FROM CHAMELEON TO KING: Mastering the Fine Art of Successful Service Business Ownership
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
When I first started K-Belle Consultants, a common question that potential clients asked me (rightfully so) was “what do you do?” This question always made me cringe. The reason for that cringe is because I feared being wrong with my response. Prior to beginning K-Belle Consultants, what I “did” was work for, or on behalf of, other people’s companies. Now, though, I find myself answering as a business owner and not an employee.
In my own mind, I had a replaying thought running, saying to myself “What if you respond incorrectly and miss out on an opportunity?”
With this fear running in my mind on repeat, I became what I call a “chameleon” business owner. I stopped doing what I do best and instead started doing what I assumed the other person wanted me to do best. This approach resulted in "ups and downs" financially and in my business operations.
Surprisingly, though, I managed to ultimately stay a-float financially. So, this became the trap that allowed me to believe the only way to run a successful business was to be what everyone wanted me to become.
The result? I became exhausted, trying to predict what the client wanted to hear. Then, when it was outside of my comfort zone, feeling the stress of completing a project I probably shouldn’t. Keep in mind, I kept this up for no less than eight years before something clicked within me.
What if, instead, I performed 85% of what I love and 15% of what I dislike. How would that change my trajectory?
Finding Your Best Skills Within in Your Own Four Walls
Well, at first, it just felt awful. My company’s total business went down, my insecurities as a business owner rose alongside my stress level, and sleepless nights compounded. But like everyone else in this world, when we are in a crisis, we do what we do best, exponentially.
For me, what I strive best in is the art of over analyzing. Analysis paralysis, as they say. I sit at a spreadsheet and compose mathematical music. I analyze every scenario that could happen based on market trends, business financials, historical patterns and a variety of predictions. Luckily, though, I also consistently challenge myself on my accuracy and enjoy discovering where there is room for improvement. I also seek out experiences that generate knowledge and creativity, so I joined an accountability group to help me stay focused on this new, more consistent service approach.
But even after all of this, I still did not know the right service that I could provide. That is when I decided to take the upcoming year and incorporate what I do best inside of K-Belle Consultants and be become open to opportunities that allowed K-Belle to offer another service, or a better service to fit at the intersection of our skills and needs within our industry. What evolved from this process is the K-Belle Consultants of today.
Que Elevator Pitch…
K-Belle Consultants has ridden a growth trajectory alongside that of the construction industry over the last twelve years. We have experienced our share of growing pains. Realizing that K-Belle’s sustainability was being challenged, I dedicated myself to understanding the business side of engineering and construction services by enrolling in the Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, SBA Emerging Leadership Class, and attending various education courses offered by the Urban League, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Goodwork Network. Following this chapter of learning, I focused my next year on creating systems and processes for managing personnel, project logistics, accounting, and smart growth. While working on these systems and processes, I realized that I was not alone with the struggles of being a small business owner with more construction knowledge than business knowledge.
So, to assist other small businesses in these areas, I started teaching Construction Accounting classes through the Urban League.
While meeting other small construction business owners and hearing of their struggles, I realized that the true talent lies in the boots-on-the-ground dexterity of the construction industry and not in the back-office. A lot of my students were concrete finishers, carpenters, and electricians, but never a project manager nor an engineer. That is when I recognized a critical void in the small construction business community. Today, K-Belle fills that void by not only providing construction services, but also through performing the quality control and back-office support needed for small businesses in the construction industry.
Why Be a Jack of ALL Trades, When You Can be a King of One?
So, take this story as your permission to finally leave behind the “jack of all trades” card. While you might be intending to gain an opportunity, ultimately the result might only be one of being discredited. Take the time to decide what you do best and focus on cultivating that and growing it into a value-added service for your industry.
As entrepreneurs, we are the visionaries… we are the voice… we are the problem solvers. When our vision is in sync with what we actually do best, then the rest falls into place.
- Kristi Mirambell
President / Founder
K-Belle Consultants, LLC
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