ScaleUp Grad: Running My Business is Easier than it’s Ever Been

Caption: Belleza Ropa owner Jeannine Kempees (above) assists a customer with their purchase.

For long-time business owner Jeannine Kempees, ScaleUp was an amazing fit.
“I was experiencing growth in sales and it was taking a lot of management time to figure out my next steps,” said Jeannine, owner of downtown Olympia’s Belleza Ropa.
Time was one of the premiums offered by ScaleUp. The program gave her time and tools to be reflective. “You need to take time to assess your business, set goals and create new systems to accomplish them,” she said. For Jeannine these were some of the biggest takeaways from ScaleUp.
“ScaleUp should be a required class for business owners–Entrepreneurship 101,” she quipped. “We think we know what we’re doing, but you really learn a lot. The program was tremendous.”
“The goal setting exercises were amazing for me,” said Jeannine, who identified goals for both adding a Marketing Manager position and obtaining a new Point of Sale system. She’s accomplished both.
“Part of the program attraction is helping owners find ways for life to be simpler, for them to be able to take a vacation,” says Celia Nightingale, who oversees the program through the EDC’s Center for Business & Innovation (CB&I).

Value of Working on your business, not just in it
Jeannine had already been in business for 13 years, having bought an established women’s retail store in Port Townsend 13 years ago, when she participated in ScaleUp. In 2010 she opened the Olympia Belleza Ropa store – offering women’s clothing, shoes and accessories – at the corner of Capital Way and 4th Avenue where it’s still located today.
She is a good example of who ScaleUp is designed for: owners of businesses that have already seen some success and are making money. These owners also realize they need to be doing things differently to continue to grow and have more control.
Many business owners haven’t taken the time to step back and be reflective. “It sounds a bit cliché, but if owners want to achieve their business vision, they need to be working on their business, not just in it. They’ll need to take a strategic view and set plan for growth in alignment with their vision,” said Celia. She said it’s a crucial step – steering their company, rather than just reacting to the next thing that crosses their path.
“ScaleUp helped us really perfect systems,” Jeannine said. This has led to less day-to-day work for Jeannine, with managers now having bigger roles with clear expectations and requirements. “It’s easier on everybody,” she shared.
Jeannine is getting ready to open a third store in May. “I’m going to take all that I know and apply it.” Located on Ballard Avenue in Seattle, the new store will be called Atlas and feature travel focused women’s ware. It’s a collaboration with her partner, an architect in the same Ballard building.

ScaleUp Offered in Bite-sized Chunks for Busy Owners
Since Jeannie participated in ScaleUp in the summer of 2016, the format has changed a bit, but the content is just as rich. “Previously it was a 14-week commitment, which was a lot at one time for many businesses. Now it’s in bite-sized chunks,” says Celia.
Today’s ScaleUp Training is a series of three, four-week courses. “The instructors for each course are so well suited for this program. They are all masters of their craft, as well as terrific teachers and coaches,” said Celia.
The courses are:

  • Business TuneUp, focusing on bringing greater efficiencies and predictability to your company (Taught by Daryl Murrow)
  • Build your Market, focusing on developing a strategy to accelerate business growth (Taught by Mike Williams)
  • Financial Mastery, focusing on gaining the skills and confidence necessary to make sound business decisions using financial tools (Taught by Dan Lowe)

You can sign-up up for one course ($395) or the full-series, with discounts for both the series and each additional stand-alone course. Each course includes four, 3.5 hour class sessions on Thursday mornings, as well as materials and one-on-one business advising. For the full schedule visit the ScaleUp website.

ScaleUp bought to you by…
ScaleUp, a program of the Thurston EDC’s Center for Business & Innovation, is sponsored by TwinStar Credit Union. Other supporters include the cities of Olympia and Lacey, which provide full scholarships to businesses located in their cities. Scholarships are not need based. The cities also provide monies to do outreach to city businesses about ScaleUp and other CB&I support services.
“The cities really understand ScaleUp’s value in building small business strength and profitability,” said Celia. “Their support shows how strongly they value local business.”