Kerrie Kelly | Crain's Sacramento

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kerrie Kelly

Background:  

The Kerrie Kelly Companies is a Sacramento-based creative agency consisting of three divisions: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, an interior design and product development firm; Loft Media Group, a marketing firm that caters to the interior design industry; and 42nd Street Design, a furniture, lighting and accessories company that has a new store opening at Capitol Avenue and 19th Street in June.

The Mistake:

I would have taken my own advice much earlier.

As designers, we want our clients to “let us do our jobs” as professionals in our field. I think the same is true when it comes to using specialists such as CPAs and lawyers. While it may be OK in the startup phase to get by with QuickBooks and reviewing your own contracts, as your business grows, you really need to let some of that go and allow the professionals to do what they do best, so you can do what you love.

I think there’s a lot more joy involved, and I think it gives you the opportunity to grow yourself by focusing on what’s really important.

For example, I was really protective, as a lot of people are, of things like the accounting. No one needs to know how much money we make; no one needs to have that kind of personal information. As soon as I let that go to my accountant, who is now the CFO of our business [without] living in our building, we’ve been able to look at things much more strategically.

It’s allowed us to plan for growth, something that would never have happened if I was still over here using QuickBooks instead of designing homes.

 

As your business grows, you really need to let some [things] go and allow the professionals to do what they do best, so you can do what you love.

 

The Lesson:

About nine years ago, I started as a designer and was working out of my home. I was reaching a point where I needed to start hiring employees. I began to think about how nice it would be to have a space where people could come see us in a design studio.

At first, I was very cautious with everyone. I could hear my parents asking why I would want all that overhead when I could just keep running the business in my home. But gradually, it made sense. Clients wanted a place to meet with us, and it wasn’t going to be at home.

Over the past nine years, we’ve grown from one employee to 10, not including the specialized people we need. We’ve gone from being a design firm only, to one that also manufactures furniture that is unique to the industry. The marketing sector of the Kerrie Kelly Companies handles digital media and marketing. We create content for Home Depot and other interior design outlets. We are also the spokesperson for Zillow, reporting on trends and industry happenings. Our 42nd Street Design segment is nationally recognized for designing and manufacturing in the U.S.

But there are numerous things that must be handled to help your success. You need to keep up with what clients need, get them invoiced, order inventory, pay the rent, and manage all the travel that’s associated with our jobs. It was a lot of work in the beginning, requiring a lot of hours in the day.

I just can’t imagine doing all of that stuff now. We’re way too busy. We have scheduled times when we meet with people who specialize in taking care of this. They do their job so we can focus on ours. So far, it’s worked out very well.

 

Follow the Kerrie Kelly Companies on Twitter at @kerriekelly.

Photo of Kerrie Kelly courtesy Kerrie Kelly Companies.

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