Talking business with Kelly Sly

Friday, July 20, 2007 | 3:19 p.m. CDT; updated 5:28 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Q. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your business life?

A. How hard it is to find employees. That was probably the only thing that I didn’t realize was such a big deal.


About the business Diggit Graphics Graphic design and printing Open nine years Four employees 8 Hitt St. About the owner Kelly Sly, 31 Bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design, MU

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Q. How do you motivate/pump up the people you work with?

A. I usually get in there with them and show them how I want it to be done. Show them how they should be accomplishing the job. I’m hands-on, I guess. I’m not a good motivator when it comes to speech. I’m more of “I’ll get in there and get my hands dirty with you” and that will motivate them to work harder, typically.

Q. If you didn’t own your business, what would you really love to be doing?

A. Probably something in the movie business, like television graphics or set design — something in the movie business.

Q. Where do you see your business in five years?

A. Probably having two locations, whether it be another shop at my house or another downtown location or somewhere else in town.

Q. Would you rather be the Donald Trump or Google guys in your field? Why?

A. Donald Trump. That’s probably my next step — real estate. This company is just a stepping stone to get to real estate, so that might be in the next five years. My business will still be expanding, but I’ll probably be more into real estate than I am involved with the business.

Q. What did you learn from the best boss you ever had? Or the worst?

A. Probably work ethic. I already had a good work ethic, but to know what it takes to run a business and make it successful — it’s not 9-to-5, basically.

Q. What Columbia business do you most admire?

A. Probably Willie’s, because of its success and the loyalty of its employees.

Q. Describe the ideal employee in five words or less.

A. Honest and hardworking.

Q. What do you try to read in a day?

A. Mainly computer software stuff, processes on how to do things. For example, I was reading (recently) how to do simulated process separations, which has a lot to do with software. Mainly it’s computer-oriented or technical stuff.

Q. What parts of your ordinary life have you had to give up for this job?

A. All parts. All of the above. I don’t have an ordinary life. I can’t leave at 5 or6. Everybody else leaves at 5 or6, and I have to stay here and finish what they don’t accomplish. I can’t really plan vacations. I do take vacations when we’re super slow. We’ll just shut the shop down, and I’ll go. So I either have to take vacations then or not at all. I can’t plan a vacation next month; there is no way.

Q. How many hours do you work during an average week?

A. Sixty to 70 typically during our busy times, and then I work at home sometimes, too.

Q. What’s the motto you live by as a business owner?

A. Dig it.

Q. How did you get started in the business?

A. Just jumped right in.

Q. Who’s your greatest inspiration?

A. My mother, probably because of her work ethic and dedication to family.

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. Nothing.

Q. What makes you stop what you’re doing and say, “What am I doing here?”

A. Nothing. I’m pretty laid-back, so nothing really bothers me.

Q. How is running a business different from what you thought it would be?

A. It’s not, only because I’d seen it. It wasn’t new to me; I’d been working in the same type of business, and I knew what it took.

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