It’s All About the Process

The success, growth and profitability of any business ride on the three E’s:  efficiency, effectiveness and execution.  For that, you need to have the right processes in place so everyone on the team knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.  When processes are ignored, go awry, or fail to keep up with the changing business environment, something can—and often does—go wrong.

In this podcast, Gail and Erin talk with interior designer Glenna Stone, founder and principal, Glenna Stone Interior Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Interior design is a second career for Glenna, whose first career was as a consultant to consumer products companies, advising them on supply chain and business process issues.  Although design is her true passion, her corporate experience has proved invaluable in running and growing her business.

Glenna started working with Gail about six years ago.  At that time, she was a sole practitioner trying to figure out what it takes to operate a successful design firm.  Fast forward to the present, she now has ten employees, with plans to hire two more by the end of the year.  Her revenues are around seven to eight times higher than they were when she worked alone.  She has come to appreciate, she said, that it takes time to grow a business and develop a team.  It’s like stepping stones along the way, she said, as you build on what’s working at each stage.

Gail asked Glenna what prompted her to change careers.  She said she grew up around creative people and was looking to add more creative activities in her life.  She took an interior design class at the Rhode Island School of Design and liked it so much she took a number of others.  Eventually, she went back to school and got a degree in interior architecture and design from Drexel University.  “Interior design was a perfect balance of left and right brain for me,” Glenna said, combining the creative and the technical.

That combination of creativity and technical skill underlies how Glenna runs her firms, as well.  One of the most important things she’s learned over the years, she recounted, was to trust the process.  The firm is very process-driven, and she is constantly reviewing processes to make sure they are efficient and add value to the client.

Having a good process sets the foundation for everything,” she explained.  “If you don’t have a good process to do things, then it’s really hard to grow a company.”  She added, “At the same time, the process is always changing.  You have to be able to adapt and figure things out.  If something goes wrong, it’s probably a process issue.”

In addition to the importance of process, Glenna mentioned having a support network of one’s peers and allowing for the business to develop organically as things that have contributed to her success.

The wide-ranging conversation covered a number of other topics, such as hiring strategies for todays’ tight talent market, Glenna’s 10-year vision for her firm (with a goal to reach $20 million in sales), how she manages to balance her family and business commitments, and what her dream design project would be.  For these and more, listen to the entire podcast.

Mentioned in This Podcast

You can learn more about Glenna, view a portfolio of projects, and read her blog at the firm’s website at glennastone.com.

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