A self-confessed bookworm and a “kosher ham,” Nina Kaufman is a small business champion—not just your ordinary business attorney. Forbes Magazine calls her “One of the 25 Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship.” The U.S. Small Business Administration named her their regional Women in Business Champion of the Year for her creative approaches to educating and advocating for small businesses.
In over 20 years in business, Kaufman has helped thousands of entrepreneurs in the generation of hundreds of millions of dollars. A trusted thought leader, Kaufman reaches over 2 million readers each month on Entrepreneur.com, via media appearances, and has received a multitude of awards.
She has been featured in:
TV Appearances include:
A Mets fan by marriage and former stand-up comic, Kaufman has learned to find the funny in cycles of great promise and lackluster performance. She is a frequent speaker—conducting keynote, workshop, and breakout presentations–for business conferences and entrepreneurship groups and organizations across the country like the Small Business Administration, the NYT Small Business Summit. Office Depot, Wells Fargo Bank, the National Association for Women Business Owners, NY XPO for Business, the Levin Institute/Kauffman Foundation, the BlogHer Business Conference, The Small Business Tech Summit, and many others.
Some tidbits you might not see on Nina’s standard bio:
Out of great adversity comes great strength. Pastor Joe Eisenbrandt
The inspiration for our success, our model, and our approach didn’t come from a thunderbolt striking down from the heavens. It wasn’t presented to us on a silver platter. It came from a dark moment … and a lowly pastry.
“I was at my wit’s end.
Had tried 6 ways to Sunday to grow my business, a 12-year old law firm. I just couldn’t figure it out. And honestly, I really wondered, “Am I a moron?” “What the hell’s the matter with me that I can’t figure this stuff out? Why is everyone doing well and I’m stuck?” It was such a struggle, I wanted to quit. Sell out to my business partner and go away. I wanted to leave. I was done.
So I went to a business valuation expert. I showed him the numbers, the clients, the staffing. And I said “Tell me. What’s a fair offer I can make my partner? What is all this worth?” He took a deep breath—which is never good. He looked me right in the eye–that kind where you know, “here it comes.” He held up a sprinkled doughnut and said, “You see this doughnut here? What you got is the hole.” Whaaa? “There’s nothing to sell,” he continued. “Your business depends too much on you. If you want out—cheap and fast– close the doors. Resign. Move on. ”
I was so humiliated I didn’t whether to laugh or cry. Me, the bigshot business lawyer. I had to walk away because I had nothing but the hole in a doughnut.
I had put my heart and my soul into that business for 12 years. Running down the wrong road very enthusiastically. Thinking, “well, I’m gonna get there eventually.” And I didn’t. What did I get? I put off getting married. Didn’t have kids. Got thyroid problems for the stress.
But I wouldn’t give up. It reminds me of one of my favorite Edison quotes: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Well, I’ve clearly waded through the 10,000 ways that don’t work. What are the ways that DO work?”Nina Kaufman
Well, I did what I do really well: I got my geek on. My inner bookworm. Back to my lawyerly roots. I dug into the research. I read everything. I interviewed experts. I talked to clients differently. I looked for “what’s missing?” from all the noise and information out there. I began to curate shiny gold nuggets that others overlooked. I started delving into “how I design my business so it’s not dependent on me on all the time?” How can I create a business that can become a cash cow … with the option to cash out BIG if I choose?
(Guess what? They don’t teach you any of that in law school. Hmmmph.).
I want other business owners to get a shortcut to their success—and not have to blow through the time, talent, and treasure that I did. It takes its toll. And to paraphrase Emerson, if “one life can breathe easier because you have lived,” it’s a good day.
There IS a way—many, in fact—to build your business so you can have a life in the process. The important thing is to systematize what’s working well, streamline to cut the waste, and train yourself to step back from the day-to-day.
Just know there’s light at the end of the tunnel … and it isn’t an oncoming train.
That’s our motivation.