PODCAST: Firm CEO shares her perspective on leadership, fear and goal-setting‬‬

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

For Lori Kaiser, CPA, growing her firm, Kaiser Consulting, and reaching for new goals over the years has always been part of the plan – even as it’s exceeded her original expectations. 

“When I decided to turn my consulting work of a year or two into a business, I thought that a firm of 10 or 12 people would be just right,” Kaiser said. “So now today having 85 people was not really in the initial plan.” 

Woman smiling for camera.

Kaiser, the CEO and Founder of Kaiser Consulting, and chair-elect of the OSCPA Executive Board, joined The State of Business podcast this week to discuss lessons she’s learned in growing her business. She began consulting work after leaving her job at KPMG to have more time to spend with her growing family. In the first few years she said she only accepted projects she was excited about. Even then, she knew there was more work to be done than she could handle alone and reached out to former colleagues and friends in similar situations. 

In the beginning, Kaiser said one of the toughest parts of the business was convincing large, corporate businesses that her part-time flexible employees could do successful client work. Learning about legal contracts, marketing, IT and other areas business owners must familiarize themselves with was also new territory. 

“And as a new business owner, I didn't have enough money to pay for that expertise,” she said. “A lot of times I asked friends to help me in these areas. And when I started Kaiser Consulting, there wasn't the internet. If I wanted to figure something out, I had to get in my car, drive to the library and find the resources to answer my questions.” 

Throughout the years, Kaiser said she has had to evolve her own leadership style and focus on working on the business, not in the business. She began to be asked to do more public speaking, an area she wasn’t comfortable with for a long time. To grow her speaking skills she started small, talking to a high school accounting class and expanding to larger and larger groups. Her growth in public speaking culminated in her giving a commencement speech about a year ago to 7,000 people. 

When speaking at events, Kaiser said she often hears people bring up a fear of failure and not going after their goals as a result. 

“People will say to me, ‘you seem fearless.’ Well, it's not that I'm fearless,” she said. “It's that I feel the fear. But I'm going to take small steps forward, and, and get some momentum and make progress. And I might not succeed at everything I try the first time, but I'm going to be persistent. Feeling the fear is part of the process and moving through it anyway is what's going to differentiate people that hit their goals, and those that just dream about them and think about them.”