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Abbott Supplier Diversity Fund Helps Ohio Market Research Firm Address Obstacles to Growth

(March 30, 2023) Read original article at LISC Stories.

For two decades, Kristin Harper managed revenue, profit, and innovation for some of the world’s most recognizable brands at companies such as Procter & Gamble, Hershey, and Cardinal Health. As she advanced in her corporate career, she realized that her skills in marketing and insight-driven innovation were not aligned to the needs of her employer at the time.

“I knew that I could use my gifts and experiences to make a bigger impact on businesses, brands and people,” says Harper.

After her husband suggested she consider entrepreneurship, Harper took the leap and launched her own business, Driven to Succeed, to provide leadership development to people looking to advance in their careers. She wrote a book, The Heart of a Leader, to share the “what” and “how” of successful business leadership.

“My original plan for Driven to Succeed was to do keynote speaking and training based on my book, but it was 2020 and God had other plans,” she says, referring to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. “So, I went back to the drawing board and explored how to use my gifts to help businesses grow."

Harper expanded the services of Driven to Succeed beyond professional leadership development to include market research targeted toward Fortune 500 companies and leading brands. With two divisions, the services of Driven to Succeed include qualitative market research, quantitative research and analysis, brainstorming, innovation and professional development.

While Harper has built a successful business, the traditional structure of industry contracts has kept her from growing the enterprise the way she'd like. Driven to Succeed receives payment for 50% of a contract within 45-75 days of executing it, with the remaining balance paid 45-75 days after project completion. This means Harper has to front the money to pay project expenses, including payroll, limiting her ability to take on new contracts and grow her business.

In her book The Heart of a Leader, Harper reflects on some key learnings from her career in marketing and brand management, which includes the need to control the “controllables.” The structure of industry contracts is not among Harper’s “controllables,” but thanks to a $100,000 loan and a $46,000 growth capital investment through the Abbott-LISC Initiative to Support Diverse Businesses in Health, the issue will no longer be an obstacle to growth.

The loan is helping Harper bridge that financing gap and hire a new director of business development so Driven to Succeed can execute and seek new contracts simultaneously, instead of waiting for payout. As for the growth capital investment, it is funding technology upgrades that will strengthen the enterprise’s infrastructure as it grows.

“I'm so grateful for LISC and Abbott’s belief in me and my business,” Harper says. “This is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for us.”

With this new capital, more is within Harper’s control, and she’s using it to fuel growth.


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