Optima Office is a 100% woman-owned business founded by Jennifer Barnes in 2018. Prior to founding Optima, Jennifer was the founder and CEO of Pro Back Office from 2011 through 2018.
Establishing a business is no easy feat. It requires much more than just a good business model, capital, business plan, etc. At its core, it requires a talented and indomitable leadership that fuels the company and runs its products/services in the market effectively and progressively.
A lot of things come to mind when the word entrepreneur pops up. But despite the definitions, aspiration, and motivation attached to it, it becomes a different word when one steps out in the market.
In this edition of The Enterprise World, we feature and commend some of the most enterprising women of the year.
In conversation with Jennifer Barnes, Founder, and CEO of Optima Office. Let’s hear more about the company, her professional journey, and much more!
1. Tell us about Optima Office, and what inspired you to start your company?
I started Optima office in October of 2018 after my ex-partners did a hostile takeover of my first company. I made the mistake of being in a situation with my first company where I only owned 45% of the organization. I brought in over 90% of all the revenue and most of the employees.
We were the 5th fastest growing company in San Diego our 4th year in business and things seemed to be going extremely well, until- well- they weren’t. In year 6, after a couple of years of being in a bad relationship with my partners, they found a way to do a hostile takeover of the company. I was walked out with security and had everything taken from me.
Within three days, however, I started company #2 and within three weeks, I moved across the street from them. 27 of the employees came with me and I ended up prevailing pretty quickly in court by being allowed to compete against the other company I owned. Fast forward 3 and a half years later, Optima office is twice the size. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me!
2. What are the products or services the company focuses on?
Optima office provides an entire accounting and HR team to businesses in all industries and of all sizes. We can also fill the gaps at any level, from the bookkeeping role to the CFO or HR Director. Our main focus is on providing our clients with strategic advice, financial statements they can rely on and human resource services that keep them out of trouble and their employees happy.
3. How are your services different from those in the market?
Optima Office personalize our services to every client. We always have availability at every level and never squeeze square pegs into round holes. We are also one of the only female-run accounting firms around.
4. Please tell us about your team?
Optima Office have 85 employees and are 65% women currently. Half of our team are Controller level and above and we have some of the most talented professionals in the market. We promote work-life balance and take exceptional care of our team. Retention is our biggest focus and we do everything we can to live by the theme that happy staff equals happy clients.
5. Tell us about your professional experience?
I started my career in the accounting department at Petco after I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting, and Marketing. I moved my way up the ladder quickly and a few years after graduating ended up in a consulting role as a Controller for numerous companies and non-profits throughout San Diego.
Learning quickly that I needed to further my education I earned an MBA from San Diego State University in 2008 (EMBA 17) and completed the Becker CPA courses in 2011. After consulting for two of our current competitors for almost 5 years, I started my first company and the rest is history.
6. Please share some of the key achievements of your business journey?
I was placed in the top 40 under 40 business leaders in San Diego County and earned the spot in the SDBJ’s Women who Mean Business for 5 years in a row. I was featured in the woman of the year for San Diego Magazine for the past two years in a row, a finalist for CEO of the year in 2017 as well as being named the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the year for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
I was also awarded the most influential leader in 2016 by the Connected Women of Influence and in the same year was a semi-finalist in EY’s Entrepreneur of the year. At Optima Office, I have been bestowed with another 22 awards. The latest ones are:
- CEO of the year Winner in Medium Business – Issued by SDBJ
- Enterprising Women of the year- over $5 million – Issued by Enterprising
- San Diego 500 Top Influential People in San Diego -Issued by SDBJ
- Top 20 Workplaces 2021- Issued by SD Union-Tribune
- Finalist for Women of the Year – Issued by San Diego Magazine
- Corporate Citizen Award – Issued by SDBJ
- Industry Leader- Celebrating Women – Issued by San Diego Magazine
- Inspirational Women Finalist- Issued by LA Times
- Resilience AwardResilience Award – Issued by Connected Women of Influence
In their 4th year of business, Optima Office is going to do over $9 million in revenue, up from 6.3 million in year 3.
7. Any client experience you would like to highlight?
Optima Office have a bunch of amazing testimonials on our website. We currently serve well over 200 companies and are growing.
8. What is your favorite quote?
Happy Staff=Happy Clients.