Brown & Meyers
536 Washington Ave., Portland
When a supervisor at Bath Iron Works asked her to get him a cup of coffee, Kate Meyers knew it was time to earn her bachelor’s degree and start working for herself. She struck out on her own in 1994, first as a court reporter, adding medical transcription to her repertoire soon thereafter. Seventeen years later, her business has grown to include document scanning and offsite record storage, which were added to the fold in 2008.
“It was the absolute worse time to add anything, but now things are going well,” she says. “In all, it’s been 17 years, and it’s been a blast.”
Meyers, who is looking forward to receiving her MBA degree from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., this spring, employs 10 people in what she calls a family-friendly environment.
Meyers grew up in Portland and lives with her husband in Scarborough. She is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, a national organization that advocates for women-owned businesses. Brown & Meyers is the only firm of its kind in New England to earn such certification. Meyers, who is on the certification committee for New England, says she enjoys helping other women-owned businesses.
“I find it very rewarding,” she says.
Q: What were your most important needs in getting started?
A: To create a warm and friendly environment where there was no back stabbing or gossip. To foster a diverse culture where success would come to those who worked hard and not based upon their sex, their ability to suck up or anything else.
Q: What do you think the advantages are of being a female entrepreneur?
A: I’m not really sure there are any advantages. I think the nimble survive. Those that recognize upcoming changes in their particular business climate that could potentially be harmful and are able to figure out how to morph around that and turn it into a positive. Those that are visionaries and can foresee opportunities to seize. Those that are compassionate and hard working, brutally honest and love what they do. I think those are all traits that foster success in any business, whether it is woman owned or male owned.
Q: What advice would you give an aspiring woman entrepreneur?
A: Get out of your comfort zone and get out there and network, network, network. Live fearlessly. People will help you if you ask, so don’t feel like you’re all alone. There are also many women CEO networking groups that are wonderful. Try to help someone else every week. You’ll feel great doing that and it will pay dividends.
Q: If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
A: My biggest and hardest lesson was learning to hire slow and fire fast. When you’re just starting out, it becomes overwhelming when you start to grow. Eventually, there comes a time when you need to make your first hire. When this happened to me, I was so overwhelmed with keeping everything going that I basically hired the first warm body that came through the door. Huge mistake. You really need to take the time to properly vet possible candidates. By not doing this you will mostly likely waste a lot of time and money and then have to start all over from square one. This was a huge lesson for me.