How Nakia Stith Turned Her Family’s Biz, Top of the Clock, Into a Major Security Company

Nakia StithWhen Nakia Stith took over her father’s business, Top of the Clock, as ?president and CEO, it wasn’t easy. It took hard work and a new vision ?to get the company out of the red and build it into a thriving firm ?offering top-notch security and personal safety management to ?corporations, banks and government housing.??

Her father, the late Gregory Stith, founded Top of the Clock in 1991.? And when her dad became ill from kidney disease, Stith, just in her? 20s, inherited the responsibilities of the company, which at the ?time, had a whopping six-figure debt. By 2002, she had assumed the ?role of president & CEO, and turned the company around. It posted a ?profit within three years.??

Here, Stith tells how she did it.?? What made you want to rebuild Top of the Clock?instead of ?closing or selling???

Nakia Stith: I didn?t think I was rebuilding the business; I was just?working and helping my dad.? At the time, selling and closing were not? options that I considered.? I was just doing what I could, the best? way I knew how.? So much was going on and all I could do was follow my spirit and trust my gut.?? What is one of the biggest mistakes people make with family businesses???

NS: One of the biggest mistakes family businesses can make is planning? for and making decisions about the business based on emotions, ?obligation, and/or loyalty.? This is a lesson that I am constantly ?learning.?? I once interviewed Russell Simmons and he said he didn’t? believe in passing family businesses down because the second? generation will never have the same vision as the founder. He said it? was better to sell a successful business and leave money to heirs to ?create their own legacies. Thoughts?

NS: There are many family businesses that have been successful through? generations, so I think it is an individual decision.? However, I do ?understand his point.? My vision is not that of my father’s, however, I ?have worked to find a place for my vision in a way that is allowing me? to be a creator of my own legacy.?? When many family businesses are passed down, they sometimes run into trouble. How have you avoided this and how can others???

NS: I have learned the importance of systemizing the business.? We worked with a facilitator quarterly for two years to learn how to run? the business in an organized way.? By creating processes and systems, ?we are able to better manage some of the inevitable unpredictability ?that is bound to come with business. I don?t think you can avoid the ?trouble that comes with business, but you can definitely learn how to ?manage it.?? How does one chart a blueprint to a great family legacy???

NS: A legacy is something that has been transmitted from an ancestor?or a predecessor from the past.? I believe we are all recipients of a? legacy and it is our responsibility to work in service of it.? With? this in mind, we must have a clear vision of who we are, what we want,? and where we see ourselves going.? Then and only then can we create a? blueprint that encourages greatness.?? What are your business goals for 2015???

NS: In 2015 my goals are centered around thought leadership – I plan to ?finish a book that I have been working on; improve sales; further? define our target markets;?and add value through the creation of ?effective partnerships.

(CLICK HERE for a related article about family-owned businesses.)