This Female Founder Friday, and I am delighted to introduce you to Kim Clark Pakstys. Kim is the founder of SOS Advisors (SOS,) a small, women-owned business that advises boards and c-suites on strategy and digital transformation. Her clients include 25% of the Washington Technology Top 100, the largest Federal agencies, premier research institutes, and top 50 universities and privately help mid-caps. SOS helps them bring strategies to life, then aligns people, structures, processes, and systems to transform operations and drive growth. SOS also helps identify and remove obstacles that limit individual and organizational success.
On top of all that her company does for other companies, Kim is one of my favorite women entrepreneurs. She is kind, funny, and has a bevy of entertaining stories and wisdom to share. If I see that she’s on a guest list, I do my best to attend the event to see her! So, if you are considering launching your own company to help others, or want to know know more about Kim’s journey starting multiple business, don’t miss her candid answers to my questions below.
What inspired you to create your company?
I always dreamed of being a business owner and community leader that contributed to the economy and made a difference in my community. I was captivated by the ideal of early businessmen and philanthropist like Andrew Carnegie. His philosophy of helping people help themselves still inspires me on this journey. My business creates economic opportunity that can make the world a better place for clients, employees, partners and the others we touch through our extended networked ecosystem.
A serial entrepreneur, I started at the age of ten with my first of four self-funded ventures and social enterprises before I was 21. Fast forward a decade or so and I did it again. I noticed a disconnect between what clients needed from consulting firms and the business model employed by large firms. With the advancement and full integration of technology across the enterprise. Industries, work forces and operating models were changing faster than organizations could adapt. Businesses needed not only subject matter expertise and high-level plans, but the independence, observation, convening & facilitating skills, problem articulation and that special ability to see patterns, connect the dots and create strategic road maps that organizations could use to implement and help people adapt to change. An entrepreneur with Big 4 and F500 experience, a solid Rolodex and consultative approach, I saw a solution to an ever-increasing problem and built a business that has helped hundreds of executives build agile, resilient, and sustainable organizations. Fundamentally, SOS was conceived and built to help leaders be their best and enable organizations to achieve their mission and gain preeminence in their market. We help “turn the ship” to navigate the tides of change.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Fundamentally, in my mind failure wasn’t an option. We started in rocky financial times, but we were a business with a product and customers from day one. There were some ups and downs, but it was pretty much a rocket ride up. Those things I advise against – complacency and comfort – came with continued success. There was a point when I was not prepared for the shift in my business. I had to “turn my own ship” and make decisions about the size and scale of the business going forward.
Who knows…this is an exciting time on the precipice of the 4th Industrial Revolution. A digital era with new models, structures and a new generation of workers. Disruption is everywhere. That creates opportunity and risk. We are positioned to help emerging firms scale and build market presence. Personally, I keep following in the footsteps of my philanthropic mentors knowing I have come this far and there is lots of runway ahead. Two things to remember: 1) it is a journey that comes with twists and turns and 2) obstacles present opportunities – prepare for the turn or hit the wall and pick up the pieces. Sometimes you prepare for the turn and still hit the wall. Keep the mission in mind and keep evolving and serving.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Define success in your terms. Lead don’t follow what others are doing. Get out in the world and forge your own path. Embrace you dreams and prepare
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“What a Feeling,” by Irene Cara from Flash Dance… The 80’s Anthem for making the impossible dreams come true – and the song and the movie tell the truth about what it takes to move from one world into another. It takes passion, hard work, persistence, and relationships.