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Meet Jennifer Barnes

Braedon Stern
Jennifer Barnes, Optima Office, CEO, Entrepreneur

We are thrilled to announce that Jennifer Barnes, CEO of Optima Office, was recently featured in the CanvasRebel Magazine article, "Meet Jennifer Barnes". In the interview, Jennifer shares her inspiring journey, business insights, and effective strategies for success. First seen in CanvasRebel Magazine on June 20, 2024:

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Jennifer Barnes. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Jennifer, appreciate you joining us today. Everyone has crazy stuff happen to them, but often small business owners and creatives, artists and others who are doing something off the beaten path are hit with things (positive or negative) that are so out there, so unpredictable and unexpected. Can you share a crazy story from your journey?

When I started my first company, I made the mistake of partnering with the wrong person. He didn’t do much the first 3 years and when we reached over $3 million in revenue, which I had done 100% by myself, he finally decided to step in to help. That was 2016. At the same time, the two of us decided to give another guy 10% equity, which dropped me to only 45% interest in my own company. In 2017 the three of us had a miserable marriage and the guys kicked me out as the CEO. In 2018, they went a lot further and did a hostile takeover; walking me out with security, changing the locks as I was escorted out, changed all the passwords and eliminated me completely. I turned around and started a competing company 3 days later and took 30 people with me, along with a long list of clients. The guys sued me to not compete with them, to which they lost and even though the litigation lasted a year and a half, I finally prevailed. I now own 100% of company 2, and have over 100 employees. We did over $12 million in 2023 and expect to increase that by at least another million in 2024. I’m so glad I believed in myself and stuck it to those jerks.

Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.

Hi, I am Jennifer Barnes, the CEO of Optima Office, a fractional CFO & Controller firm that also provides bookkeeping support and Human Resource consultants. We have over 100 employees and service over 300 companies in all industries and across the nation. Optima is the second company that I founded which made it to the INC5000. I was also just named a finalist for the EY’s entrepreneur of the year award.

I grew up in a middle-class family in Las Vegas and went to college at the University of Arizona, which I paid for mostly on my own. I started off as an accountant for Petco, quickly moving up the ladder and at 25 became a Controller for a startup mortgage company, which grew quickly, thus catapulting my career at a young age. I started consulting at 26 for a nationwide firm which focused mostly in the CFO space. This led me to where I am now.

I feel strongly in taking care of people and building relationships over being focused strictly on profits. I believe that building a great company involves building and maintaining great relationships and giving customers something that truly benefits them.

Because one of Optima’s goals is to have the highest retention with both clients and staff in the industry, we are able to have an edge on our competition. People tend to love working for us and stay a long time. Many of our employees have been with us for over 5 years. Also, we hire quite a few part-time working parents and give them flexible schedules so they can have the best of both worlds. Many of our competitors only hire full-time salaried individuals, which I believe limits their flexibility and makes it harder to have a personalized service. There is no one size fits all at Optima. There never has been, and there never will be.

We are able to keep things flexible for everyone and bill by the hour and only as needed, both ongoing and project work on an onsite or remote basis. We love to support nonprofits, start-ups, and seasoned businesses, both small and large. Our attention to building relationships with kindness and care has helped us to solidify the strong reputation we have today.

When a new client comes to Optima, we don’t have just one option at each level; we have numerous options at each level and are able to select the individual who has the right personality and culture fit for each client which really helps our client retention.

For any company who needs a great accounting firm to handle all of their day-to-day operational accounting needs, including bookkeeping, financials, budgets, and cash flow projections, we would love to help! We also have a fantastic human resources team who keeps our clients as risk-free as possible!

What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?

Consistency! We provide a consistent service, with smart people who tend to stay with us. We make sure to listen to our clients' needs and give them solutions that help them right now, but also are able to pivot and give them new ideas and areas they can streamline or improve. We are constantly looking for ways to support our clients and offer them ways to grow successfully. We love to grow with our clients and help them achieve their goals, even if we have to start off with very basic services. Because we have such a good reputation, we continue to get word-of-mouth referrals both from our current clients and our network.

What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?

Referrals! We get so many! We typically bring in 10 clients a month on the low end, and up to 18 on the high end. Most of these are word of mouth. We get quite a few referrals from CPAs, banks, business coaches, wealth advisors, and our clients.

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