How Stephanie Sage Built Her Business and Why Other Women Should, TooKyle Smith
To kick off Women’s History Month in early 2018, Stephanie Sage, president of Sage Restoration, traveled to Miami to accept a Enterprising Woman of the Year award from Enterprising Women Magazine.
This award sits nicely on her trophy shelf, which includes two awards from 2017: a Kansas Women-Owned Service Business of the Year award from the Kansas Department of Commerce and a Dream Big finalist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But these accolades are more than just decoration; they’re incredibly valuable for the continued growth of Sage Restoration.
“As a small-business owner, it’s hard to compete with the large corporate franchises with big marketing budgets,” Stephanie explains. “Winning awards and a PR strategy are a great way to separate yourself from the pack and get your name out there.”
This dawned on Stephanie for the first time when she joined the first cohort of ScaleUP! KC, a four-month program offered by the UMKC Innovation Center that accelerates established business owners with the coaching, mentoring, connections and tools they need to stand out. “ScaleUP! was a game-changer for me. It helped me develop the confidence that I can achieve great success.”
Starting a business and getting your first customer
Sage Restoration helps people who have experienced water, fire, smoke or mold damage in their homes or businesses and can even help with odor control, biohazard and hoarder clean up.
Stephanie started the business in 2010, and it was not easy. “Jobs were few and far between.” To establish a foothold, Stephanie found a niche, realtors. By honing in on this corner of the market, she was able to establish her value proposition, and her business. “When you’re starting out, you have to get out there and prove yourself.”
Stephanie differentiated herself by prioritizing exceptional customer service. Realtors began recommending her to other realtors. With this base of business, she was able to grow.
By 2015, Stephanie had a team of three technicians and was nearing $500,000 in annual revenue. That’s a pretty solid small business but not enough for Stephanie.
“I never want to stop learning and growing as an entrepreneur,” she says.
A woman-owned business, made to scale
To keep moving forward, Stephanie joined the ScaleUP! KC program in January of that year. Over the next several months, Stephanie learned about PR and so much more, including financing, strategic partnerships and systems thinking.
“ScaleUP! helped me work on my business and not just in it,” she says. “A lot of business owners struggle with that. When you’re stuck in the day-to-day, you can’t execute on your big vision. It’s so important that you keep working at it until you can peel yourself away.”
Stephanie began to lay out a plan for growth, to set goals that she has since squashed.
“I met so many successful entrepreneurs,” she says. “I had such great mentors and coaching. And I just took that momentum and ran with it.”
The following year, Stephanie took home her first award when she joined Thinking Bigger Media’s 25 Under 25 Class for 2016.
As her reputation in the community began to grow, so did her business. Now Sage Restoration has eight employees, and this year, she will crest the $1 million annual revenue mark.
“I have achieved goals I never thought would be possible, thanks to ScaleUP!” she says.
How you can scale your business, too
Stephanie encourages other women entrepreneurs to aim high.
“It’s hard to do it alone,” she says. “Go out there and meet as many other women entrepreneurs as you can because they can be an excellent support base.”
One of the organizations Stephanie utilizes to learn and grow her network is National Association for Women Business Owners. She is constantly inspired by the successes of other women entrepreneurs.
“Over the years, women have struggled to be taken seriously. But women have shown that they can start their own businesses and be successful.” Stephanie encourages women to strive for independence and consider entrepreneurship.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you can take care of yourself and build up your community,” she says.
Start working toward your business goals now
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