Carissa Reiniger – Founder of Silver Lining Ltd

[quote style=”boxed”]I need “in person” time. I block off a chunk of time, put myself in a room with my laptop and a white board and just figure it out. I don’t leave until I have moved from idea to action.[/quote]

Carissa Reiniger is an entrepreneur on a mission to create projects and companies that make a big difference in the world. She started Silver Lining Ltd at the age of 22, almost 8 years ago- on a mission to help more small businesses become sustainable and profitable. She developed the Silver Lining Action Plan (SLAP) methodology – which is a 5 step process that helps a small business with revenues between 100K and 2M set and hit financial goals. Think Weight Watchers for small businesses. She has written two books about how to grow small business and has a third book coming out May, 2013 called Thank You Small Business: We can change the economy one small business at a time. She is an investor and/or advisor to a portfolio of other companies.

In addition to her mission to see more small business succeed, she is active in the arts – everything from investing in theater and contemporary art to currently working on producing and directing her own play and documentary.

In her spare time she loves to cook dinner for friends, make trips to Uganda to see a group of children she has come to love and care for, is working on her pilot’s license and is up for almost any adventure that comes her way.

What are you working on right now?

After 8 years running Silver Lining I am starting to contemplate who the best next person is to run that company. I am spending a lot of time working on the Thank You Small Business campaign ( and having a ton of fun writing a play and putting together a documentary- both exploring how relationships are working (or not) around the world.

Where did the idea for Silver Lining Ltd come from?

I was working in a large corporation making good money but not very passionate about what I was doing. I went out to networking groups to meet new people and kept finding small business owners who were really passionate about what they did, worked so hard but weren’t making any money. I didn’t want to believe that you had to give up passion for money or money for passion and quit my job to create a company where I could help people make money doing what they loved.

How do you make money?

Silver Lining’s business model has evolved a few major times. We started as a consulting company, then shifted into more of a training model. Now we have a cloud based online tool that allows a small business owner to build and execute their SLAP in a fully automated way. We have partners and re-sellers who license the methodology and the online tool and use it to help their members/clients grow their small businesses.

What does your typical day look like?

This has changed recently- I am starting to take much more time for myself. I usually get up at a reasonable time- about 8. Drink some tea, answer emails, do calls, go to a class at the gym, and then start a day full of meetings. I spend almost my entire day in back to back meetings with everyone from my team to potential clients to people I am working on projects or businesses with. I like to make sure my last meeting of the day is with a “business friend” – someone who I have a social and business relationship with and would be fun to end my “work” day with. Most nights I end up at dinner or a fun event or something like a play or movie with friends.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I need “in person” time. I block off a chunk of time, put myself in a room with my laptop and a white board and just figure it out. I don’t leave until I have moved from idea to action.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Working with freedom. actually has a slogan that I really love. “Work is what you do instead of where you go”. I love that the traditional version “work”- going to work from 9-5 and slogging through a day in anticipation of your “free night”, and then slogging through a week in anticipation of a weekend, and then slogging through an entire career in anticipation of retirement- isn’t the only version of work. With technology and new thinking- people can work from anywhere and it allows for so much more creativity and freedom.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

My first job I worked at a diaper cleaning service. I worked in the back with the washers and dryers- washing, drying and packing new orders. It was literally a crappy job! But I learnt the power of just getting over yourself and understanding that no work is beneath you and sometimes you just have to get the job done.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would ask for help earlier. I started my company at 22 and I was so determined to prove myself that I never asked for help. I tried to appear like I had it all figured out all the time. I was determined to live up to my reputation as a young, on the rise rockstar entrepreneur. And the truth is that I would have been even more successful if I had learnt earlier in my career to ask for help and advice in situations where I did not know what to do.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Learn from others. I spend SO much of my time with other people and I am a firm believer that you can learn something from absolutely everyone. I make it a practice to find one thing that I admire, can learn from or want to incorporate more of into my life from every single person that I meet.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Well – I have had way more than one! I feel like I have them all the time- but I honestly wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have learnt my biggest lessons from my biggest mistakes and I have become a better person because I learnt those lessons and got through tough times. One of my most significant failures was in my early days- we were growing extremely fast and I couldn’t keep up. We never raised capital so I was bootstrapping the company and doing short term loans to cover payroll or our operating costs as we did the cashflow game. Before I realized it I was in serious debt and had absolutely no idea how to get out of it. It has taken me years to pay it off and I definitely lost some relationships along the way- of people that I really care about and am horribly sad to have seen go sour. I felt pretty bad about myself and it took me a long time to reconcile a mistake that big that impacted other people. I had a hard time trusting myself again as a business owner/leader for years. But- I knew two things where true the entire time. The first is that I knew I would pay back every single cent- if it killed me. The fact that I knew that implicitly about myself made it easier to get through the times when it felt frustrating or when I felt like the people I owed money to were beyond angry with me. The second thing is that I knew I would never give up. This would not be the end of me- it was something I had to solve. Failure was not an option. I operate with a mentality of “how”, not “if”. I am determined to live my life facing every challenge and asking myself how to get through it, not letting myself wonder if I will. That helped me overcome.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

hmmm. I have a few new business ideas brewing- but I am not ready to give them away quite yet. 🙂 I would love to see someone start a business that goes into public facilities and locations and tries to make them more efficient. If someone could figure out how to get lines to move faster, basic traffic signal timing to make more sense and how to get people to interact more efficiently when there are large numbers of them together- that would be awesome!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would change the lack of curiosity that is a characteristic of far too many people in our world. The world and everyone and everything in it is so interesting! I see way too many people taking a lot for granted and just taking life in as they are told to. I really believe that if everyone got a bit more curious and started asking more questions, exploring more and understanding that there is not any one way to do anything- we would see a lot more people changing the world. If I could wave a magic wand I would completely change the school system so that it taught kids to challenge things, explore ideas and think critically instead of regurgitating information that they are taught.

Tell us a secret.

I was homeschooled from grades 1-9 because I had such a horrible time in Kindergarten. I couldn’t learn to read and I had some pretty extreme anxiety issues- all that resulted in me being homeschooled for 9 years before I was able to go to school!

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

1- a totally free online workspace for small businesses. I love it because it is a super easy and free solution to a big problem that small businesses face- managing their team efficiently.
2- a totally free tool that helps you send out great looking marketing pieces online without any marketing or design experience needed.
3- a tool that helps business owners manage all their online marketing and is amazingly effective at turning their followers/visitors etc into customers.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud. This is my absolutely most favorite book- it literally changed my life when I read it. The basic premise is that “integrity” comes from the root word “integrated” or “whole”. We mistake having “integrity” as being moral or good- but, in fact, it is more about consciously being a person that is integrated and whole which allows you to see reality and make your decisions accordingly. Read this book!!

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

If you are a business owner- definitely follow #TYsmallbiz. It is a pretty cool campaign in support of you and all about giving you access to free resources and support to grow your business! @katenorthrup – one of my favorite people and a woman dedicated to living a big life with financial freedom and a lot of happiness. @davekerpen- he is a social media machine and all around good man. I like to hear what he has to say.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I laugh out loud every day – all the time! Just tonight we did our #TYsmallbiz live event in Denver and I was laughing with a bunch of business owners as we were talking about the insane things we have done to keep our companies alive and growing.

Who is your hero, and why?

My hero is anyone who follows their passion and pursues what they really want in life- regardless of any social norm or other influence. I have such insane respect for people who identify what they want and then go for it.

What one thing do you think entrepreneurs should do less of?

Going to networking events. Stop spending so much time “networking” and spend more time taking actions that will actually grow your business.

What is your personal mission statement?

I will find the most amazing people in the world and work with them to create projects and businesses that will have a big positive impact in the world- and we will have a LOT of fun in the process!


Twitter: @carissareiniger