Ariane Kirkpatrick Builds Confidence Through 10KSB
The AKA Team president and CEO learned strategic thinking, value of partnerships in program
Ariane Kirkpatrick started off the way a lot of small-business owners start off: She found her way into an industry — in this case, construction — she liked the work, and things progressed from there.
Kirkpatrick, who founded The AKA Team in 2009, started off working in the business, performing the day-to-day tasks necessary for her company to function. But like so many others, she gradually realized she needed to work on the business.
“When we first started, it was boots-on-the-ground construction,” Kirkpatrick said. “But we eventually moved into some construction management, and the business continued to grow.”
To nurture that growth, Kirkpatrick needed to develop additional high-level management skills. That’s why, in 2015, she enrolled in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) program at Cuyahoga Community College.
“The timing was perfect, because right as I was in the program, we went into a new partnership and opened a waterproofing division,” she said. “Entering into a new partnership, I needed to have broader skills and knowledge in things like legal requirements and accounting. If it wasn’t for 10,000 Small Businesses, I might not have been able to facilitate that deal on a strategic level.”
In addition to the technical knowledge Kirkpatrick gained in the program, she said 10KSB taught her to be fearless.
“Going through the program, you build a better sense of confidence,” she said. “You become more confident in your ability to think on a strategic level, to develop your vision for your business and execute it.”
Since graduating in 2016, Kirkpatrick has grown The AKA Team, based in Cleveland, from a staff of 15 to more than 100 employees, with annual revenue of $10 million across its four divisions: construction management, special projects, commercial cleaning and waterproofing.
Kirkpatrick recommends 10KSB to any business owner or manager looking to strengthen their leadership skills.
“I’ve done other programs like this, and they’ve all helped me in some capacity. But 10,000 Small Businesses really took it to a new level for me,” she said. “It covers everything — how to be a better businessperson, a better entrepreneur, and how to devote time and resources to philanthropy, which is another passion of mine. It also helped inspire me to become a mentor to other small-business owners.
“It really has changed the game for me, and I recommend the program as often as I can.”
March 16, 2020
Erik Cassano, 216-987-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org