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Hidden Gems: Meet Jennifer Barnes of Optima Office

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Barnes.

Hi Jennifer, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I started my first company in 2012 after leaving a firm that I was a consultant for. I didn’t like the one size fits all model and didn’t want customers to be put into a one size fits all box. I decided to do something unique in the industry and give each client the exact solution and team that worked for them. On the employee side, rather than force every employee into a salary where they had to hit a billable minimum, I created a compensation plan where the employee received more than half of the revenues billed. This turned out to be ingenious because I left the decision up to the employee about how many hours a week they wanted to dedicate to their career. This model quickly took off and my company became the 5th fastest growing company in San Diego county just four years in. Who knew that creating a company that focused on the employee’s needs first would be such a success!

The mistake I did however make was not realizing the power of equity. Even though I was the rainmaker of the organization, I found myself in a situation where I only owned 45% of the company. I had two older male partners who owned the remaining 55%. One of them was quite resentful of the awards I was winning and that I was the face of the company, so he got the 10% partner to take his side and they bullied me until they forced me out of the CEO role. About a year later, they masterminded a way to frame me and take the company out from under me. They took away all my access from everything I had ever at the organization and they had me walked out with security.

Because I am a tenacious and strong woman I made sure they did not decide my fate. I started Optima three days later and moved right across the street from them pretty quickly. I was able to convince a couple of dozen employees to come with me and twice as many clients. We spent 18 months in court, to which I finally prevailed. During the middle of the pandemic, the guys had to buy out my 45% interest and settle with me.

Optima is now in our 4th year of business and will exceed $9 million in revenue. I am so thankful to have been able to grow Optima in half the time and to twice the size. It was a tough journey but a huge blessing and I am much better off as a result.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I had to take my life savings and spend every bit of it on legal fees and start-up costs. A few hundred thousand later, I finally prevailed. I paid everything back to my husband and my savings account and ended up with more than I ever had. It was such a blessing and I am so thankful for the fight I put up. I have never looked back.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Optima Office, Inc?
Optima Office provides Outsourced Accounting, Fractional CFO and COO services, along with Human Resources Support. We serve close to 300 companies across the United States but are mostly focused on the West Coast. At least half of the work we do is onsite at our clients, although many of our team members work remotely as needed. We bill on an hourly basis for our time and are extremely flexible to our client’s needs. Optima attracts extraordinary employees and focuses on retention so that our clients have the utmost consistency. Our team is reliable, kind, and efficient. Optima’s motto is Happy Staff = Happy Clients

The amazing people on our team are pro-active communicators, responsive and understanding, intelligent, quick-witted and friendly. Our culture is flexible, caring and loyal.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I believe that every success story has a bit of talent, opportunity and luck. I would say luck has been on my side, as has karma. I would also say that I am a good person who takes care of others. I do what I can to make sure others around me are taken care of and I would like to think that all my hard work has paid off.

Pricing:

  • Bookkeeping $55
  • Accounting Managers $85-105
  • Controller Services $115-165
  • CFO $210-240
  • COO $225-250
  • HR Managers $85-135

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Danielle Alger Photography for the first 2 group images and my personal image

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