This Start-Up Story comes from Kat Dooney of Stripe Social, a social media manager who lives in Blackpool. Kat started her business after using the opportunity an unexpected redundancy gave her to re-evaluate, start afresh and follow her ambitions.
Tell me a little about you & your family, what your business is, and the inspiration behind getting started…
I’m Kat. I live near Blackpool with my fiance and toddler plus we have one on the way in early March. I’m a social media manager and the founder of Stripe Social. Every business has a story and a voice. Great social media can give a platform to both. I work with small business owners to identify theirs and perhaps even uncover some surprises along the way!
The inspiration (if you can call it that!) behind getting started was being made redundant in 2018. My background is in comms and PR so I knew that I wanted to continue in the same field but wasn’t quite sure what that was going to look like. I applied for jobs but really was going through the motions. My heart was saying, you have the time and opportunity to do things differently – what are you going to do? I was also looking for a career that would offer me flexibility to work around my family, something that I’d been trying to do since returning to work in 2016 but never quite getting the balance right.
How did you make the leap from idea on paper to reality with your business idea?
There was never really an idea on paper. I needed to let the shock and panic of being made redundant settle before I started thinking about what was next. I’d been aware of Digital Mums for a while but obviously never needed to think about signing up. After my redundancy was made official I started doing a bit more research into the course and what I would come out with at the end. I love social media and it complimented my existing skills so (after several conversations with the very patient admin team) I decided to invest some of my redundancy package to retrain and specialise as a social media manager and eventually set up my own business.
How did you get your first sale or client?
My first client was actually my Programme Partner from the Digital Mums course. I stayed on with the business for a few months after graduating which was great as I had some income while setting up Stripe Social and working on getting my name out there. My next client came through taking part in the Freelance Heroes tweet chat. I was contacted by a fellow participant looking to raise their profile through social media. We’re still working together today.
What ‘lucky breaks’ or helping hands have you had along the way that have really boosted your progress?
My helping hands are the community that I’ve built around my business. I believe this is as important as securing clients. You need to connect with other like minded business owners who are experiencing the same roller coaster as you. Through reaching out to people on social I now have a lovely network of people I can chat to or have a moan with. I’m always there for them too. I think taking part in tweet chats and joining Facebook groups is a big part of this. Many a time I’ve asked for advice and the response you get is amazing. It’s lovely to know people out there have your back (people I’ve never met in person) and I love being able to help them out too. The freelance community is awesome for that. I also have a weekly chat with my good friend Jen from my Digital Mums cohort. She’s my lifeline and quite often the voice of reason when I’m stressing about something!
What do you LOVE about your business and working for yourself?
I love that I’ve built this business from the ground up myself. It’s all mine. When I think where I started from to where I am now I feel really proud. I’ve got a way to go yet to get to where I want to be but I’m (mostly) enjoying the journey.
I also love being able to help small business owners move their business forward. When they first come to me they often can’t see the wood for the trees so it’s great being able to work with them and get back to the heart of what they want to achieve and how social media can support that. When they start to get results, it’s like they’re remembering why they are doing what they’re doing. I love being a part of that.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do since setting up on your own?
Putting yourself out there and believing in yourself and your capabilities is super scary. There’s no team or boss to hide behind, it’s just you. In the beginning I had to work on my mindset a lot (especially having been made redundant). I needed to get over the ‘Why do they want to work with me?’ mentality pretty quickly. It’s definitely something that gets easier with time and experience. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% confident all of the time but then who is? I think you need that little niggle of doubt to keep pushing you forward and to make sure complacency doesn’t set in.
What exciting plans do you have for your business over the next 6-12 months that you’d like to share?
Well the biggest thing on the horizon is welcoming the new baby. I’m so excited that our family is growing but at the same time I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up around the business. Over the next few months I’m going to be working on a plan to keep my business visible while taking a half decent maternity leave. I think this will involve expanding the range of social media training I offer and possibly taking the workshops online. I know it’s not going to be easy but I’ve been following accounts like Doing It For the Kids, Lucy from The Wern and Annie Ridout who are managing the juggle and more importantly sharing the realities of the juggle. If they can do it, so can I! I have options, I just need to wade through the info and understand my maternity rights first. Wish me luck because the DWP website is clear as mud!
On your own start-up adventure?
Drop me a message if you’d like a free 30-min clarity call to get a handle on how I can help you increase your income and impact in your own business: