This week on the blog, I chat to Katie Colella from her eponymous business, Katie Colella Social. I met Katie a few months ago as we are both involved in The Fempreneur Collective. Katie will be a guest blogger at The Fempreneur Collective’s blog. I love her energy and bubbly nature, and she’s got such great style. I had to ask her for an interview. She agreed and you can read about her epic entrepreneurial journey below. Seriously, she knows so much about different kinds of businesses because she’s been there and done it. This contributes hugely to her social media business. She’s got the social media strategies and the business strategy knowledge to add tangible value to her clients’ businesses.
Q: Briefly tell us about your business journey. (What helped you decide to start your own business? What did you do before working for yourself?)
I started my entrepreneurial journey fairly young. I loved earning money from a young age and would help out around the house for 50p from my mum. It never lasted long as I also enjoyed spending what I’d earned!
At the age of 18, I bought my first business – a sandwich bar and catering business and I loved it. It was a small shop, but I also started deliveries to local industrial parks. At one stage, I also tried having a 2nd shop – only for a few months, but it wasn’t viable to have two and try to continue to do so much myself. I absolutely loved working for myself and having the control of my day-to-day schedule, but also learned a lot about me and my control-freak nature!
3 years after starting the business, I sold it and went into employment, but the idea of starting another business was always calling me back. My now-husband and I went on holiday a few years later and decided that running a guest house would be a perfect business for us and an idyllic way to bring up children! A few months later we had researched, found a property, bought it, and when we walked in, we wondered what on earth we were thinking. A complete renovation and 3 guest rooms later, we welcomed our first guests. The first year was great: busy and hard work, but we enjoyed being hosts to some wonderful people. I had 2 children and the years rolled by. We also started a few online businesses during this time and sold various items that I imported from China.
We had that business for 5 years before selling it. We moved back to another property we owned and I decided that I would be starting another business – definitely based online, but something different to what I’d been doing previously.
After some research, I decided to start a business selling homeware and giftware. This business grew fairly quickly and we moved to a larger home, then to a small unit and another larger unit all within a couple of years of starting. The business grew organically through social media and I literally ate, breathed and slept giftware! My husband and I travelled to China on a business trip to meet with manufacturers and to negotiate importing stock directly, rather than through UK wholesalers. It was all very exciting and going great.
That is, until one day when I just felt I had lost my ‘mojo’ with this business and wasn’t enjoying it in the same way. I listed it on a website that advertises businesses for sale and had nearly 40 enquiries. I had two people interested during the first week and the 2nd person made an offer the following day. I wanted a quick sale, so that I could move on, and a month later the deal was all signed! I had sold the business.
I then decided that I really wanted to help other entrepreneurs with their businesses. I had notoriously been a nightmare at trying to do it all myself and not too good at outsourcing – until I learned about the power of getting help and working more efficiently. I started my current business which helps female entrepreneurs improve their online presence and now love working alongside amazing women as I help to grow their businesses.
Q: What was the process you followed when starting to set up your brand?
Whilst in the process of selling my last business, I started this one in the background. I knew the importance of building a brand and keeping it consistent in style, but I probably did everything backwards!
I started with building my WordPress website (which has changed a couple of times since then), then once I was happy with certain aspects like colours, fonts, style etc, I copied as much as possible to use across my social media channels and anywhere else that I can use branding. It’s changed since I started, and I still tweak regularly now, but It’s important to me to try and stay on-brand with my visuals.
Q: How do you manage your branding and make sure everything you do (from business cards, to packaging, to branding collateral) keeps in line with your brand?
I have files of fonts and hex codes that I use and aim to keep these across the board when designing graphics etc. I’m a huge fan of Canva, and have my brand set up in there, making it easy to create graphics etc for whatever I need.
Q: How do you manage your social media commitments?
I spend most of my day on social media for myself and clients, and have done for this business and for a large chunk of my last business too. It’s so important for a business, but can be overwhelming and burn you out if you aren’t careful. I schedule and automate what I can and chunk tasks down to make it easier. But in all honesty, I still dive in and out between client work and whilst ‘not working’ in the evenings.
Q: How do you motivate yourself to keep going when your inner critic’s voice gets a bit too loud?
A: I am naturally a positive person, but having been self-employed for most of my adult life, boy oh boy do I know the feeling of the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. I don’t think that little internal critic ever stops!
I’ve learned to work more on my mindset during the past year and I’ve opened up to a bit of ‘woo-woo’. I’m working on believing in my worth and value and try to take time daily to meditate, tell myself that I can do this, try to journal and show gratitude for what I have. I surround myself with positive quotes and affirmations, read a lot of inspirational books, and I spend time in positive supportive groups of like-minded women (for example, The Fempreneur Collective Facebook group), who I know understand the same issues and fears we all face. Every time I have a wobble (often), I have a work with myself and go back to basics!
Q: What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned since you started your business?
A: That success doesn’t (often at least) happen overnight. Don’t compare yourself with those that are further on in their journey than you are. If you are at the early stages, keep at it. Be consistent and don’t quit. To succeed you need to believe that you are capable of achieving your dreams and goals. Without belief, you may as well pack up and go home now!
Melissa De Klerk
Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi
Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.
You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.