Nation’s Leading Printing and Graphics Franchise Monthly Franchisee Series Focuses on Studio Owners Littie Brown and her Bold Approach to Business
Small business is the heart of America’s economy. The Small Business Association determined small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms. Littie Brown is among the millions who determined entrepreneurship was the best course of action for professional and personal satisfaction. Littie Brown, along with longtime friend and confidant Karen Brown (no relation), are the owners of SpeedPro Marietta (Ga.).
Littie Brown joined SpeedPro, the nation’s leading printing and graphics franchise, after an extensive and accomplished career, including 26 years with Xerox. Littie’s strong sales background lead Grainger Industrial Supply to recruit her as Southeast Regional Sales Vice President. She served in that role for eight years. “It was going great up until the final year,” says Littie. “They wanted changes, something different that I wasn’t necessarily on board with. I determined it was a good time to do something new in my life, so I left on a positive note.”
But Littie didn’t immediately jump into the role of a SpeedPro business owner.
“There were several intriguing options I was considering at the time, and some of those didn’t involve entrepreneurship. I looked at running a non-profit in the Atlanta metro, I even looked at becoming a professor. That thought quickly subsided once they told me about the salary,” Littie said laughingly.
For years, Littie and Karen had discussed the thought of owning their own business. When Karen left her job, they were ready to transform those thoughts into reality. The pair sought out the services of a franchise consultant who highlighted a few businesses, including a high-end barbershop, a custom closet franchise and a cleaning services franchise. There was one that stood out.
“SpeedPro had an already established brand name,” says Littie. “The previous owner was looking to sell the business and it was in a great location for us. It was in the area where we live and attend church. The franchise location was already built out and had a little bit of a customer base. Karen and I felt like we could excel once we got the business jumpstarted.”
Being an entrepreneur opened Littie’s eyes to how this country relies on small business owners.
“After spending my life in corporate, I didn’t realize the importance of small businesses. That includes how many there are and how they make the country move. I have great appreciation for people who have been small business owners their entire lives. I now understand what it is like to rely 100-percent on yourself. We rely on bigger companies, but we’re going to push work to our fellow small businesses when we can.”
Business ownership isn’t a foreign concept to Littie. She also owns a real estate company and accredits her thought process in the corporate world preparing her for small business ownership.
“I always ran my corporate job like I owned that part of the business,” Littie says. “The SpeedPro business model was the closest to being in the same B2B, VP environment to which I had grown accustomed. Being in the corporate setting enhanced my sales skills, and I learned how to get the most of the employees I managed.”
It’s that experience with sales and success, that had Littie full of excitement when she finally signed on to become a SpeedPro franchisee in 2013. “We had a lot of support from family and friends and some awesome mentors,” she says.
Littie’s support system is deep. She is close to members of her church and is active in Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority established by African-American college women. Littie is also a part of another proud group, the nearly 10-million women who own businesses.
Littie says being a woman, and a person of color, helps her SpeedPro franchise. “When you look different, some people want to know more about you, therefore bringing in more business.” Littie relies on the relationships built on years of networking to garner long-sustaining and revenue-generating business.
A recent relationship that has been built includes Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. The team was looking for a large format printing firm as it moved into a new stadium and Littie Brown put a bid out. When Littie failed to hear the results, she reached out to the County Commissioner, someone she knew through previous networking. The commissioner put her in direct contact with the Braves’ president. A few calls later, she landed a contract with the baseball team.
“The proudest moment was when I was told the Braves chose me because they knew me, they knew the SpeedPro name, and that we delivered great work and service. This was said in front of a room full of business people, which resulted in additional jobs,” Littie says.
Of the many reasons why Littie loves Atlanta, she says she loves that it is the unofficial capital of the South and is a magnificent small business hub, particularly for women.
“Cobb County is a fast-growing county, people want to live here,” says Littie. “The quality of life is outstanding. The community is very supportive. It’s a great place to live, raise a family and have friends. Cobb County is a great place inside a fantastic Atlanta metro.”
That doesn’t mean the nearly five years as a business owner has always been smooth sailing. There have been some obstacles. “Managing financing and cash flow is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced,” Littie says. However, she’s always up for any challenge. “I’ve learned that I can do pretty much anything. If I can install a vinyl sign on a building, I can just about do anything. You don’t know what you can until you put your mind to it. If I must do it, I can figure it out.”
Littie has figured out what it takes to run a business effectively. However, she’s quick to share the credit with her co-owner.
“I wouldn’t be in the business without Karen,” says Littie. “She keeps the operation going. She’s an extremely quick learner. Karen has self-taught everything we need to know about printing. Having a business partner with the same values and same focus on success allows us to run a business efficiently. We have cultivated a family environment, which makes running the business fun. We can get mad at each other, have our disagreements, but at the end of the day, we come back and keep going.”
Littie’s business goal is to get to one million dollars in annual sales. Her ultimate goal is to get to the point where she can resume her love of travel and golfing. Littie knows she’s in a good position to accomplish those goals because of her ownership of a SpeedPro studio.
“SpeedPro is a B2B company on the cutting edge of all new trends in printing and graphics. Companies still need to market their products, so graphic solutions are not going anywhere. Whether its vehicle wraps or window graphics, SpeedPro does it better than all others.”
Littie and Karen are loving life as SpeedPro franchise owners. For more information on the SpeedPro franchise opportunity and what it takes to be a successful franchise owners, like Littie and Karen, please visit speedprofranchising.com.