How One Female Entrepreneur Answered Destiny's Call
“We are fearless entrepreneurs who know how to be accountable for results,” reads the website for the event marketing firm Ideas with Impact, the brainchild of entrepreneur Karen DeTemple.
“Fearless” is right.
About 15 years ago DeTemple was downsized from a creative agency. She planned to take some time off and regroup. One week later the 9/11 attacks happened. The world was thrown into turmoil; and DeTemple was, too, creatively and professionally. Slowly she began to see clients at her former firm needing help with things she knew she could do, like branding, communication and event marketing. The firms didn’t have the budget to add headcount, so DeTemple offered her services as a freelancer. Soon she was taking on new clients. Then more clients came her way, then more.
“About six months into that, my family asked me if I was starting a company. I thought, ‘Oh my, I guess I am,’” says DeTemple. “I have to be honest; I stumbled into it a bit. It wasn’t really my goal or my vision, but when I saw the need in the marketplace, it started to really make sense for me.” The company has evolved and continues to thrive and produce award-winning work, using a scalable talent methodology that flexed up to 225 team members freelance and full time last year.
She Was Surprised, But Her Family Wasn’t
DeTemple is very candid when admitting she initially fell into her role as an entrepreneur, but her family wasn’t surprised. In fact, they’ve been some of her biggest sources of inspiration and support.
“I was forced into entrepreneurial bootcamp at age 6,” laughs DeTemple, as she relays stories of cleaning the laundry room of an apartment building that her parents’ real estate company managed. She recalls being handed a savings account book that she was taught to fill out and take to the bank. As she grew, DeTemple learned to do everything from payroll to property management. She also witnessed her parents struggle to get their company through the 1980s, when high interest rates made it tough to own a real estate-based firm. DeTemple says, “I was begrudgingly part of the family business, wanting instead to be out with my friends; but what I realized during and after college was that I had been taught some really invaluable skills.”
The family support didn’t end there. When DeTemple was weighing whether she could really make a leap into entrepreneurship, her sister and brother-in-law did something that still evokes emotion and tears: “I received in the mail a $10,000 check. They didn’t tell me they were doing this. They put a note in there that said, 'We want you to know that you have a safety net,' and they told me to go do it.” She kept that check pinned up to a board at her desk for years, thankful to know she had their support. DeTemple eventually mailed the check back, never needing to cash it.
Today DeTemple’s business focuses on brand communication and event marketing from the perspective of the executive who needs results. What sets her business apart, she says, is the way they get the job done. “A lot of our industry just focuses on the five days of the event, but we focus on how that event is going to drive more revenue, engagement and loyalty the other 360 days a year.”
It begins with the relationships they develop with their clients. “At our core, we are a business that is built on the strength of deep caring, which allows us to achieve great outcomes for our clients. I get out of bed before sunrise to get a chance to do this kind of work and make an impact for people. It’s my passion and purpose.”
DeTemple’s start may have been accidental, but her continued success is the product of great intention. “I had a lot of help along the way, from great mentors to great friends who were willing to step in when I needed help,” she says. “I didn’t need to have all the answers. I just needed to be able to find the people who could help me out.”
DeTemple has had several clients in the finance industry. They got her thinking about the income her business generated in a different way. Finances became a gateway to living the life DeTemple wanted to live. With that new thought framework, her intentions toward creating sustainable business success increased. She began working with a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual and began to realize that good planning could allow her not just to survive, but rather to thrive. She says, “When we are in thrive mode, we are more kind, more generous, more aware, etc. My advisors always ask me if I am living the life I want to live. It’s a different way of thinking about things.”
And while DeTemple finds a sense of fulfillment in what she is doing now, she knows that her version of thriving means she’ll step away from it at some point. “I really do love what I do and the people I work with, but the concept that people die just after retirement because they have no purpose is a mystery to me. If I weren’t working, I could name 50 things I’d do starting tomorrow that are equally as exciting and intriguing to me. I’d better live a long life because I have a lot to do in retirement, and perhaps this is the reason I’m planning now for retirement.”
Finding Your Own Way to Thrive
DeTemple says if someone is reading this and looking to create a version of what she is doing, she suggests getting clear on who you are and what you want. “It’s a boundary-less dream! Where do you want to be in your life? You’re not going to get there if you don’t know where you want to be,” she says. She encourages people to find mentors who can help them get where they want to be or act as a resource for them.
DeTemple knows her path may not have been the typical one to success, but she says she hopes it can act as an inspiration and encouragement for others to find their own way forward. “If people truly have a vision that they feel they can contribute something that the world needs, give it a try. Especially as women, we like to have it all spelled out before we take a leap, but you have to be courageous enough to take the first step. Go for it. Trust that the world is going to help you out.”