Diane Snead, 30, became a mechanical engineer with the understanding that one day she would start her own engineering firm. After several years in the field, she realized she could help more people by breaking out on her own. “I’m not your ‘typical’ engineer,” she said. “I’m just as suited behind a computer as I am in front of crowd of a hundred.” In 2009, she opened Type A Professional Organizers, and you can find her giving presentations around town to women’s organizations and networking groups. She helps them get organized so they can get to work on making money.
How does being an engineer help you help businesses get organized?
Engineers are all about the process and seeking the most efficient, cost effective way to solve the problem. I’m able to look at businesses objectively. As a mechanical engineer, I managed multi-million dollar commercial projects, usually as the prime consultant. This meant I was not only responsible for the mechanical side of design, but coordinating with other construction disciplines, too. There’s no way to effectively design, coordinate and manage projects of that magnitude without fine-tuned, time-management skills. The businesses I work with today may not be managing construction projects, but they still need to coordinate with their team. Being innately process-oriented allows me to quickly identify root causes to a business’ bottlenecks. To further my training, I became a Certified Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma, a process improvement methodology used by Fortune 500 companies to literally save billions of dollars every year. I bring that high-level thinking to my clients.
What is the biggest issue businesses face that keeps them from being as productive as they can be?
Many businesses assume they just don’t have enough time to get everything done and they in essence give up. This is a huge misconception — we all have the same amount of time in the day. Sometimes, it feels like work gets in the way of doing work and it’s very easy to blame distractions. It’s how you manage your actions, not your time that determines your productivity.
What is your No. 1 tip for a small business on how to reduce clutter?
Make decisions! You decided to bring that paper or that item into your office, so you can also decide where to file it or when to get rid of it. It’s imperative to create a work environment that is supportive of your success. Clutter not only takes up physical space, but occupies mental space as well — it’s hard to focus on priorities when you have stacks and stacks of papers staring at you. The clutter isn’t the problem, though; it’s a lack of processes. If you create efficient processes, the “clutter problem” goes away. These processes always start with making the right decisions about the “stuff” in your office.
How do you think young professionals, especially those who own their own business like you, are received in Colorado Springs?
It depends on the individual. Many successful, multi-billion dollar businesses were started by professionals in their 20s. Colorado Springs may not have as many young entrepreneurs as other areas of the country. But for the most part, if you can assert yourself and demonstrate how you benefit the business environment, you’ll be taken seriously.
What could Colorado Springs do as a community to retain or attract more young professionals and young business owners?
There are many resources available to professionals looking to start their own business. However, it can be very challenging persuading young professionals to step away from a guaranteed salary and pursue their own businesses. I think we need to have more access to professionals who have “been there, done that” so there is a personal connection in how to launch a successful business. Young professionals need to feel secure with their status in the community as a direct provider in order for them to want to stay. Colorado Springs is branded by its outdoor activities. Local businesses should show young professionals that they can not only have a fulfilling activity schedule here, but a dynamic work environment, too. n CSBJ