BASED IN: CANADA
I founded KIMBO Design, a branding and digital agency in 2001 when I was 25, and since then it has grown into one of the biggest graphic design firms, and fastest growing companies, in Vancouver (Business in Vancouver, 2013-14). KIMBO Design is an award-winning agency that provides innovative service in branding and web solutions, and tailors these solutions to match the unique needs of each client.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far when it comes to your business? What helped you get there? Was this accomplishment a clear goal or did it happen by chance?
KIMBO Design offers one-stop integrated Digital Marketing services, and was among the first agencies to identify the trend and strategic value of social media ad buys. Starting with only $3,000, I have grown my freelance operation into a full-scale agency with gross billings reaching $2.25 million in 2015. The values of KIMBO Design are exemplified in our philanthropic work. We donate $20,000 in pro-bono creative services each year to deserving organizations. I spend my volunteer time ensuring the graphic design trade in Canada advances the development of sustainability best practices.
How as being an entrepreneur affected your life? How did it change the way you think about life?
Before KIMBO Design, I had always wanted to start my own agency and be my own boss. When I would have creative thoughts or an alternate and new direction for a project, I would bring it to my director and boss, but was often unable to have these ideas approved. Conflicts resulted from mismatched views, and this caused me to realize then that I wasn’t just an employee; I was an entrepreneur. These big ideas and visions needed to be taken somewhere where they could become reality.
I don’t leave my house without… Cell Phone.
People would say that I am… Always positive and optimistic.
The most important aspect of any business is… Passion, planning, and persistence
My favorite business book of all time is… How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
My favorite entrepreneurial organization is… The Women’s Enterprise Centre
Do you believe that there is one specific formula for success? What does it mean to be a successful business owner?
One of the keys to success is to build your reputation through self-promotion and networking. Establishing a good reputation is critical when starting out. As a successful business owner, I learned to make decisions quickly and confidently. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to work for somebody, so I became my own boss. At the time it was a scary decision, but looking back, it was the best decision I ever made.
What does it mean to have competition/competitors? Do you compete/collaborate or just observe? What is the best practice to approach your competition?
Advertising is ultra-competitive, so you always have to move one step faster than your opponents. Having a competitive nature from my sports background has really helped me with this, and the thrill of competition gives me the adrenaline rush to be the best.
Do you have hobbies? What are they? Is it important to take “time off” and focus on other things such as friends, family, hobbies etc.?
Outside of the office, I enjoy yoga, snowboarding, beach volleyball, and flamenco dancing. It’s important for me to play sports to keep fit, but my drive to be healthy, and to be the best athlete I can be, has taught me to be resilient in business and roll with the punches.
What is the scariest thing that happened to you while being an entrepreneur? How did you overcome it? What did you learn?
When I first came to Vancouver in my early twenties, I knew just two people and had only $3,000 to my name. The biggest challenge I had to overcome in my career was building my business and establishing myself in a new city. Funding and hiring for a creative shop were two main obstacles that I had to overcome. I transferred my banking to the Bank of Montreal, which advocates for entrepreneurial women, and they were able to support me with the exact services I needed as a small business. KIMBO Design is not big enough to have an in-house HR manager, which created a human resources obstacle. I always had to hire outside resources. These external resources consistently led me in the wrong direction, so I turned to books and leadership courses, in order to make informed HR decisions on my own.
Is there one “rookie mistake” that new entrepreneurs keep on making? What is it? Did it happen to you?
I see a lot of people come in with unreasonable expectations or goals, and then not reach them, which can potentially cause them to give up. You’ve really got to be resilient and worry about what you can control. You also need to know when to bring a new team member on board to help achieve your overarching business goals.