This month, we’re introducing some of America’s most inspiring entrepreneurs by interviewing all 18 finalists for this year’s Dream Big Small Business Awards. The awards program honors the achievements of some of our nation’s most remarkable small business owners and celebrates their contributions to the American economy. We’ll be spotlighting a different finalist every day between now and the Small Business Summit 2017, where the winners will be announced (register to attend here).
The company: Sage Restoration
Who’s in charge: Stephanie Sage
Where are they: Overland Park, Kansas
What they do: Restore property after water, fire, smoke or mold damage
Q: How did your company get started?
Stephanie Sage: I have a Business Degree from The University of Missouri –Kansas City and, prior to starting Sage Restoration, I was a successful mortgage broker for many years. When I decided to start my own business, I liked the idea of staying in a profession that worked with homeowners.
The idea of helping people get their homes healthy and livable again, or their businesses back on track after a disaster really appealed to me. Proudly, that is exactly what we do daily at Sage Restoration!
Q: What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Sage: Being selected as a 2016 “25 Under 25 Award” honoree is one of my proudest moments as an entrepreneur. This award program is sponsored by Thinking Bigger Business Magazine and every year they seek to shine a light on small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, have successfully met challenges, have a record of growth and profitability, know how to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and are involved in giving back to the community. The awards are presented at a gala event with many members of the Kansas City business community in attendance.
Hundreds of small businesses in the Kansas City area apply for this designation, so to be a part of this celebration of the 25 most outstanding small businesses was truly an honor for me and a wonderful experience. The satisfaction of knowing that my business and my leadership of it were taken seriously makes the hard work and perseverance worth it!
Q: What does it mean to not only have created your own job, but to also create jobs for others?
Sage: We work very closely with our Sage employees and consider them members of our family-owned business. Helping them to become highly skilled in their jobs and being able to support their families, have a nice standard of living and realize their own dreams means a great deal to us. On our Sage projects, we utilize the services of other small businesses, many of which are based in Kansas City. I know the project work we send to these businesses truly help them grow and hire additional employees. We are proud to be a growing revenue stream for them.
Q: What would you do if you won the Dream Big Award’s $25,000 grand prize?
Sage: There is one very important element that a restoration business requires to perform at the highest level – highly-trained employees. I would use the grand prize money to recruit, hire, and train more technicians so we could advance more into the commercial marketplace and accept larger contracts for our remediation services. I would also use the money to invest in more equipment and technology that would improve the efficiency of our systems and the processes in the field. This would make such a positive impact on the future growth of Sage Restoration!
Q: What’s your best advice for other small business owners who want to Dream Big?
Sage: My advice to other small business owners would be to participate in programs that offer courses, training, mentorship and insights into business development. By doing this, they can learn how to avoid costly mistakes, gain an understanding of the importance of outsourcing, have solid management practices, and build relationships and alliances with other entrepreneurs who can help them when they need advice and support. I would tell them to do business with other small enterprises and to accept leadership positions in the business community, too. Social networking is critical to meeting people and building these relationships especially in the startup phase, it’s very hard to do it alone, it truly takes a village. And, I would tell them to be proud of their accomplishments and contributions to the US economy and to continue to dream big every day!