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 soul into that firm. Made a lot of personal sacrifices—delayed marriage, no kids, developed health problems. Ran down the wrong road very enthusiastically. Deluding myself that I’ll get there eventually. (Which I didn’t).
My old firm closed on December 31 that year.
My new firm, Ask The Business Lawyer, opened for business on January 1.
This time, I got to focus exclusively on my passion -- small business owners. Built a terrific reputation for serving and advocating for the small business community. Won awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Commendation from Forbes as an entrepreneurship Influencer. Had a blog and column on Entrepreneur.com. Countless media appearances and speaking engagements.
That was a great run for 10 years. (And yes, the firm still works with legal clients in NY).
But something was missing.
There was a gnawing sense that law alone wasn't enough. My clients wanted more from their businesses. More than just law.
And while it terrified me to admit ...
... so did I.
I hadn't taken a breath between the demise of my first firm and the start of my second to ask ...
What was the point of all this activity? What kind of life did I want to lead?
In other words, it was no longer about what I could do for my business ... but what my business could do for me...
...which wasn't going to happen within the confines of the traditional law firm model.
Ugh. Back to Square One ..?
I was reminded of something Thomas Edison said. He said:
I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.Thomas Edison
So, I went out and got my geek on. (I do that well). Unleashed my inner bookworm. 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. Began to curate shiny gold nuggets that others overlooked. Started delving into how can I design my business so it’s not dependent on me on all the time?
And asked: What’s involved in owning the kind of business that doesn’t own you?
(Guess what? They don't teach you any of that in law school. Hmmmph.).
But I found the path … and have created a great life in the process. A healthy marriage (plus, we run lots of 5K races together), a thriving business, the freedom to help care for my elderly mother, and the opportunity to serve as a spiritual leader in my community.
The important thing is to systematize what’s working well, cut the waste that's clogging up the works, and train yourself to step back from the day-to-day.
In other words,
Streamline your business. Simplify your life. Grow both.
That’s what underlies all of our tools, resources, and programs here at Business Exponential.
Like our Business G.P.S. philosophy, which helps business owners prioritize. And our 5-step S.C.A.L.E. system, which shows you the elements to running a business that doesn't run you. Just to name a few.
There IS a way—many, in fact—to build your business so you can have a life in the process. A good life.
If I can help you do that – if I have helped one life breathe easier (to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson) – it’s a good day.
Just know there’s light at the end of the tunnel … and it isn’t an oncoming train.
That’s my WHY.
Let me know on our Facebook Group.