Laura Wallace knows a thing or two about working from home.
Nearly nine years ago, Wallace started her graphic design company from the comfort of her couch. When the business started to expand and she needed more space, the company’s first relocation took her to the kitchen table. More growth called for more space, and soon she was taking over the garage. When she outgrew the garage, Wallace decided it was time for a legitimate office space – which she proceeded to build in the basement.
“Our core brand, purpose and personality has been the same since day one,” says Wallace, the scrappy and successful founder and creative director at Worx Graphic Design in Hagerstown, Maryland.
While she’s still working from home, Wallace is no longer working alone. Driven by steady growth, her company – which provides personalized branding and graphic design services to businesses around the world –has ballooned to include four additional employees. Last year, Worx earned a Blue Ribbon Small Business award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Wallace says she hasn’t done it alone. In addition to her rockstar employees, she credits support from numerous other companies – some small like hers, some much larger – for helping her sustain and grow her company over the years. In a email interview, Wallace discussed several of the ways her company works with others and why she’s proud to be #BizUnited. Here’s what she had to say.
How does your company work behind the scenes with larger businesses?
We do our best to support local small businesses, but there are some services that are best provided by larger companies. Our internet and phone service, for example, is something that’s essential to our daily lives. My bank just approved me for a line of credit that will give me some working capital to grow my business, and we use the USPS to send out materials on a weekly basis. We use a lot of online sources like Slack for internal communication, Shutterstock for stock images, and MOO prints so many of our business cards. The list goes on and on.
What about around the office – if we walked into your basement workspace, what would we see?
We count on Apple to supply our technology, because without our iMacs and iPads, we wouldn’t have the tools needed to perform our creative work. Ikea has furnished 80 percent of our office, and Poppin supplies our office supplies like pens, mousepads, and rulers – they’re pretty! We use Method cleaning supplies to keep our office clean and sanitary.
Oh, and we can’t forget about Keurig, who produces the coffee we drink every day!
What do you think are the biggest differences between running a large company and running a small business?
I think the roles and responsibilities of a small business owner are very different. In a small business, we wear a lot of hats. We’re required to handle PR, marketing, accounting, production and everything in between. Until your team starts to grow, no one is available to delegate things to.
On the other hand, what are the commonalities you think tend to stay with you no matter how large a company grows?
Our core brand, purpose and personality have been the same since day one. Ten years later, I can honestly say that I’ve built a company that has stood true to its standards. Our brand has always been the same. The more people we employee, the more advocates we have for being a strong, creative group who cares a whole hell of a lot about the entrepreneurs whose brands we help create.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs and small business owners who are thinking about or hope to work more closely with large businesses?
Remember, it takes all kinds. Without some of these large companies, we wouldn’t have the ability to scale our business. Sometimes it takes the big brother or sister to look out for the younger sibling to get them through the growing pains.