Carissa Reineger helps small businesses grow. “We’re kinda like Weight Watchers. That’s the best analogy. We help small business owners set their goals and then help them reach them,” she says.
Her company, Silver Lining Limited was established six years ago out of a belief Reineger had that small businesses didn’t need to sacrifice making money for doing what they loved.
Head hunted shortly after completing her Psychology degree at the University of Alberta, she was given a position as the director of business development at an advertising agency. In this executive role, she found herself among colleagues who were much older and difficult to identify with. “Most of the people my age were interns so I wasn’t hanging out with them,” says Reineger. “The people I was working with were 50-year-old men. So there was this disconnect and I wasn’t really making friends at work.”
As a young person in need of a social outlet, Reineger started attending networking events. “Where do you show up by yourself and not look like a total loser?” laughs Reineger. “Networking events were kind of what I thought.” When she started going to these small business events she met entrepreneurs who were passionate about what they did, worked hard, but typically were not making any money. “They were struggling. I wanted to help them, so I quit my job and started Silver Lining.”
Reineger saw the opportunity and took it despite the fact that she knew very little about how she was going to help these business owners. “That’s part of entrepreneurship, you have no idea what you’re doing most of the time,” comments Reineger. What she did have was a belief that there was something she could learn from everyone.
“I started talking to small businesses. The best way to learn is to talk to other people,” recalls Reineger. “What I was trying to understand from them is what their struggles were. What was happening was that small businesses, in their effort to solve their time and money problems, were typically doing things that made their problem worse. So we knew that we had to build something that brought strategy and execution together in a way that was really simple and it didn’t cost very much time or money.”
It was through asking these small business owners that what their problems were that she developed the Silver Lining Action Plan, a software program that helps entrepreneurs keep track of their goals and progress.
Despite her business growing fast, as a young entrepreneur herself, she had her own start-up struggles. There were cash flow problems and times where Reineger asked to borrow large sums of money just so she could make payroll. She tried to do it on her own but could not keep up.
“I thought that I shouldn’t ask for help because it would make me look weak, and I made all sorts of classic mistakes around that,” Reineger says. “There’s been lots of people that have helped me, but typically one of my biggest mistakes was that I only reached out during crisis times. I didn’t get proactive help — I got reactive help.”
It was ultimately an assessment of her own personal life that she attributes to saving her business. Reineger says she had to take a hard look at the way she was living. She carefully examined five areas of her life: career, emotional/mental health, physical health, spiritual health ,and relationships. After a proper realignment of her life Reineger was able to run her business effectively.
She says her spiritual role has a big role to play in her life and it is also an aspect of her life that she’s never tried to hide. Reineger says the relationships in her life are very important to her — both relationships with friends as well as one with God.
Reineger has authored four books, two of which are about business and the other two are about relationships and dating. Despite not wanting to get too personal, Reineger admits that being successful does have an impact on a person’s ability to have a relationship. “Not necessarily for better or worse,” she says, “but it creates a different reality for sure.”
Reineger now owns 80 per cent of Silver Lining Ltd, having sold 20 per cent of her company last December. She continues to believe in her company’s mandate to help empower small business owners in doing what they love. “Eighty per cent of our clients hit their goals,” she says. Undoubtedly the key to Reineger’s own success is that she has found a way to do what she herself loves.
“The coolest thing about Silver Lining is the people we work with. Every single day all day long we’re working with people who are passionate and who have taken a big risk to follow what they love,” says Reineger.