corps of Retired Executives] to help me write a business plan to get the loan for our computer system. I even wrote a mission statement for the business. I share both with the board. Somehow, they don't seem to think that is enough. What point am I missing? Can't tell.

March 15, 1992 I finish the final paperwork to incorporate the business. This board makes me feel that we are entering a new phase of the company. It is time for me to take it seriously, too. An attorney friend who has been borrowing my computer at night offers to do the filing. I have an attorney with a major firm in town, but I agree.

March 17, 1992 When Mike P. talks about anything, I find myself listening especially closely. He has a service business with employees. He is experienced in the art of business ownership. I invite him to lunch. I come to the meeting with an advisory-board file one-inch thick and an organizer stuffed so full of notes that it no longer zippers shut. Mike walks in with a calendar/phone directory the size of a small calculator in his breast pocket. He has built his company to $10 million in revenues. I closed the year at billings of $367,000. Was I bogging myself down in paperwork and missing the point? He reminds me again that I need to install daily and weekly financial controls. He also gives me the name of his health-insurance administrator.

March 30, 1992 My regular attorney contacts me. He has seen the incorporation advertisement and wants to know if he has done something to offend me. We agree to meet for lunch at his club. I tell him what is going on with the business and about our new PowerLink board. He admits he could be more useful to the company if we saw each other on a regular basis. He sets up quarterly lunches at his club to discuss the business.

April 1, 1992 DRM Inc. is eight years old. Don't want to think about it.

April 3, 1992 We almost miss payroll. Our largest client (representing about 30% of our monthly billings) changed the criteria for what constitutes a lead -- and we are being paid by the lead. As a result we've been turning in one lead every five hours instead of every hour. Losing about $500 a day.

I know we will run out of all cash reserves in the next two weeks, and our receivables are below adequate levels. [Note: I've always used the shorthand version of a current ratio, adding up all of my bills and making sure they come to less than 33% of my outstanding receivables.] I quickly write out a list of things I will have to do to stem the losses. When I first started in business, I used to joke that I never ran out of plans. If Plan A didn't work, I went to Plan B. If B didn't work, I already had Plan C waiting in the wings. An employee reminded me recently that I once got to Plan N. She also remembered accurately that we never, ever considered that we would run out of plans. Even today, if a problem occurs with a project, we brainstorm about Plan B, C, and D. Today I don't feel that creative. I know we are going to have to lay off staff, and that is probably Plan B. Plan C is to renegotiate the contract.

April 7, 1992 Second board meeting. This time five of seven attend. The meeting moves slowly. Instead of talking about payroll, I say vaguely that we are squeezed "a little" for cash.

* * *

One of them asks if I have a line of credit. I do, I tell them. Then you are OK, they say. I wonder to myself how that makes sense. Yes, I have the line as security, but accessing it only gives me another debt to pay with receivables I don't have right now. I hope someone asks me the right questions, but no one does.

* * *

And I still feel unfamiliar with these people. Nothing in the notes from PowerLink has prepared me for corporate executives who seem to think I am doing OK. It is Mike P. who asks if he can help with financials and brings a small piece of paper with ideas he wants to share with me about business.

The meeting ends as the first one did. I have a list of new pieces of advice to hold under the light and decide if they make sense or if I should throw them out.

April 17, 1992 Financial controls still out of whack. My young accounting major/bookkeeper is up to 30 hours a week on nights and weekends. He is not able to give me regular weekly reports on time, let alone the ones Mike P. recommended. I try to understand why this is so difficult. I realize that our systems were purely dependent on a single person, Pat B., who was organized and set up her own system. It is hard for my bookkeeper to follow, and I am not around much to supervise him. We lose valuable time while he learns on the job -- typical in a tiny company. But the impact of losing one person in our small office has been great.

Seems like another catch-22. Not big enough to hire backup for every position. Everyone straining to get everything done in a day. Who has time to write a procedures manual? I wonder again, How the hell does a multimillion-dollar company get that way?

I review contracts and personnel with my telemarketing supervisor and Diane N., my new sales manager. We agree that while we work on resolving problems with our major contract, we must lay off six people.

April 21, 1992 I cancel meeting with Brian M. after being off for four days and coming back to find office out of control. Operations problems with our major account still setting us back.

* * *

Payables backed to 90 days. The money I borrowed last year seems crushing now that our major account is generating 20% of its normal billings. Our meeting to present the account with a new plan is next week. Though all our other projects are going well, I can't see it. These are the times when I'd like to walk away from the whole business, chalk up my debts, work out payback arrangements, and go work at Wal-Mart as a cashier. I call these my "depth-of-despair days."

* * *

April 22, 1992 Second D-of-D day in a row. I wonder why I put myself through this. I could be a corporate executive again with a paid staff and someone else worrying about the bills. I feel if I have one more day of settling disputes between employees, no matter how minor, I will shake them until their heads rattle. This is lonely work. No one else in the company seems to care, I think, about how the bills get paid. No one else cares how our customers are treated or how we get our next customer.

At times my company feels like a huge football-field-size nest filled with thousands of baby birds with their mouths open, and I'm the only one digging for worms. How do other business owners do it? The stores in the malls? The names on the directories in the office buildings I visit? Am I the only one going through this? [Note: I have one of these depth-of-despair days about once every two months -- used to be more frequent in the early years. Usually passes the day after payroll is met and the bills are paid. All that time in front of us -- two whole weeks -- until we have to do it again. Then I go back on the phones, set a few more appointments, bring in a few more contracts, and we are on our way.]

April 23, 1992 I meet with Steve M. He said he would help any way he could but could not attend the April meeting. We meet for 45 minutes in his office to talk about DRM's marketing. Instead we talk about salespeople. I tell him about the nine I have employed in eight years. My tendency in the early years was to hire inexperienced people willing to work on straight commission. (Only one really worked out for a few years until the lure of a stable salary with good benefits took her out of the picture.) Then when we started making more money, I hired people with lots of experience (disastrous in two cases) and offered a salary. Then compromised and hired two guys who thought hard work meant driving to the clients' office instead of persuading clients to come visit us. They no longer work for me, either.

I tell him about my latest hire. Diane N. is the exception. She came to us as a midlevel manager laid off from a larger firm. She needed a job and wanted to try telemarketing. I moved her into sales within eight weeks of working with her. But I see that she is also good at helping me look at operations. She is interested in how her clients can be best served, so we spend hours talking about how to do that.

I also admit to Steve that I love sales, love being outside, and truly dislike the day-to-day grind of operations. At the point where a project is set up and running smoothly, I am restless and anxious to be on the move again.

Steve asks if I had made those sales hiring decisions alone. Again, this advice issue. Of course I made them alone. Who else was there to negotiate salary etc.? He suggests that in the future I never hire a salesperson or manager without letting two or three people inside the company or board members help with interviewing.

* * *

Whenever I have discussions about my hiring decisions with people who work for bigger companies, my internal reaction is usually the same: Have you ever given up a part of your own salary to hire someone in your department? But I do feel Steve's ideas are valid for the most part and add them to the notebook of suggestions I have been carrying around.

* * *

He also points out that we have no long-term marketing strategy. Here we go again. He feels my fears about entering certain markets are unfounded. I could always raise capital if I needed it to fund the launch of a new division. To a longtime bootstrapper like me, these are foreign words. I've never made capital investments without contracts in hand. Is that my mistake? Is that why we aren't doing better? I am too cautious? Too afraid to borrow investment capital to expand the business? My computer loan still looms over me. The thought of borrowing again before paying that loan off seems out of the question.

April 24, 1992 New contract agreed to. We will begin new program next week.

April 27, 1992 Must fire an employee. He was a great employee but has a nasty temper, which flared with employees and clients. I had issued a written warning in March without the board's advice. Tonight, while I prepare what I am going to say to this man, I heed Steve M.'s advice and call a board member with personnel experience. Rick M., senior manager for a large university, listens and assures me I am doing the right thing. Then he gives me the words to say. I write them on the back of an envelope in my kitchen as he dictates.

I feel better after talking to him. Then call George S., CEO of a computer-processing business. Not a board member but someone I have shared business problems and advice with ever since I started working with the board.

It is strange, this idea of asking others for input. Almost like learning a new language. I keep referring to my flash cards. I am also discovering how willing people are to share their own business problems.

George admits that after running his business for 15 years, he felt he had made terrible hiring decisions for the first 10 years! What does he do differently now? Watches more closely during a 90-day probation and gets feedback from other employees before making a decision to hire a person permanently after the probation. He says when he started asking his employees for advice, they started telling him things about employees that they had kept under their hats. They thought George knew what was going on and chose to ignore it. I have employees who have accused me of doing the same thing.

Interesting idea. I've never asked any employees for their opinions before taking someone off probation. [Note: In this employee's case, I could have saved myself four months of headaches and an unemployment arbitration hearing.]

May 15, 1992 Phone consultation with my marketing consultant. If I add Jan R. to the list, I am now getting advice on the way the company is organized from my sales manager, Diane N.; my advisory board; and seven outside consultants (15 plates in the air!).

Jan is almost impatient when she reminds me I still have not consulted with another, larger telemarketing firm (we are now doing 80% telemarketing) to see how larger firms are structured. [Note: That piece of advice will prove to be one of the more important suggestions of the year.]

After our phone call I immediately call Chris H., a woman who works for an acquaintance who owns a huge telemarketing company in Philadelphia. I have been meaning to do this for months, and something always seemed to get in the way. I ask her if she can come in and help me look at operations. She agrees enthusiastically.

May 22, 1992 Chris H. arrives right on time, at 8:30 a.m. We talk for almost three hours. As I furiously take notes, I realize how important she has been in helping with the growth of her company. The owner is a salesman; Chris is an organizer. She is neat, precise, and detail oriented, and yet is also social and sympathetic toward other people. The owner had already been in business for 12 years before launching this division. And he had two partners on the operations side. I realize this guy knew the importance of hiring someone unlike himself to run operations. He is like me, an idea person, a people person, a salesperson. I ask her if she'd be willing to screen applicants for the position she recommends I create -- a director of operations to oversee telemarketing, computer support, clerical support, customer service, and bookkeeping. When I walk Chris out of the office she reminds me that the tree in our reception area needs to have the leaves dusted.

May 27, 1992 I call Sarah K., a board member who is a quality-assurance manager for an international manufacturer. I tell her about Chris H. and this discovery I have made. That I have never hired a manager who is my alter ego -- a detail person. She laughs.

* * *

She says there is a personality type among operations people. This is nothing scientific, just her own observation. She suggests I go out to the parking lot and look at my employees' cars. If the insides are clean, if those employees are always precisely on time, if they live their lives by a stopwatch, then they belong in operations. I hang up. I can't resist, and go outside to the parking lot.

* * *

My new bookkeeper's car is sitting next to mine. The inside is filthy: old soda cups on the floor, clothes on the backseat. His office and his work look the same, I am forced to admit to myself. I look at my sales manager's car. It is immaculate.

May 29, 1992 I am leaving for a 15-day trip to Italy with my husband and six friends. We have been planning this trip for two years. As the months have passed, I have eyed this date on the calendar and wondered if my company would be ready for me to be staying in a villa without a phone in the heart of Tuscany for 15 days. I decide to leave the company in the hands of Diane, my sales manager.

Two hours before I leave the office, Chris H. calls and tells me she is interested in the operations position.

In the flight magazine I read from Pittsburgh to New York City is a quote I rewrite in my journal: "The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." Theodore Roosevelt. It is another reminder that for our company to grow, I must lead, but I also must hire good solid people to run each area of the company. I decide that is one of the mistakes I have made over the years, second-guessing employees, not clearly defining their jobs, and then not getting out of their way. Determined to follow Chris H.'s suggestions to realign DRM's organizational structure, I draft the new organizational chart and operations-job description before we land in New York to catch our overseas flight. I also realize that, realistically, until now I could not afford to hire managers -- so I hired people to assist me while I ran every area of the company.

June 8, 1992 While I am here in Italy I complete the operations director's job description. It is the most thought I have given to a position ever. I realize that in my career, I have hired very few management candidates. Mostly, they have been line employees or supervisors. I call the office once, from a hotel pay phone, and it costs 38,000 liras for Diane to tell me everything is fine.

June 11, 1992 Over a long, sunny afternoon I sit with Marion Z., debating the finer points of running a business. His architectural firm is 80 years old; our business is 8. He shares the company with four other principals; I have none. I do not ask him what his company grosses in a year, but I know he has more than 50 employees and occupies a large space in a premier office building downtown. We talk about what it takes for a company to go from $200,000 in sales to $2 million. He argues convincingly that it is the client relationships built over many years that make the difference.

I point out that I have always drawn a strict line between my business and personal life. When I walk into a meeting with a client, I am the first one to bring the agenda to the table. In fact, I pride myself on handpicking the clients I want to work with, looking for those I like and respect, and rejecting all others. Marion disagrees strongly, and so we debate for most of the day. At night I compare our points and wonder how many times my own beliefs get in the way of my company's growth.

June 16, 1992 Back in the office today. While in Italy, I got to know Marion Z.'s wife, Mary. I asked her if she would like to be considered by our new operations person as an administrative assistant once that person is hired. She agreed. I know how she keeps her car, because we shared the same car and villa for two weeks. Morale is actually high when I return. Diane has been solving problems and talking to employees, assuring them everything will be fine.

June 25, 1992 The day I got back I posted the operations director's position internally. Diane applied. So did Rick M., my board member. I had sent the description to the rest of the board and the consultants. Today, after discussions with Diane and two board members, I ask the current telemarketing supervisor to go back to work in the production area. She handles this surprisingly well. I feel an urgency to hire an operations director quickly.

* * *

June 26, 1992 I meet with one of my favorite clients. For the first time, I let her dictate when we will talk about the project. We spend 45 minutes talking about vacations, families, and our jobs. I consider it a superhuman effort not to flip open my organizer to our agenda. I had never realized how prone I am to getting to the heart of a meeting, talking about the subject at hand. We conduct business for less than 25% of the meeting, and we part. I am uncomfortable, but as with so many things I have been doing this year, I struggle with myself not to slip back into my old habits.

* * *

June 29, 1992 I interview Chris H. for the operations position. She sets a salary requirement that is almost 60% more than my budget for the position. She is coming from a multimillion-dollar company. My favorite advice from my marketing consultant, Jan R., rings in my ears: hire the best person available for the job. And Chris would be perfect. But I just can't justify the expense. I discuss this with Dwight F. and George S. They agree with me. Chris H. and I do agree that she will work for us as a consultant until I can figure out a way to bring her into the company when we can afford her.

June 30, 1992 I have asked Dwight F., who has hired hundreds of managers in his 40-year career, to come to my office and interview Diane and Rick M. He spends an afternoon, about an hour with each of them. I am not in the room either time. He leaves before we have time to discuss the interviews, so I call him at home. Dwight says that Diane's experience while I was in Italy has her primed. She wants the job badly, knows our current operation well, and could hit the ground running. Though Rick is a good candidate, Dwight feels he would need six months or more to get oriented to the company. Also, Dwight reminds me that coming to a small company after being a senior manager at a major university might be a culture shock for Rick. That is true. If he needs a new chair, he probably calls Purchasing. If he needs computers, he writes them into the next year's budget. I still consider discount mail-order catalogs to be required professional reading.

I know based on the board's previous advice that they will recommend I keep looking. However, my instincts tell me we need someone now. I hire Diane on a three-month probation and agree to suspend the search to give her a chance to prove herself and give her a chance to see if she likes the job. If she doesn't, I agree she could go back to her old sales position. Six months ago I would have selected Diane purely on common sense and gut reaction. I still reach the same conclusion but feel more relaxed about the decision. The written job description is a first, also. The board never specifically asked for it, but I have a growing sense of accountability to them.

July 1, 1992 Tonight I bring my paperwork home in a box with two handles. I did not accept my bookkeeper at the end of his probation, and I am now keeping all the books for the company. I also have to prepare a training schedule for Diane and get our bookkeeping back into some order simulating standard accounting practices before handing it over to a new person. The board is a help, yet I still feel I am out there by myself, really. Diane may be the beginning of a new chapter for us -- the first time that I get out of the way and really let employees do what they do best. I also feel this growing concern about the vagueness of my dealings with the board. I am not as "in charge and focused" as I would like to believe I am. Where are we headed? I'm determined, once I slide the operations plates over to Diane's sticks, to begin work on that. And maybe, thanks to the board, I'll begin to scrutinize everything more closely than ever before. I am tired.

* * *

The Diary of a Small-Company Owner, Continued . . .
Is it going to be possible for Brattina ever to get out from under the daily details of running her company? Will the board, in the end, turn out to be a help or a hindrance to her dreams of growing DRM? And what about Diane? Does she have enough experience? Will Brattina really give her free rein?

Look for Part Two in June

* * *

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Founder: Anita F. Brattina

Company: Direct Response Marketing Inc., Pittsburgh

Formed: April 1, 1984, as a direct-marketing consultant

Other Shareholders: None

Initial Capital Investment: $27,000 in personal funds

Current Primary Business: Telemarketing service bureau providing lead generation, data collection, research, and fund-raising

Primary Markets: Manufacturing, high-tech industries, communications, medical supply, health care, and nonprofits

Sales-Revenue History:

1989 $248,138

1990 $268,723

1991 $367,422

Last updated: May 1, 1993




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