Jackson Solutions LLC
Year founded: 2008
Headquartered in: Darien, CT
Number of employees: 1, plus subcontractors
Karen Jackson, President
LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile
How and why was your business founded?
I had the great fortune in my career of three mentors who taught me how to start, grow, and sell a business. After spending 25 years as an entrepreneur in the IT services industry with high growth businesses, I sold my own company in 2008. I was really energized at the idea of creating an advisory services firm that would make possible for others what was possible for me. Small business owners bring enormous subject matter expertise to their businesses, but the majority doesn’t really have the expertise in what it takes to build a business. CEOs need a “river guide,” someone to help them get out of the trenches and look at the bigger picture of what it will take to really grow their company. I saw that as a void I was well suited to fill, one that I could be passionate about and make a difference.
What is your leadership style?
I’ve asked this question of my employees in the past. They have unanimously said I’m open and communicative, inspiring in others the desire to reach new goals. I believe strongly in the ability of a strong corporate culture to drive business growth, so I focus greatly on company values and the integrity of all employees. Not integrity in terms of morals, but rather in terms of delivering on commitments, doing what’s promised, bringing one’s best self to a task, striving for excellence. I am also a big believer in making it safe for people to say what they think, even if it’s unpopular. In fact, I demand that there are never proverbial “elephants in the room.” In environments that are safe for risk of any kind, problems get solved early and innovation occurs.
What is your company's growth strategy?
As a solopreneur, it’s a bit different than being a CEO of a corporation in terms of how one looks at growth strategies. So, mine is very simple: To create for my clients, my blog and article readers, and anyone who hears me speak at a conference, the experience that makes them feel they just have to rush out and tell their friends about me. What I do is really quite personal. For a CEO to admit his or her failings, talk openly about how they’ve stumbled, and be humble enough to take advice from an outsider, well, there really must be a very high “know, like, trust” factor. Creating really meaningful experiences for them is the only way I know how to accomplish that.
Tell us about a difficult time you went through with your business, and how you overcame it.
Getting started was the most difficult time. I’d started two other companies before, one as a minority owner, the other as majority, but this business is entirely different in that I am the brand. It really is all about me, and I wasn’t comfortable saying that at first. I felt like a braggart. Saying “I” instead of “we” when talking about my value proposition was just a hurdle I had to clear. Once I got clear that the “I” is exactly what people are buying, it became easier to market and sell my services. Of course, it also means that my success or failure is directly correlated to the quality of my work; I can’t hide behind the cover of a big company.
Do you have any words of advice you’d like to share with our readers?
Something that took me a really long time to learn: Be willing to fail. Often. So many people have ideas but far fewer have the courage to implement. Developing a muscle for disciplined action will put your company on a growth curve. Others would be:
- Create culture intentionally based on core values
- Get very good at hiring; if you have to micro-manage you’ve either hired the wrong person or failed to train
- Expect and reward excellence (not to be confused with perfection) and cut anyone who isn’t interested in same
- Set goals for the company, yourself, and your employees, and manage them: no goals = no growth
- Never excuse a high producer if they’re wreaking havoc on the team
- Only hold a meeting if it’s absolutely essential
- Promise only what you can deliver
What’s your morning coffee order?
Tall, half caff, black.