by Tim Jahn on November 19, 2010
Katy’s new business is growing so fast, she’s signing a new client every two weeks. I interviewed Katy to discover why she started her own business, how she went about doing it, and how she grew to the point of signing a new client every two weeks.
So my name is Katy Lynch, I’m from Edinburg, Scotland and I recently in mid-August started Social Katy, which is a full service social media-consulting agency for high-energy start-ups and small to medium businesses.
And how did you start Social Katy?
You know what, so I’ve been working for Where I’ve Been as the social media manager and community manager there for two years. And I just decided that I have a real passion for social media. I get it, I know how to monitor and measure it and you know the tech scene here in Chicago is booming at the moment; there’s tons of entrepreneur’s and start ups kind of popping up everywhere. And I thought you know I really want to be able to not only help Where I’ve Been but also help other start-ups and other businesses in the area.
How did you actually go about starting the company though in terms of you decided you want to help other companies and then you decided to do it? How did you go about doing it?
Yeah, so I attend a lot of events here in Chicago like tech events and social media events. So I do get around a lot and I do network a lot. And it just so happened a lot of people that I was talking to or even friends of friends needed help with social media and didn’t really know how to go about it and how to start.
And obviously with my expertise with Where I’ve Been I kind of shed a light on that subject and kind of gave a few tips here and there and advice every time I was going to events. And I just thought you know, again I just have such a passion in it, I really enjoy it, I really like helping people and sharing my advice, and tips, and what to do, and what not to do. And I just thought why not? Why not just start my own thing and get it going and just see what happens.
How important was the idea of networking beforehand to the success of what you’ve created?
It was really, really important and it’s really helped a lot. You know just to get myself out there, get my name out there, speaking on panels. I spoke for the social media club about a year ago.
And again just networking, getting to know people, getting to know what people do here in Chicago so I can immerse myself and know not only the travel industry but every single other industry as well. You know fashion, technology, everything.
So Social Katy now is your full time thing. You are living off this. This is growing enormously, do I understand that?
Yep, yep, pretty rapidly, yeah it is. We have — well currently we have six clients and I have five employees now with Where I’ve Been excuse me, with Social Katy and there are three of them, actually four of them are part time and I’m full time. So I basically trained those employees and they kind of shadow me with my clients and help me with basically social media strategy.
So that’s like the equivalent of three full time employee’s total. How did you get to the point where you need four part time employees helping you within two months of launching?
You know what social media is unbelievably complex and it’s with what I do it’s, you constantly have to be monitoring what’s going on in engagement with my clients. And so by the time I got to three or four clients it was getting overwhelming for me to just do it on my own because it’s a lot of information to process. Social media is very complex, it’s very fast paced and so I knew immediately that I needed help for that reason alone.
Can you give us a sense of — I know you said you’re growing a lot but in a sense of like are you growing like 200% a month or 150% a month or –
Yeah, so we’re growing about I’d say one client every two weeks or so. So it’s yeah, pretty cool and then you know obviously there’s people who are interested and that I’ve had conversations with in the meantime. But yeah, I’d say we’re growing yeah, a client every two weeks, which is really, really cool. I’m very impressed and I’m really excited to see what happens in a month, or two months, or a year from now.
How do you handle that kind of growth? I mean you as an entrepreneur how do you handle that?
With excitement actually and with a lot of enthusiasm. It’s — you know growing is not a bad thing. I’m very excited to know that there’s a lot of potential for Social Katy to just boom as well as I’m excited that people are just so interested in social media. You know two years ago everybody was saying, “Ah, Twitter’s such a fad, ah, Facebook is never going to grow exponentially”, and that’s wrong. You know Twitter, Facebook; all these guys are here to stay for a very long time.
And the fact that companies are just starting to realize that they really need this. You know there’s customer’s listening and they’re waiting for advice, and they’re waiting for companies to talk with them. It’s huge; so as far as the rate that Social Katy’s going I’m really excited about it. And as far as the way that I’m handling it, you know again we have five people right now. I only started in mid-August so it’s just going to keep growing and I’ll just keep hiring.
How hard was that when you realized you need to hire people to delegate tasks? How hard was it to kind of give up some of those tasks?
Yeah, it was definitely hard for me because obviously I mean, to be honest I could do social media 24 hours a day. I just — I’m obsessed with it. I’m obsessed with researching articles on Tech Crunch and Mashable. Yeah I love being very hands on with the client. So yeah, it was definitely a little bit hard to kind of separate myself. I wouldn’t say that — you know I’m still immersed in the client; it’s just that I have aids helping me. So yeah, to answer your question it was very hard to pull away a little bit. But at the same time it’s very rewarding being able to train other people to do what I do.
I imagine it would be tough when you’re used to doing everything yourself and then you realize you just can’t anymore.
What’s the biggest challenge been in getting to where you are now?
The biggest challenge, you know it’s hard to say. Again, Social Katy is still so new. I guess there’s little challenges that creep up every day. Again being able to kind of balance the client and going out and getting new clients as well as still immersing myself in the networking side of it as well. You know speaking at events or even just showing up. It’s definitely — in the beginning it was a struggle to kind of balance everything. But I think I’ve got it down to an art form now.
What would you say is the biggest factor in the success of where you are now? Like what was the one thing that absolutely let you here?
To be honest, you know with my reputation with Where I’ve Been I think a lot of the reason why I was so successful there is because you know I was very authentic and I was myself and I used my own voice. And think that with my other clients that resonates really well and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so successful is because I’m genuine.
I’m using my voice; I’m being very personable with all of my clients and with their communities. And that’s what works at the end of the day is to be transparent, to be unique and to be authentic.
You mentioned you do a lot of networking and you’ve gotten clients from the networking. How does that work? I mean are you pitching people on your services or are they coming up to you and basically saying, “Hey, I heard you do this, can you help me out”?
Right, right, it’s a bit of both. I mean some of the more recent events I’ve attended lately have been TEDx Midwest and the midVenturesLAUNCH and SocialDevCamp, all of them occurred this fall. And it’s a bit of both. It’s me going to events and approaching people you know just kind of going around the room and just being chatty as I am you know because I’m quite bubbly as it is so it’s very easy for me to just strike up conversation.
And so yeah, it’s a bit of me going up and telling people about what I do, finding out about what they do. See if there’s any synergies there as well as follow up. You know when I go to events some people say, “Oh, hey, Social Katy’s here, I follow you on Twitter or I see what you’re doing on Facebook, or hey you commented on my blog last month I just wanted to reach out to you.”
So it’s definitely it’s a bit of both. It’s me going and proactively reaching out to people and then it’s people coming to me based on what I’ve done on Twitter and what I’ve done in the past with Where I’ve Been. As well as me commenting on their blogs and such.
I’m curious, at what point did you know that you needed to start your own consultancy? Because I know you were working with the Where I’ve Been for a very long time and you really propelled them in terms of influence and audience. And then did you pick up a few clients here and there and decided? I mean at what point did you decide this has to happen?
Yeah, you know so with Where I’ve Been — so I joined Where I’ve Been in 2008, the early summer of 2008. And I’ll be honest a lot of my early work with Where I’ve Been was very much trial and error. It was posting articles out there related to the travel industry. It was asking questions of the community. And you know, seeing how many click through’s we got, seeing how many followers we got per week. And everything I did, even though it was trial and error I was monitoring everything.
And so it got to the point where a year into working for Where I’ve Been I had got it down to an art form.
I knew what worked, I knew what didn’t work. I knew what got our followers up. I knew what made followers kind of drop off. And I think that being able to nail that and being able to really you know, get it like get social media, just something kind of sparked inside me. I know this sounds really silly but just something kind of sparked inside me and I just thought to myself, “Wow, if I can make this much of a dent with Where I’ve Been, think about what I can do for other companies.”
So what would be your one piece of advice for someone who’s looking to start their own consultancy or their own small business like you did? What’s the one piece of advice you’d give them?
Oh my goodness. Again, as I said before just you know if you have — well with me with my experience in the past with web, you know always being authentic, always being transparent, always being yourself and using that consistent voice.
As long as you know who you are and you know what the ideas that you’re trying to project, as long as you can carry them onto your own business and just have that consistency, that’s how you’re going to be successful. That’s how you’re going to make it. That’s when you know that you should start your own business is if you know and you have proof that what you do works so well that you can dabble in other industries and you can help out other companies.
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