When a Solopreneurial venture skyrockets toward growth, it can be challenging for the business owner to recognize the timing and resources needed to step into her new role as visionary and boss. One day she will transition from doing it all to letting go of day-to-day operations; she will explore new territories and face new challenges. But how does a solopreneur know when that day has come?
Today I spoke with a business owner who finds herself exactly in that position. Her business was born in the basement of her home and now she is leasing property, outsourcing, hiring employees and much, much more. Kimbra Orr is the founder of Kimbra Studios, a thriving custom photo jewelry company that has reached its tipping point.
Q. Kimbra, you are a creative individual. With Kimbra Studios growing at such a rapid rate how do you get it all done? How have you identified the 'right' times to bring on more help?
A. As a creative, I have learned to deal with a mind that jumps into an infinite number of directions every minute. The strength in that is a thought process full of ideas and insight. Coming up with new ideas is not a challenge for me, carrying it through to its full potential definitely is! But photo jewelry seems to be a different kind of thought process for me than all the others. I've always felt the need to follow through and stick with it.
When I could no longer keep up with demand and more and more photographers began selling my products in their studios, I knew it was time to hire some part time help. When there were so many cars parked in front of my home, with people coming and going all day long, I knew it was time to find my first retail location.
Today I have 8 part time employees who create my products and help with customer service, but I am still running the day-to-day operations. I look forward to the time that I am totally free to do what I started out doing best – designing and dreaming. I am not effective sitting behind a desk worrying about logistics but I had to do it to understand every aspect of my business. My next step is to bring on an Operations Manager, but I have to understand how I want the business to run so I can then find someone who fits my personality, balances me and my company and shares my values and priorities. When that person is in place I can free my mind to find new ideas, market the company and create new opportunities…to be the Visionary. I think it's impossible to be a Visionary from a position of worrying about logistics. To be given the gift of an angel I will call an Operations Manager will be such a relief to me – it is difficult to explain. It is like someone taking a huge weight off my shoulders and as my understanding of this expansion grows, I know it's close to that time.
Q. It sounds exhausting Kimbra! Do you ever feel like throwing your hands up in the air and giving up?
A. In the past 12 years there have been many, many times that I have said to myself -with tears in my eyes - 'What are you doing? You are not a jeweler, you're not a photographer, you're not a chemist and you definitely don't know how to run a business.' When these negative recordings run through my mind like a broken record I stop and remind myself that I AM running a company successfully…hiring and managing people, leasing buildings, putting production processes into place, signing contracts with major corporations, achieving profits during an economic recession…and I understand that I am doing exactly what I was designed to do and there is nothing else I would rather do.
Q. Do you have any support during this time Kimbra? How do you handle the stress of it all?
A. One of my biggest blessings and the reason the negative thoughts are thrown out quickly is because I have an incredible mentor and a great coach. Having these two people in my life has made all the difference. They push me when I need it, pull me up when I'm down and they believe in me. Surrounding yourself with knowledge and wisdom is critical to success. Where I lack experience they have already been down that road and learned that lesson so I am spared from a lot of pain!
Through this journey of discovery called 'owning a business' I have found what fulfills me and gives me purpose. I am on my way to doing is what I want most for the other people in my life as well….on my way to Finding Wonderful.
Last updated: May 18, 2010
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka