From the June 2001 issue of Startups

When Krista Bard started Bard Associates in 1985, she was looking for a challenge. Dissatisfied with her situation at the time, she started the Philadelphia-based integrated marketing and consulting firm with the assurance that she had the know-how to do it properly. "There was this driving need to keep moving, and I was looking for greater satisfaction," says the homebased entrepreneur. "I wanted to find something that was more fun, satisfying and challenging."

Unlike many first-time entrepreneurs, Bard was confident in her ability to run her own business successfully. "I got to see all the different ways people did it [at my other jobs], whether by their bootstraps or with a lot of funding," explains Bard, who previously worked for the Department of Interior as well as an entrepreneurial company. "Since I was exposed to entrepreneurs before, I knew that it was really just a matter of saying, 'Yes, I will; yes, I can.' "

That statement is true whether you're just starting out or you're preparing to expand your homebased business-because once you stop aspiring to new levels, your business will likely stagnate as well. With the launch of two additional companies last year (Nanodate, a speed dating service, and Competitive Intelligence Report, a trend analysis and prediction company), Bard has learned that lesson well. "I have this theory that you should always be doing your best and working at your highest potential," she says. "Everybody's great at something, so you need to focus on what that is for you."

And though running three different companies requires extra demands on Bard's time, she sees it all as a means to an end. "There are tradeoffs," she says. "If you want one thing, you have to accommodate and compromise others in order to get it."