Entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, podcast host—Donna Grindle wears many hats in her day to day life. Add to that the fact that she owns and runs multiple brands and you have one busy business owner.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur,” she proudly proclaims. “I just can’t help myself.”
She traces the origins of her entrepreneurial streak to a stint as a middle manager for a large enterprise in the late 1990s.
“I was originally VP of Operations for a medical software company,” she recalls. “During Merger Mania ‘97 they rolled out an IPO and merged with another company.
“At that point I became a middle manager in a big enterprise, and I’m just a country kid from North Georgia so I didn’t really fit in well.
“Middle management is no fun. All day, everyday, you’re just listening to people telling you what you’re not doing. And then these people tell you, ‘Do this but don’t tell those people that’, and it just wasn’t for me. I had stock options so I decided to strike out on my own.”
Scratching the Serial Entrepreneur Itch
Donna started the Kardon Group in 1999 as an independent consultant. With her background in healthcare IT, she had no problem finding work with others who worked within the medical industry, be they an actual doctor’s office or an accounting firm that took care of medical billing.
Even with the consulting business in full swing, it still didn’t completely scratch Donna’s entrepreneurial itch. Her wife and business partner Karla Kreitner—the “Kar” in “Kardon”—was very interested in events management, and so Kardon Events was born.
Donna and Karla then decided to capitalize on the former’s long-honed IT skills to provide tech support for local businesses in Atlanta. That decision led to the formation of Kardon Technology.
And in 2013, when laws concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) changed, Donna, who had already been doing HIPAA consultancy since the Kardon Group was founded, was ready to go with a new compliance-focused initiative: Kardon Compliance.
Running one business can already be a very time-consuming endeavor, but four different brands, each with their own specific processes and requirements? It sounds like one tough mountain to climb.
Donna wasn’t worried, though, and neither was Karla, who had a hand in all of the Kardon Group brands beyond spearheading Kardon Events. They had a secret weapon.
Many Brands, One Business Management App
“All those different brands under the Kardon Group, we ran them all using WORKetc,” Donna explains.
“When we were doing events management, whether it was a birthday party for babies or a wedding or a business meeting or any number of different things, we ran all of those using WORKetc.
“So we’re doing events, plus I’m still running the original stuff with my clients from the consulting side, and then we formed Kardon Tech and ran THAT using WORKetc.
“All of them had their separate invoice—there was a Kardon Group invoice, an Kardon Events invoice, a Kardon Technology invoice—and they all had different logos, the whole nine yards.
“We could assign the clients and all of that stuff so we were able to build the projects and do support cases and work on sales leads without losing track of even a single thing, even a single dollar.
“And when Kardon Compliance was formed, well, you can probably guess what we did: we started running it through WORKetc.
“I’ve been able to do all of that and never had to worry about how I would run all these different brands with different invoices, branding, structure—because obviously the way you bill for events is not the way to bill for tech support.
“With Kardon Tech, for example, we’ve outsourced the bulk of the heavy lifting. We gave our consultant a WORKetc login and, with some clever use of Tags and Permissions and help from [WORKetc product specialist] Steve Westrop, I was able to configure the system so that the only clients he could access were the Kardon Tech clients.”
Working From Your Inbox
Donna and her team use basically all of WORKetc’s modules, and one feature they’ve found very useful in particular is WORKetc’s deep integration with G Suite.
“We’ve been using G Suite heavily since 2010 as an organization, and the integration was a key piece for me in selecting WORKetc.
“For the compliance side of the business, especially, assessments and reports play a very large part. We do the work, we create all the reports, and then all the final reports and the bills are attached to everything from Google Docs.
“It doesn’t matter where I’m looking things up, I can always get to them quickly.”
The WORKetc Gmail gadget is another aspect of the G Suite integration where Donna and her team are getting a lot of use.
“They will also usually contact us for consulting; if something happens in their office and they need help, we turn those into support cases. Generally those are gonna come in as emails, and we build the support case right there within the email.
“We answer their questions, we create a support case and attach the email to that, we use the desktop timer if we’re gonna be on the phone with them, or we can create a quick timesheet just for the email we’ve done, and all of it we can do without ever leaving Gmail.
“It’s all documented, the client got their answer, and we can move on—and I never had to leave my Gmail inbox.”
Keeping Track of Every Billable Dollar
The Kardon Group and all its component brands also make heavy use of WORKetc’s invoicing module, which is something that Donna says has saved them a lot of time and money all by itself.
“We’ve been using WORKetc so long that I can’t imagine managing things without it,” she exclaims. “Before WORKetc, we weren’t always able to get all the bills out. Back then we were using just Quickbooks, entering our time into it, and then we would have to dig through our emails to find things.
Donna points to the company’s assessments projects, where they do milestone billing, as a prime example. The team set WORKetc up with the milestones of when things are going to get billed, which would then go into an unbilled milestones smartlist that Donna created.
“We invoice every single day now, so I can just check that smartlist I created with one click and I can see if there’s anything that needs to be billed. And from there it’s very easy to just click again and boom, we have an invoice.
“So we’re able to stay up to date on all of those invoices. We don’t ever miss a chance to get a little cash, which is really big for us since we’re still a small business.”
More Time, More Money, More Productivity
With everything that Donna is juggling these days, the time they save by using WORKetc has definitely come in handy as well.
“With everything I’m doing right now, having all that time saved is definitely handy. Without WORKetc I’d have to hire people to do all these small administrative things, and it’s not easy to hire people to do what we do. I wouldn’t be as productive as I am, and neither would Karla and our other compliance consultant, Christa Hartman.
“As it is, pretty much the only thing we’ve had to do is bring in a part-time bookkeeper and a virtual assistant to take care of things to free up time.
“We’re not having to use administrative time to manage our projects, we’re having administrative time to actually manage the business. So we don’t have to bring in somebody who’s just dealing with the data coming through and all of that.
“I talk to people all the time and they’re all, ‘How do you do this?’, and I’m like, “Oh, I use WORKetc.” And they go, ‘How do you do leads? How do you do projects?’ And the answer is always, ‘WORKetc’.
“Billing’s pretty much the only one that requires more than a one-word answer: ‘How do you do your billing? Do you use Quickbooks?’, ‘Well we use Quickbooks but we bill in WORKetc’.
“Running your own business is great, but it also sucks at the same time. Every small business owner has to wear a lot of different hats, do a lot of different jobs.
“I don’t know how we’d keep up with everything without WORKetc.”