Columbia Small Business Grows Despite Difficult Times
Karen R. Jenkins, President and CEO of KRJ Consulting (KRJC) founded her company to assist Family Services in preventing foreclosures during the housing crisis. The company was growing and expanding their offering to include consulting and professional services, until the Jenkins family experienced a crisis of their own. In 2015, Jenkins’ father became seriously ill and passed in January 2016. Shortly after, her young son had a ruptured brain aneurysm that uprooted the entire family to Atlanta, while her son went through rehabilitation. Despite all of these setbacks, she continued to work on her business from the waiting room of the rehabilitation center, and kept her business alive.
Jenkins used many of the services provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration to build her business to what it is today. In 2012, Jenkins went to the Columbia Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to get assistance in working with the federal government. The SBDC and PTAC worked to together to get KRJC certified in the 8(a) Business Development Program, a nine-year program for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. Jenkins also participated in the Emerging Leaders program in 2018, an intensive executive level program that is intended to accelerate growth of high-potential small businesses.
In the face of adversity, Jenkins’ business stayed alive to flourish into a multi-million-dollar business. Even with the setbacks, KRJC experienced exponential growth since entering into the 8(a) program, many years even tripling revenues from the previous year. Even after attending the Emerging Leaders program, Jenkins increased revenues by over 71 percent from the previous year. What started out as a one-woman business has grown into a staff of 30 employees and 15 contractors.
“Although there were huge life crises, our business was able to weather the storm,” said Jenkins. “With the right assistance from SBA, SBDC and the PTAC we were still able to grow a successful business through those challenging times.”