Welcome to Saturday Business chat. Today we meet Kathy Ennis, whose business bears her name. Kathy has been in business for a while, but over the years has moved from being a Personal Image Consultant to individual brand management – an example of moving with the direction her business was taking her and embracing change and new opportunities.
Kathy also had an interesting experience, some years into her life as a consultant, when she realised how little she knew about many aspects of actually running a business, something she now uses to good effect when advising business owners herself!
Let’s meet Kathy!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Kathy Ennis! My strapline is Your Brand Is You. I actually started my own business in a very small way 11 years ago. I incorporated in 2006, however, I can honestly say I didn’t start running my business for real until 2009.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I sort of fell into it; I wanted to try something different from the job I was doing at the time. There is more background information here. Eventually it became impossible for me to do anything else because I was hooked on being my own boss!
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
If you take a look at the article in the link above there is an explanation [Kathy was working as an image consultant but found people were asking her more about their wider personal brand, so decided to move into that and mentoring].
Had you run your own business before?
Never. I come from a family of ‘employees’ – the idea of running your own business was as remote as the moon.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I started while I was working full time. Over the years I cut down on my salaried hours and grew the business in the days I didn’t ‘work’. I became full time in my business once I was made redundant (I wasn’t leaving my last employer until they made me redundant, I had been there too long and I wasn’t going for nothing!)
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
How to run a business! It sounds so stupid to me now, but when I started I thought that running a business meant money coming in, money going out and paying an accountant once a year to submit my tax return.
I went on a business / personal development weekend in June 2009. It was business based, experiential learning through playing games. There was one game we played (8 hours long!) where, in teams, we had to set up and run a business. The team / company with the most accumulated wealth at the end of the game was the winner. I was made the CFO and I was abysmal; I had absolutely no idea about what was going on in terms of business set-up, growth, marketing, financial management, etc., etc.
On the Monday after the course I started leaning everything I could about business, how it works, how to market, how to plan, how to manage money, etc., etc. – and now I mentor people who are starting their own businesses.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Grow a shell; Don’t believe everything they tell you; Just because people have a successful business doesn’t mean they know how to run a business; Spend as little as you can and charge as much as you can – and most importantly – believe in yourself and know what you are worth.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Not paid out loads of money to people who promised to do stuff for me and never delivered – and they got away with it because I was too business naïve to know.
What are you glad you did?
Get to know a brilliant group of business people who have always been so willing to give help, support and advice (Oh, and marry my gorgeous husband)
What’s your top business tip?
Plan, set targets, know what you want
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I have been through at least 4 changes since I started, but I have never been as happy or as sure about what I am doing as I am now.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Funny, I am working on this at the moment.
· Higher turnover
· Fewer, but higher priced, 1-2-1 mentoring clients
· Group mentoring – face-to-face and online (webinars, etc.)
· 2 books written
Well that’s a specific plan if ever I saw one – we wish you the best of luck and look forward to finding out how things are going in a year’s time!
What happened next? Read Kathy’s 2013 interview here.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.