Secrets of Success: Rick Olson
gleaning some wisdom from a seasoned entrepreneur and business mind
To some, the principles that guide KRM Information Services will come off as touchy-feely New Age garbage – they’ll scoff, and turn away. But after 38 years as a successful entrepreneur in the Chippewa Valley, Rick Olson considers them revelations. And maybe you should, too.
“I can’t overstate it enough,” he said. “It has changed lives and made a huge difference. I’d never run a business without them. The power is amazing.”
Along with his 50-50 partner Mark Helland, Rick has been in business since 1977. That’s not to say he did it alone – as he would say, “no one does this stuff alone” – but ever since he started a painting business as a teenager he’s had an interest in entrepreneurship. “I really feel I was bound to do this,” he said. “It’s where I get energized, and it just feels like it’s in my DNA.”
After Rick graduated from law school, he practiced for a few months and, at 25, became Eau Claire Police Department’s Legal Advisor (one of only three in the state), instructed at UWEC a little, and helped set up a paralegal program at CVTC. This brief stint into law made him recognize a need, and that began his foray into the business world.
“Part of being an entrepreneur is seeing the possibilities,” he said. “You get a lot of naysayers, but you just need to have faith and sometimes it works. Entrepreneurs hate risks, but they just come with the territory.”
He and Mark co-founded Legal Systems Inc., a company that published law books authored by the duo. Then, naturally, they started putting on seminars about the topics in the books as a way to help sell them. Eventually, the publishing company got bought out, but the seminars stuck.
That led them to start Professional Education Systems Inc to provide face-to-face seminars to professionals in law, accounting, real estate, and health care. In the years that followed, PESI would spread to become Documation (a printer), Foxmoor Continuing Education (all seminars except health care), PESI Healthcare (now CMI), and KRM Information Services (webinars). (He and Mark also have partial ownership of the bankruptcy law wiki HOFnet and the 200 Spring Street building.)