From Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, and the billionaire Warren Buffett, the list of notables who have wielded Kimberly Baeth’s scissors is long.
And for the veteran entrepreneur—who conceived of her unconventional business idea over 20 years ago over a pizza with friends— she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her ability to ignore naysayers, her tremendous energy and her propensity to dream big has led her company, Golden Openings, to huge success.
Based out of Urbandale, Iowa, Baeth owns and operates Golden Openings, which creates memorable ceremonial events through unique, customized products. That’s meant everything from hundreds of purple scissors for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings to ribbons so long they’ve been mentioned twice in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The company continues to grow, and Baeth’s spirit and business performance won her last year’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big Award. And she hasn’t slowed down since. She’s used her grand prize recognition and award of $25,000 as another jump start for her upward trajectory, moving full speed ahead.
FreeEnterprise.com caught up with Baeth nearly one year later, to hear first-hand what selling giant scissors and every color of ribbon has taught her about business, customers, and life. Here’s what she said:
1. Use your passion and talent to put a dent in the universe.
“Use your passion and talent to find your niche and then go out and change the world. I started Golden Openings seeing there was a need that I could fill. Most businesses and salespeople focus on the ‘what; and the ‘how’ customers need a product, which doesn’t really lead to success. You should focus on why customers need your product.
Every day I try to fulfill my customers’ needs and dreams – it keeps me going and gets me up each morning and that in turn gives me my motivation.”
2. Believe in the power of saying yes.
“One thing good leads to ten more. After winning the Dream Big Award and the wonderful publicity that followed, I have been getting invited to speak at graduations, events, and women business functions.
Over lunch at one of these events, I ended up connecting with a woman, Jeannie Levinson, who with her late husband, Jay Conrad Levinson, co-authored: “Guerrilla Marketing” and co-founded the Guerrilla Marketing Association. After hearing one of my success stories (using toilet paper and coupons to drive attendance at a store opening), she called me a “guerrilla girl” and asked if I would be interested in partnering to co-author the book, Guerrilla Grand Openings.
None of this would have happened had I not put myself out there and said yes.”
3. Stay balanced (or at least try to).
“I have about 100 projects going on this year and at times, I may drive some of my employees or family nuts with all of the balls I have in the air. I have a tendency to overbook myself, but I always remember no matter how crazy things get, I need to find time for myself and my family, stay healthy, and give back to the community.
Don’t get sucked in the black hole – step away and look at the whole big, broad picture. There’s a whole lot more out there than just work.
I strive to be a well-rounded person, a good mom, wife, friend, mentor, employer, athlete, community member, volunteer and small business owner. If you take a balanced approach and stay true to what’s best for you as a person, everything will work out in the long run.”
4. There’s always, always going to be another surprise.
“The event business is not one where you can have a checklist for each day. One phone call can change a whole day or week. Crazy requests will always come up – anything from the Minnesota Vikings needing 100 purple scissors by the end of the week to a Florida town setting a Guinness world record with over four miles of ribbon sewn together in a seven-hour set-up period.
You have to be able to manage customers’ expectations, your inventory, and be as prepared as possible. Most of the time it will work out, but when it doesn’t make sure to learn from it and move on – just like the song Tub Thumping’ by Chumbawamba goes: “I get knocked down, but I get up again” – if and when it happens to you – take it, get back up, and keep going.
In my acceptance speech at the Dream Big Awards Gala last year, I referred to all people in business and life, “getting knocked down and having to get back up again” and then the cover band surprisingly kicked off the dance and reception with the Chumbawamba song, making it extra special and giving everyone there a good laugh.
*The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards Program in partnership with MetLife, celebrates the success of small business and honors its contributions to America’s economic growth. The Dream Big Awards program winners are honored each year at the Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. during the Dream Big Awards Gala.
If you are a small business, or you want to nominate a small business for this year’s awards check out the program here.