For 23 years, Kelli Grubbs has quietly provided the backbone of Victory Enterprises, helping it begin as a basement venture with her husband Steve and growing into the nationally-reaching business it is today. Her steady leadership, dedication, and fastidious attention to detail have been our greatest asset.
In 1997, Steve Grubbs began to turn his experience working in the Iowa legislature into a company that would assist political candidates with website design. It eventually became a full-service consulting firm. Kelli had begun her legal career in 1990, and the couple was also in the midst of expanding their family with 4 children.
“We started the company in our basement while I was still active in my legal practice, so it didn’t feel terribly risky from a financial perspective at the beginning,” says Kelli. “I think points where we really started to grow and had to take on payroll and a physical office, involved more risk but we believed sensible risk. Truly, I prayed a lot! The biggest sacrifice for any small business owner, is simply that it’s hard to ever really get away from your work. But that’s just a life balance everyone has to figure out for themselves.”
As Victory’s Chief Financial Officer, Kelli has been an essential part of the company from the beginning. “I was in private law practice for 9 years before moving completely to our Victory companies. I did a lot of contract work and corporate work during those years. It was invaluable for our business activities. The financial side was definitely more on-the-job training and learning from other financial professionals as I went. I did my fair share of learning at the school of hard knocks in the early years.”
As a married couple at the head of a business, the Grubbses have enjoyed the extra element of being business partners in their relationship. “A “no shop talk” rule would make for a very quiet house!” says Kelli. “I think if you value each other’s strengths and roles in business, there are endless opportunities to tackle challenges together and be closer.”
When it comes to maintaining a balance between work and family life, they are grateful for the many opportunities to spend time with their children. That alone helps force a work- life balance that might otherwise be harder to achieve.
Although Victory depends on her for its financial health, Kelli has also given her expertise and talent to numerous community and business boards, as well as helping Steve with other entrepreneurial pursuits. To keep these multiple responsibilities organized, Kelli says she relies on Google Calendars… as well as learning to say “no.”
“I try not to accept any offers that I’m not passionate about,” Kelli says. “I know my highest priorities for me are God and my family. I make room for all other duties and opportunities after those are taken care of.”
“I tend to organize in monthly, weekly, and then daily flows so I know exactly what is on my plate today, but also have an eye on what is coming up,” says Kelli. “Probably the most challenging part of my career has been learning to embrace the unexpected and understand that it’s not possible (or helpful) to script the outcome of every situation. For instance, it took me a few years to realize that losing an employee is always an opportunity to reshape a position or system and get better as a company.
Looking back at her career, Kelli says she would only change a few things; “My college self should have taken more business classes!” She says. “I have always lived by and tried to teach my kids not to make decisions that limit their options. You never know what your life journey will be and it’s always best to be open to possibilities, even if some opportunities intimidate you.”
Kelli is thankful for her journey thus far and optimistic about what’s next. “There have been lean times and times of plenty. But there was never a time when I felt like I had to sacrifice my personal priorities for business. I’ve juggled more coaching duties and community volunteerism that I can easily catalog and all of these things combined with my family and career have made for a very rich and rewarding path. There’s really no end to the continuing opportunities both professionally and personally and that’s a pretty great place to be.”