Ask Paula Inniss to name her greatest accomplishment and she doesnt even mention building Ohio Full Court Press into a $3.6 million commercial printing business in four years.
Instead, she first points out that all three of my children are in college.
Second, Inniss cites her Christian faith. I feel the spiritual side of me really gives me the strength to do what I do, she says.
The answers really arent surprising once you consider the breadth of Inniss personality.
Indeed, her business prowess has earned her numerous accolades, including the Blue Chip Foundation Business Award, the Excellence in Enterprise Rising Star Award and the Entrepreneurial Woman Small Business Startup Business Owner of the Year.
Inniss also focuses on the success of others, especially women and children. Her business, in fact, is a means toward that end.
I always thought Id open a home or shelter for pregnant teens or runaways, or a house for abused women, which is still my dream, she says. Im going to do that before I leave this life.
An active member of her church, Rhema Christian Center in Columbus, Inniss already ministers to women and teens. Shes also on the advisory board of Destiny Training Camp, which aims to assist youth through classes, athletics and a crisis center.
Doris Calloway Moore of Franklin County Children Services says Inniss enthusiasm, commitment, compassion and sincerity show in her work as a member of the Black Family Connections Advisory Board, which helps older foster children waiting to be adopted. Inniss organized a six-week course, Life Skills for the 90s, to teach those children independent living skills such as relationship development, self esteem and how to interview for a job.
Kids are really good at reading people, Moore says. They know that shes sincere and she really cares about them, and they respond to her real well because of that.
Inniss helps fellow business owners through Women in New Growth Stages, the Columbus Regional Minority Supplier Development Council and the newly formed Consortium 2000, an organization that helps minority business owners share resources and form strategic alliances to market their products and services.
While Inniss has come a long way toward helping her business peers, her own entrepreneurial spirit took wing before she even stepped foot in a kindergarten class.
I must have been 4 years old when workers were outside pouring a new sidewalk, Inniss recalls. I used to sit at the window and watch them. I asked my mom, Is it OK if we make some Spam sandwiches and Kool-Aid and sell it to them?
Anything you do as a kid to make money, I did it, she adds.
Inniss raised a family of her own and embarked upon a 14-year career at Xerox Corp., where she eventually supervised a sales team that generated $5 million in revenue.
That was until a customer, Craig Taylor of Marketing Services by Vectra Inc. in Columbus, encouraged her to start her own business.
She understood the technology and understood the marketplace, and I just thought she had all the ingredients to be successful, says Taylor, who owns a portion of Ohio Full Court Press. Today, the companys client list includes Bank One, The Longaberger Co., Coca-Cola Co. and state and city accounts. Inniss also plans to open a print shop in Nelsonville to attain her goal of providing employment for the people of Appalachia.
Inniss says using mentors such as Taylor and Stampp Corbin, president and CEO of Retro Box Inc. and Resource One Computer Systems, helped her overcome the challenges of starting and building her business.
To Taylor, however, Inniss success lies primarily within her solid beliefs.
Her commitment to doing the right thing all the time, he says, is what separates her from everybody else.