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OutSmart Office – Dawn Ackerman shares her secrets to success

An interview with GGBA Member and Past President Dawn Ackerman, CEO of OutSmart Office.

Describe your business and it’s mission and values.
OutSmart Office is a full-service office design company. We work closely with our clients to create an office environment that they love!

Our services include:

  • Office Design & Space Planning
  • Tenant Improvement (construction, paint, flooring) & Move Management
  • Procurement and Installation of furniture, fixtures, equipment, supplies, art & signage

Why did you decide to create your business?
We have been in the office products business for over 20 years and enjoy getting testimonials like this from our clients:

“My office is now my favorite place to be, thanks to OutSmart Office Solutions. I’ve been proud of my business for years, but I wasn’t thrilled with our space as I did not feel that the physical presence of the office reflected the stellar work we were doing for our clients. I engaged Dawn Ackerman to come evaluate what could be done and I love the result.  She took the time to analyze how we use the offices so that she could make practical recommendations that really improved our work flows. She spent time with me to get a sense of my style, then used what she had learned to propose a design that blew us away.

Dawn was flexible with me on my price points and delivered on time. Our office is a beacon of style and sophistication that my staff and my clients all rave about. Thank you Dawn and OutSmart for taking my office to the next level!”

Do you have any specific policies in place that benefit the LGBT Community?
OutSmart Office is a 100% owned and operated LGBT company. We have been certified as a National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) since our inception. We work with LGBT owned companies and non-profits nationwide and help them to create phenomenal workspaces.

Why did you decide to join the GGBA?
I moved to San Francisco in 2010 and knew that the best place to start to build my business here was with the GGBA. OutSmart Office is also a member of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA).

How has the GGBA helped your business so far?
90% of our business comes from the relationships we have built through the GGBA, GSBA and NGLCC.

What has been your biggest reward during your journey as an entrepreneur? 
As entrepreneurs and leaders in the LGBTQ business community, the members of the OutSmart Office Team, get great satisfaction out of helping businesses be successful.
In our roles as designers and consultants, we are able to help our clients grow their businesses by creating a productive environment that they love to work in and that makes a statement about who they are to their clients.

As leaders in the community, we get to share our experience and knowledge of what it means to be a successful LGBT owned business with others and help them to leverage the opportunities that our business organizations have created for them.

Describe your biggest disappointment.
It is always disappointing to spend days or even weeks on a bid or RFP and then to lose, but you can’t stop trying.

What is the most important lesson you learnt being an entrepreneur?
You should always be looking for new ways to differentiate yourself and to add value to what can offer to your clients. You should never stop trying to be better at what you do.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
First, make sure you know how to read a Profit & Loss Statement and understand the basics of cashflow. You would be surprised at the business owners I have met that do not. Then you need to have a clear idea of what your business is all about and why you are doing it. You also have to be prepared to fail before you succeed.