Amy Kinnaird is a professional speaker and business and marketing consultant. See how this mom's entrepreneurial journey began in 2008, and how her business has evolved over the years.
You’ve been working from home since 2008. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
Thanks for asking, Holly. My corporate background was 30 years in computers and software, starting with IBM in the late 70s! So it was natural when I started my own business that the software of the time – social media – would be a big focus. It was just a marketing tool to me, just like having a great website.
From my first few solopreneur clients where I was doing a variety of marketing and techie tasks for an hourly fee, to much larger companies with bigger problems and big retainers, I've seen and experienced a lot!
How has your business evolved over the years?
Like most business owners, my focus and direction has changed several times. The shifts came as I got clarity about what I do best and who my target client is. I’ve changed the scope of my offerings and started to serve a specific industry and larger corporations. My original focus on marketing has evolved to working with CEOs on their people problems and process problems. I still get asked about social media, but I only offer programs on LinkedIn now.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?
1. Speaking has been the best marketing strategy for me. A lot of my business comes from people who have been in my audiences or referrals from those who have been to one of my programs.
2. I do a lot of local networking to build strong relationships with people, connect others and be visible in the community.
How did you land your first clients?
When I began my business, I sent out a “warm letter” to about 25 of my business friends. In the letter, I told them what I was doing and who would be an ideal client. I went on to say that it probably wasn’t them, but that they might know just the right client for me. I did a follow-up phone call to each one who received my letter. One of the conversations led to being hired on the spot. Then by word of mouth I picked up my next few clients as I started networking, both online and offline.
How are you monetizing your business?
Most of my business comes from the retainer clients I consult with. This consists of strategies, setting up processes, mentoring new managers and making sure they implement their marketing plans. Other income comes from speaking and training on topics in my areas of expertise.
What has been the key to your success and longevity?
Surrounding myself with great, smart people has been key. Success also comes from investing in yourself. That might take the form of a coach, continually learning the latest industry news, staying on top of the tech, reading everything you can to build your skill sets and going to conferences at least twice/year. How can you expect a client to invest big dollars on you if we won't spend that on yourself?
What has been your biggest struggle as an entrepreneur?
Focus! Y'all, I don't have the ideal work-from-home temperament. My husband also works from home, which can get loud if he’s in the office! On the other hand, he’s there for help when I need some feedback or someone to go lunch with.
What advice would you give to other women who want to start their own business?
Don’t quit your day job, or at least have some financial security while you get your own business up and going. You’re going to work a lot harder than you expect, and it takes a while to replace what you were making before.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
It’s hard to do it all well. Something always has to give. For me, my personal activities (gym, Bible study, visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home each afternoon) get slotted in first, and business fits around that. That means that I work in scattered chunks of time during the day and usually a couple of hours after dinner. My kids are grown and gone, so I have that time. I just have to work smarter and outsource certain things to others.
Thank you, Amy!
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