The first day I started working for Big B’s Copies, Etc., the owner Brian put up a “Business for Sale” sign in the window. But 18 years later, here we are. We bought the company as a family-owned business in 1997. In 1998, we launched another division of our business, Busy B's Stamp and Scrapbook Studio. We do everything from printing business cards to laminating papers and designing scrapbook collections.
I read the EMyth by Michael Gerber 10-12 years ago. The book screams my name. I’m a true technician. As a small business owner, I know we have energy and work ethic and drive. But when you’re a technician, you’re so wrapped up in the day-to-day operation of the business that you can’t move on to all the dreams and goals you have—there’s no energy left. The phone needs to be answered and the jobs need to be printed. I knew it was time to make a change. That’s when I finally contacted EMyth.
We had all the usual problems: employee turnover, our team wasn’t engaged....everything. I was doing all the accounting, but not analyzing our finances to see where our company really was and I didn’t know how to. I felt like I was drowning. I was working more hours and trying to do more and more, but nothing was changing.
We’re a print shop in a small community, most people aren’t looking to make a career of working here so we’d hire people if they “fogged the mirror”—basically, if they were breathing, they got the job. It ended up costing us more, not just in time and money but in frustrations. It was like having a “paid audience.” I would step in and help out more than I should’ve. I have learned how to say no to my employees. As owners, we’re very caring and compassionate and generous but at the same time, there has to be a balance. Saying no is empowering for both the owner and the employee because you’re giving your employees room to grow and working with them. I don’t know it all. I don’t want to know it all—that’s why I have a team.
My coach, Krista, is helping bring out the leader in me. The leader has always been part of my nature in my roles as softball coach, booster president, mom and wife. But somehow, I couldn’t see myself as a leader in our business due to the fact that we had high employee turnover, our employees could just leave, and I wasn’t holding them accountable. Most employees want to have guidance and be responsible for their actions. They want to be part of something bigger, and I have learned through EMyth my role in creating that culture. Before I didn’t know how to lead our business and staff, but Krista brought the guidance I needed. Krista is a coach that will go above and beyond to help me and our business succeed. She truly, genuinely cares and that makes all the difference!
“Brenda has the determination in her to do the focused and dedicated work that’s required of an owner in order to shift her thinking and mindset as a leader. Her willingness to take responsibility for what isn’t working and to keep moving onward without blaming things outside of herself—or herself for that matter, is what’s going to get to her that vision of the company that she wants to create. It’s a privilege as her coach to be along for the journey.” —Krista Bleich
I feel more at peace now. We have a long way to go, but we’re on the right path and have accomplished a lot. We still struggle with a small applicant pool, but with the culture we’ve built, we are attracting the right people. We’ve learned the benefit of waiting for the right person, someone with values that align with ours. We can teach a skill set, but we can not make someone believe something they don’t… and we don’t want them to. As we state in our job postings, “You want to be part of a team who believes in thinking out of the box, building relationships and giving high fives. We want you to take risks, bring your heart to work, and grow personally and professionally through the process.”
We have a lot of work to do—we’re transforming—we’re changing things and we want to expand our marketing and branding. But I greatly appreciate that EMyth is out there and that they’re willing to help small business owners.