Insights from a Successful Creative Business Owner
Scaling Creativity: A Conversation with Gail Doby
As the host of the podcast “Leadership Powered by Common Sense,” I recently had the pleasure of welcoming Gail Doby as my guest. Gail, a seasoned professional in the interior design industry, shared her insights on the challenges of running a successful business in the creative realm. Our conversation revolved around the need for systems and processes, balancing creativity with business management, and the transition from being a creative to being a business leader.
The Creative Conundrum
One of the main topics we discussed was the conundrum faced by creative business owners when it comes to implementing systems and processes to scale their businesses. Gail shared her own journey in the interior design industry and how she realized the importance of being process-oriented. She emphasized the need for both left and right brain thinking in running a successful business, and the importance of developing soft skills like leadership and organization.
I added that creative business owners should be willing to find someone to fill the gaps in their skillset, particularly in areas like systems and processes. I shared an example of a business owner in the cabinet building industry who was hesitant to scale the business due to his attachment to the design process. Gail explained that in order to scale creativity, business owners need to find a way to duplicate that creativity through a team of designers.
Planning for the Future
We also discussed the importance of thinking about the future of a business when considering an exit strategy. Gail shared her experience of planning for her own exit from the business and the importance of developing a leadership team that can continue to grow and expand the company. We also touched on the challenges that owners face in delegating tasks and opening up to feedback from employees. Gail emphasized the need for personal growth and self-awareness in order to lead a successful business.
Effective Decision-Making and Delegation
Gail shared her insights on effective decision-making and delegation in a business. She explained three levels of decision-making: unilateral, soliciting input, and collaborative. Gail advised against unilateral decisions as they hinder team participation and growth. Instead, she suggested soliciting input from team members and sharing the reasoning behind decisions, even if they may not always agree.
Gail also emphasized the importance of delegation without abdication, empowering employees to make decisions without seeking constant approval. She shared a story of a business owner who successfully addressed feedback from his team and made necessary changes to improve the company.
Hiring the Right Talent
We discussed the importance of hiring the right talent to help a business grow. Gail shared an example of a local business owner who wants to grow their business from $3 million to $10 million. Instead of hiring someone with a similar level of experience, Gail suggested finding someone who is already operating at the $10 million level. This person would have the knowledge and experience to guide the business towards its growth goals.
We also discussed the need for a balance between team members who are focused on contingency planning and those who bring fresh ideas and innovation. Gail emphasized the importance of having a few free thinkers who can lead the team and drive the company’s growth.
From a financial perspective, I mentioned that there are creative ways to incentivize someone to join the company at a higher level. By offering them a share of the upside in achieving the growth goals, the company can attract experienced individuals who are up for the challenge.
Our conversation with Gail Doby highlighted the need for strategic hiring and the importance of finding the right talent to help a business grow. It also underscored the importance of systems and processes, the balance between creativity and business management, and the need for effective decision-making and delegation. As creative business owners, we must be open to new ideas and opportunities, and be willing to invest in our personal growth and self-awareness.
Gail Doby, the co-founder of Pearl Collective (now celebrating its 15th year), helps design clients increase their profitability, sometimes over 500%, Gail does far more than help her clients wrangle decimals on a budget sheet. With 20 years’ experience running her own design firm (plus degrees in Finance, Banking and Interior Design), she’s obsessed with sharing innovative ways to overcome roadblocks, challenges, and detours creative entrepreneurs face.
She’s also clients’ strategist, brand builder, human resource advisor, and sometimes therapist. No matter which hat she wears, her goal is simple—empower clients to differentiate themselves, drive measurable results, achieve business projections, and create personal satisfaction through game-changing strategies and practices.
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Small business owners will hit an invisible wall that can stall the growth of the company. The key reason there is a wall is that owners need to shift from manager to leader. The question is, how to do that?
Doug Thorpe. Doug is a coach for CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams with 30 years of leadership experience. He is the president & CEO of Doug Thorpe Group. Doug is also a podcast host.
He helps owners understand the ways they need to reshape their thinking and attitude to make a successful break through the wall.
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