Established: March 1988
When Kathy came to WEV in 2008, she already had decades of experience as a successful fundraiser for other organizations. Through the SET course, she learned how to be just as successful as a business owner. She also developed a community of fellow business owners through a Master Mind group that continues to meet weekly and provide support and accountability. In 2012, she enrolled in Thrive in Five® and had her best year ever, which she attributes directly to the support she received from WEV.
What has been your biggest business success?
I’m well known now in the central coast area as a fundraising consultant. If you’re a nonprofit staff member, chances are that you’ve taken a class with me or have seen my fundraising classes publicized. That feels really good and it’s happened in just eight years. I also take great pride in the organizations I’ve helped. I can point to buildings that I helped build that are filled with nonprofit staff, helping people live better lives, and organizations that are stronger today because I helped them fundraise and build their boards. Perhaps my biggest success is that after 25 years I’m still self-employed and I have as much business as I want.
Who is your ideal customer?
A non-profit organization that would like to raise more money in less time at lower cost and engage more people in their work. When I can take an organization that holds an event that raises $4,000 net from 400 people, and teach them how to raise $130,000 in cash and pledges from 200 people, that feels really great.
What has been the biggest surprise about owning a business?
It can be lonely. For me, there’s no water cooler: no one to talk to about what you did last weekend or what you’re going to do next weekend like in a regular office. When you’re the boss, there’s no one to complain to about how tough the boss is being on you! My solution to that loneliness has been the Master Mind groups that WEV helped form. My Master Mind group from my SET class has been meeting once a week since spring 2008. I understand everything about each woman’s business and they understand mine. They help me celebrate triumphs and tackle problems. For awhile, we tried having members who didn’t go through WEV but it was too difficult, as they didn’t understand the basics of their businesses, like how to charge or how to find new clients.
How do you juggle all the pieces of your life to make it all come together?
I try very hard to turn off the computer at 5:00 p.m., and to reserve my weekends for my family. I also try not to check voicemail on weekends.
What advice do you offer other women who might want to start their own company?
Business does not come to you: you have to find it. Don’t think that once you print up business cards that people will automatically hire you. You have to focus your time on finding new clients. As quickly as you can, bring in people who can do the tasks that might take you away from finding more clients. For example, let’s say that your business is dog walking. As soon as possible, find people to walk the dogs so you can find more customers. Spend time working ON your business, not IN your business. If you can’t afford to hire people to do the work, you’re not charging enough.
What WEV program(s) have you participated in?
I completed Self-Employment Training, formed a lasting Master Mind group, and I am now in Thrive in Five®.
How did WEV help you achieve your goal or dream?
I have a much clearer idea of how I need to spend my time and I’m more focused. I’m also a tougher negotiator now because of WEV. I am better at determining what kind of clients I want to work with. My coach through the Thrive-in-Five program, Harriet Cohen, helps keep me focused on my larger, longer-term goals, and she helps me find people who can help me in my business.
Is there something you learned from WEV that you use every day?
Focus on bringing in revenue, rather than all the other tasks that demand your attention. Do the things that are unique to you, and hire people to do the other tasks. For example, if you spend five days doing your taxes, that’s five days that you are not bringing in new clients. I have a team of other people that get paid to do the things that they’re best at, so that I don’t have to do those things. If you can save just 10 minutes a day, five days a week, that’s an additional 40-hour-week each year!
What does success mean to you?
It means fulfillment in my work so that I can help nonprofits grow and be successful. Because of me, people doing selfless and meaningful work are employed by nonprofits, and they help to make the world a better and richer place.
What is the biggest reward you get from your business? What makes it all worthwhile?
I love it when my non-profit clients graduate, and when they understand how to bring in more donors and more money so that they can do their work without me. I can point to organizations that are helping thousands of people because I set up their fundraising and helped them succeed. That’s a great feeling.
How do you picture you and your business in: one year? Five years? Ten years?
For myself, I want to be an involved aunt and a caring spouse. My family is very important to me, and it has been great to have my own business so I can do things like pick up my nieces from school and attend their school events. I also like having time with my husband on nights and weekends. For my business, I see it as something that provides fulfilling work while also allowing me the time and money to have a home and help care for my family.
How is your business affected by the economy? What are you doing to deal with this challenge?
My business had been doing well during the down economy because a lot of nonprofits realized that what they had been doing wasn’t going to continue working and they needed my help to improve. However, in 2011, I had my first down year since taking the WEV Self-Employment Training. So I went back to WEV in January of 2012 and started in the Thrive-in-Five program. It’s been GREAT! I had my best year ever in 2012, and I attribute it to WEV and Thrive in Five®. For each dollar I spent on the Thrive in Five® program in one year, I can directly attribute $26 in revenue! How’s that for Return on Investment?
Photography courtesy of MK Photography