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15 minutes with member Kate Toon

After discovering she was pregnant, Kate Toon realised she had to come up with another career "pretty darn quick". The rest is history.

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Describe your “Aha!” moment. When did your business idea first come to you?

There wasn’t so much an “Aha!” moment as an “Oh no!” moment. I was working as a contractor managing a large digital team when I got pregnant. I knew I couldn’t continue the job for much longer and had to come up with a new career pretty damn quick. So I set up katetoon.com and decided I’d do ‘online stuff’. I had no business plan, no big idea, just a slight feeling of panic and a need to earn money. 

Describe the “Why?” of your business

My “Why?” has evolved a lot over the years. When I started out as a soloist it was purely lifestyle driven. I needed to work at home, and I needed to earn money. I had not lofty purpose. Instead I took a head down, bum up approach.

Now, nine years on, I think my “Why?” has become something around helping people avoid digital pitfalls, creating content, and having fun. Money is still a big factor, but not as much as it was.

List your three biggest business goals; which of them scare you the most and why?

Honestly I don’t have any. I’ve had a busy few years, and ticked off every business goal I ever had. I’m yet to think of any new ones.

Right now I just want to keep on keeping on – work a little less, live a little more. I guess these simple goals scare me because you’re always worried someone will come up and ‘steal your spot’, or that you’ll lose your touch.

But I’m semi-confident that whatever happens I’ll be okay.

Has anything surprised you about working for yourself?

How much I enjoy it. I thought I’d miss the office banter, the Friday night drinks, and the dressing up and going out. But I don’t miss any of it at all. I always felt irked by having to say “Yes” to the boss man. So it’s glorious that now I get to do exactly what I want each day.

It also surprised me how much I can motivate myself to turn up and do the work, even when I really don’t feel like it. 

Once you became a soloist, what about your life changed almost immediately; and what changes have been slower to come?

Immediate changes were the need to find clients, be a business person, manage accounts and market myself.

People might think marketing myself came easy because I have an agency background. But it’s very different coming up with TV ad ideas for a big brand to putting yourself out there as a small business. I quickly learned how to silence my inner perfectionist and just get stuff out there, however flawed.

The change that’s been slower to come has been the confidence in myself. That my business model is good, and that I’m good enough. It’s such a competitive market, and I’ve spent too many hours looking over my shoulder, so it’s a relief to finally stop doing that. 

What’s the best part of the life you’re living now as a soloist?

I really enjoy getting out and meeting people. I did a lot of it last year – speaking at events, going to networking events, and doing book signings. Now that my business is a little more successful, I can afford to take time out and connect with other business owners, putting names to online faces.

I enjoy it so much that I actually started a Copywriting Conference so I could connect with people en masse. 

Kate Toon

Got a tip you’d like to share with our community about soloism?

“Turn up”. Turn up consistently, even when there’s no work. Even when you don’t feel like it. Sit at your desk and put in the time. If paid work is slow, invest time in marketing, building up a community, going to events. I’d say it’s this consistency that’s been key to my success.

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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