January 2021 is the 15th anniversary of starting the Smith Consulting Group. My life and business partner Kevin asked me recently what it feels like to be in business now for 15 years? It feels wonderful. It’s been like having a child: a child that you love, and nurture and watch grow, change and evolve into this wonderful being. It’s also been frustrating and maddening at times. Like a child learning to crawl and then walk, there are days you fall down and skin your knees, and it just feels overwhelming. But you get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. They say it takes a village to raise a child and it’s true. It also takes a village of support to start a business.
During the last 15 years, there have been so many ups and downs it’s hard to even remember them all. I can honestly say that I feel incredibly blessed to have been involved with so many wonderful engineers, architects, and other professionals in the niche we serve. We have endured and managed to thrive despite monumental hurdles like the Great Recession that rivaled that last Depression and a Global Pandemic. There were family deaths and health crisis’ that could have shut most companies down. Through all these trials, I have been personally blessed with people who were there to lend advice and be a shoulder to lean on for support and encouragement. My brother Mark lent me the money to get my business started. If not for that, The Smith Consulting Group may not have happened. I took my mom and dad to my first office that I rented to show them, and they gave me hugs and told me how incredibly proud they were of me. My first employee was my brother Randy who was by my side for nine years helping to grow the business one placement at a time.
We were fortunate to join Sanford Rose Associates 5 years ago and have leveraged their experience and best-in-class support and training to grow our team to who we are today. Other firm owners and people along the way who have been our sounding board and informal board of directors gave us their valuable insights when the forest crowded our view of the trees. We have developed amazing and trustworthy teaming partners who have become wonderful friends along the journey.
We have an amazing team- the best I have had the pleasure of working with. They put their heads down everyday and try hard to make a positive impact in people’s lives and the growth of our client’s teams.
Then there is my biggest cheerleader: my husband and partner Kevin. My biggest recruiting success story was the day I convinced him to leave his 30-year passion of working in the commercial construction industry and join our growing team. He’s been my best friend and life partner. These past 15 years would not have been possible without his encouragement and support, and his unbending belief that I could do whatever I put my mind to.
So, here’s my advice to anyone who is thinking about starting a business: surround yourself with people who believe in you and support your dream. I’ll leave you with this quote and advice:
“If you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback. If you have constructive feedback you want to give me, I want it….But if you’re in the cheap seats, not putting yourself on the line, and just talking about how I can do it better, I’m in no way interested in your feedback.”—Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count by Brene’ Brown