Tell me a little bit about your background and how you ended up choosing your field.
After earning an engineering undergraduate degree, I began my career in sales, marketing, and management. For 12 years, I worked at a Fortune 500 company followed by a series of technology start-ups. I managed teams in sales, customer support, operations, and marketing. I hired, fired, and project managed. I launched new initiatives within large organizations and new organizations outright.
I was known as a creative problem solver and innovative thinker with a reputation for getting things done. A big-picture strategic mindset combined with the rigor of detailed planning enabled me to execute strategies and concepts to meet the business objectives. And I brought my strength in bridging competing goals and the ability to manage through influence and lead in difficult environments.
When the fashion technology startup where I was Chief Operating Officer lost its funding, I was approached by the principal of our PR firm to help her rebrand her business and create new service offerings to move her boutique agency to a new level. This was my first consulting client. It was almost 10 ago, and although there have been challenges, I’ve not looked back.
What are 3 tips you can share with our readers as it relates to your industry?
Three tips I would share to anyone working in business consulting and coaching (or any industry really), all of which are lessons I’ve had to learn myself, are:
- Treat everything as an experiment, a test. When I’m working with clients to launch new businesses or revenue streams, we create a plan and begin executing the various pieces. At some point, something inevitably doesn’t work out as we had hoped. The results were not what we expected. Instead of getting frustrated or down (which is an understandable result), I remind them – it’s okay, this is just a test. And we dig in… what worked, what didn’t, how can we adjust to get the desired outcome? And then we test again. This flexible, open, learning mindset is one key to long-term success.
- When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I find this to be true in life “writ large,” but it’s especially true when it comes to business. When we launch new companies or services or products, we want clients and customers. Those who will pay us, of course. But it’s easy to fall into the trap that, beyond that, anyone will do. The problem is this … for most of us, our time and our marketing budget are limited. And without a clear understanding of who we are trying to reach (aka our ideal client) we risk spending these limited resources on those who are really not a fit for what we have to offer, and thus not reaching those who could benefit the most. To identify those who are the best fit is a process, but one that is worth the effort. Once we complete that process, we then need to summon the discipline to focus on this group even when we are tempted to do otherwise, to be all things to all people. Know who your customer is and stick with them until some other key aspect of your business changes.
- If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. It took me awhile to learn this. I was too embarrassed or shy or downright scared to ask for what I wanted or needed. Scared of what? Scared of silence (aka no response), and worse, scared of that dreaded word … NO. But time passed and eventually I got it… if I don’t summon up the courage to ask, the answer is always no. So, what did I have to lose? And as more time went by, I realized that even a “no” is not a big deal. It’s not personal. On to the next. Some days I have to remind myself of this, but when I do, I am able to take the action that I need to at the time.
How do you personally define success? What does it mean to you?
For me, success means reaching the point where I am defining what success looks like rather than tying the definition to that of my upbringing and societal expectations. It means carving my own path rather than looking to others.
How do you differentiate yourself from others in your field?
I am industry agnostic in terms of my clients. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs across a variety of vertical markets, including public relations, fashion, luxury retail design, the high-end fitness space, healing, wellness, and creativity, among others. Pretty much nothing is off limits. I see so many unbelievably smart, talented individuals who don’t see just how good they are – I want to help them recognize, acknowledge, and express that goodness. I love helping them get out of their own way, to do and be more than they thought possible.
My approach is to ask questions, pulling apart assumptions and conflicting priorities, and getting to the root of their “why.” In the process, the client discovers the right goals and the best way to pursue them given their background, expertise, and life circumstances. Our goal is to find a way to adapt or create the business about which they’re most passionate and develop the messaging and plan to help bring that vision into reality.
To date, my client work has been strictly one-to-one, largely via referral. Now I am excited to be launching a 6-week online course to take a group of female solopreneurs who have outgrown the current definition of their business and life and are unsure how to tap into their full earning potential, learn how to gain clarity of purpose, identify viable revenue streams, and create their plan to move forward in an empowered, intentional, profitable way.
What advice would you give to someone asking for advice about becoming an entrepreneur?
For anyone considering becoming an entrepreneur, my advice would be:
- If possible, start your new endeavor when you have another source of income.
- Do your homework – research online, buy books, talk to people in the industry who can give you an idea of the opportunities and obstacles you are likely to experience.
- Do a thorough self-assessment – identify your strengths and weaknesses, where you can excel and areas in which you will need help.
- Get clarity on the services/products you’ll offer, who your customer is, and your messaging to reach them.
- Get an idea of how much money you’ll need to launch and plan for that given your life/work circumstances.
- And when you’re ready to go for it, be positive, proactive, and kind to yourself.
To get in touch you can find me at: katherinedanesi.com and on Facebook @katherinedanesi.