SBA Los Angeles District Success Story

Native of Chicago, Illinois Ronda Jackson is a third generation entrepreneur, a mother, a licensed contractor, a certified interior designer and no stranger to hard work.

Ronda formed Décor Interior Design at the desk of her day job in 1997 as a sole proprietor, and incorporated her business in 2006. Despite the challenges of raising a family and growing a business, Ronda models the successful balance of both.

Led by Ronda Jackson, Décor Interior Design Inc. is a Los Angeles-based, SBA 8(a) certified, woman-owned facility resource company specializing in tenant improvements, interior support and grounds maintenance. In the early stages of her business, she operated as a soloprenuer from her bedroom closet. Her residential client list included doctors, lawyers, and vice presidents of Fortune 500 companies who embraced her work ethic and design talent. Unfortunately, good design and quality products were not enough to keep the company going over the course of sixteen years.

To keep her business alive after the recession hit, Ronda had to convert Décor Interior Design from a boutique residential design firm. Her combination of skills and talents has afforded her the opportunity to expand her residential portfolio into corporate environments. She started taking on all kinds of work, from designing handicap-accessible bathrooms to office renovations, oncology clinics, interior and exterior painting; carpet care and construction clean up. Décor has evolved into a facility support contractor, primarily for the federal government, that offers interior design, tenant improvement and custodial and grounds maintenance services. Today, Décor Interior Design, Inc. has more than 20 employees, 30 sub-contractors, and has completed projects in eight states. Décor’s services and products seamlessly transition from design specification to installation and upkeep.

Part of Décor’s growth strategy is participation in the SBA’s 8(a) program. Access to federal contracts and impeccable past performance has grown her company tremendously. The company’s revenue climbed from $335,853 in 2009 to more than $1.1 million projected in 2013, an increase of over 325 percent.

Ronda has a passion for people, thirst for knowledge, and the ability to ignite the best in others. A skillset that fairs her well both professionally and personally. Her ambition, perseverance to sustain and maintain, have resulted in continued to growth. To date, Ronda’s accomplishments include:

  • Increasing Décor’s profitability 250% in the past 12 months
  • Increasing hiring and retention 400% in the past 12 months
  • Negotiating and securing a seven-figure contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Partnering with Kaiser Permanente as a tier-one vendor
  • Acquiring a GSA Schedule for Comprehensive Furniture Management services
  • Expanding Décor’s offering to include specialty construction, custodial services, and facility maintenance.
  • Teaming with other women, minority, and disabled-veteran owned small business to increase capacity
  • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Graduate
  • NAWBO Peak Leadership Academy Graduate

Recognized as a leader in the community, Ronda was nominated for the Women Making a Difference Award in 2013 by the Los Angeles Business Journal and served on the board for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers as Professional Development Director.

Ronda’s interiors are engaging, innovative, and memorable. Likewise, her community service is empowering, compassionate and inspirational. Ronda makes a significant contribution to the community through youth mentoring, volunteerism, and career counseling to emerging and established professionals. Her passion and value for successful living stimulates the minds, hearts, and actions of women and youth. Her living example to cope with adversity and achieve success has inspired others to start businesses, attain their goals and live their dreams. As founder and lead designer of Décor Interior Design Inc., she has created an expanding enterprise that is committed to service, progressive growth strategies, and philanthropic community endeavors. She has:

  • Mentored teens through community art programs in underserved communities
  • Donated time, design services, and furnishings to several Los Angeles faith-based and non-profit organizations
  • Partnered with community organizations to provide low-income and senior housing projects throughout the Southwest

Ronda, a NCIDQ certified and a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers, studied at the University of California Los Angeles in Interior and Environmental Design. Ronda was also a featured designer on HGTV’s “Designer’s Challenge.” The charismatic and dynamic entrepreneur has hurdled obstacles throughout her entire career. Her business model has evolved over the years but one thing has not changed: her firm belief in helping clients, employees, and colleagues achieve their best. She has always focused on listening and working closely to realize the balance of what they want, when they need it, and how she can be of service.

Reckless to Rewards Huffington Post

We all start businesses for many reasons: We are good at something; someone told us we are good at something or you had no other options. My steps from solopreneur to federal contractor were closer to the latter. The journey is rocky, reckless and only until recent, rewarding. After 15 years in business, I was awarded my first seven-figure contract from the federal government in 2012. Now, before you cheer or congratulate me learn from my mistakes.

Federal contracting is inundated with what seems to be redundant paperwork and a laundry list of acronyms not found in Webster’s Dictionary. Even if you think you are ready, you are not ready. The faint of heart would welcome a cubicle and coffee mug to the daunting task of bidding on a federal project. The competition is the least of your worries. They are in the same boat. Being the proud business owner I am, I treaded along with no guidance or assistance. I bumbled through the application with more requests for clarifications than questions on the original application.

Rule Number One: ASK FOR HELP

There are free and low-cost resources to help you. Services range from business development, government contracting, and financing. One resource that was very helpful was the Small Business Administration. Not only did I get help with government contracting, I was also able to acquire several socio-economic certifications including the 8(a). There is a new commodity in my company’s portfolio…the SBA.

With that I submitted the bid. Now, on paper I have promised I can do an insurmountable amount of work in an unrealistic amount of time for a bargain-basement-blue-plate-special-price. And at the end of the day pay employees, rent, and hopefully myself. Are you sweating? I was.

Rule Number Two: ASK FOR HELP (AGAIN)

Did you know that any business problem you are having there is someone else who’s had it and survived? I welcomed enrollment in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. The challenges of product, process, prospects and profitability were tackled head on. My prayers were answered. After graduating from the third cohort at Los Angeles City College, I was able to clearly define my services and help my client recognize my value. I ultimately negotiated a fair price for all parties and was awarded the contract.

Rule Number Three: Go Fishing

This is the part of the day where I close my eyes and picture everything I want for my business; our new office, multi-millions dollar contracts, and family vacations. With my eyes closed everything seems within reach. But, who can run a business with their eyes closed? Like the old Proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” we need to constantly retool and rethink our business strategies. My business practices from 15 years ago were adolescent and no match for the US government. Tapping into the business resources available in most metropolises opens your eyes to the growth potential of your company. As you follow rules one and two to steadily grow your business, keep careful watch on not only the product or service you provide, but also creating an arsenal of resources and increase your growth exponentially. Be vigilant, ask questions, get help.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses program. The Goldman Sachs Foundation is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.