Q&A With Mia Paulus  Founder and CEO of The Centr ( Part 1 )

But first, a little about Mia…

I have always been an entrepreneur. Ever since elementary school it’s just been a part of me. It’s always been something that I love. I started going to school for entrepreneurship at Utah State and in the midst of that I got married and moved back to Boise, ID and there were no entrepreneurship programs offered at Boise State. So I ended up going to business classes and was introduced to my first accounting class which I enjoyed. I loved the problem solving and troubleshooting involved (makes sense why I love entrepreneurship!). I ended up getting my accounting degree and worked at a couple CPA firms and through that I had the opportunity to work with a bunch of business owners. When meeting with business owners I started to see that they were all unhappy, overworked and didn’t have that spark or the excitement that got them into business to begin with. This struck me hard because at the time I was wanting to go full-time as an entrepreneur and I was wondering is this what I am signing up for!? I thought–there has to be a better way or something that can be done to help entrepreneurs. So I decided to quit my job in 2006 to pursue this vision that I had to help business owners. The business model that I started has evolved throughout the years as the needs of business owners have changed. In my journey to address the needs of entrepreneurs there have been things that I have tried that did not produce the lasting solution that I hoped. That is what led me to create the Teamsourcing concept that is used today within my company, The Centr.

Q: Are you happy with your business?

A: I absolutely LOVE what I do! When I got remarried I didn’t have to work for financial reasons and at the time my business was losing money. So it was the perfect set-up to put being an entrepreneur aside and focus on being the full-time mom I had always longed to be. In a lot of ways it seemed like it would be so much easier–rather than trying to be wonder woman and balance having a large family, being a CEO, running a business, etc. So I spent some time praying about it and in that time I received a firm NO from God. At that moment I realized there was a reason for this company and that it was a calling. So at that point I stopped asking to be released and realized that my purpose through my business was something the world needs and is ready for. So I LOVE what I do. I wake up every morning excited because I love the vision and I love the creativity it requires. I also love the team that has been built. They are creating and performing well beyond what I even imagined and I feel blessed to have them propel my vision further than I ever could have alone.       

Q: What would you have changed about your business had you known how certain circumstances played out.

A: I have always been a believer that if I look back at all the trials and experiences I have had there was a purpose and that makes me grateful for them despite the challenge. Every trial or difficulty I have had has either taught me something or it has changed the trajectory of my business in a way that I never would have done on my own. With that said, there are things that would have been really cool to not have to do again. Such as, not hiring a bunch of visionaries because that doesn’t get the job done. At one point I had a TON of people who had great vision and as a result we had great meetings and brainstorming sessions. We spent hours on business plans but I realized that as inspiring as it was that I needed to have people who are different from me, that have strengths that complement mine. So the takeaway is don’t hire a bunch of “you.”  Another thing is to begin with, it’s not a bad idea to be lean and mean. For a while I had the thought that if you build it they will come–so I had a big office and more employees than I needed to be ready for growth. Then I realized the angst between operating lean and mean and teetering on growth is what creates the processes that you need and works through problems you have. So although at times and can be difficult there is value in it. 

Q: What are some mistakes that you could have avoided that entrepreneurs would need to know now?

A: Not spending two years (like I did) trying to get to the bottom of my to-do list. I literally spent two years working, 16 hour days at the most and 10 hours at the least, as hard and as fast as I could trying to get to the bottom of my to-do list. Thinking if I could just conquer my to-do’s THEN I would have time to market, strategize, etc. I was organized, and would be responsive and reply to people really quickly all which made my to-do list ever-increasing. I had a lot of pride in my “efficiency.” However, after an unsuccessful campaign to conquer my to-do list I started to get this mindset that as visionaries it is our JOB to drop the ball. We need our teams to be there to be able to pick it up and keep us in that visionary mode. Now my approach is totally different. If I miss an email I (and others) understand that it comes with the territory of the role that I am in. I am not in my inbox all the time and if I am then I am not doing my job. I have loosened up and relaxed a little bit. So many entrepreneurs think that they have to control everything, do everything, make it perfect. The sooner you accept that things are imperfect and you empower a solid team around you to bring excellence to your vision, that is when the magic happens.  

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