Q&A with Kate Bagoy
Kate Bagoy is an award-winning consultant & coach for entrepreneurs. After quitting a corporate dream job, Kate moved to Silicon Valley and fell in love with startups and entrepreneurship. The valley wasn’t a fit, but she caught the startup bug & has been working with entrepreneurs at all stages ever since - working with more than 50 startups as a designer, marketer, product manager, strategist, advisor, coach and consultant.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I studied graphic design in college and landed a sweet job with a Fortune 500 company within a year. It was a my dream job for awhile, but it slowly turned into a nightmare.
I quit that job without a plan, started freelancing and went back to school to earn a Masters in Business. At the time, the goal was to lead product innovation in the Valley… but after moving to the Bay Area for a job, I realized I really wanted to run my own business.
I struggled for a few years to get traction until I started really investing in my business and learning from more successful business owners.
In 2017, after having a successful couple of years in business, I left the US to travel full-time as a location-independent consultant and coach.
I work primarily with new consultants and entrepreneurs who want support growing their business and tactics for becoming financially and location-independent.
What inspired you to start your business?
I initially got started as a freelancer just to get out of my day job, which later became business & design consulting for startups.
Years later, I jumped into coaching because I believe life is too short to just exist.
I spent years in a self-made prison… burnt-out and trapped in a cubicle I hated, spending money on stuff that didn’t fill the void, drinking to avoid dealing with anything…
Now I help people move forward inspire the fear and doubt that’s kept them trapped before, and give them effective strategies for getting their life or business where they want to go.
Where is your business based?
My business is conducted 100% online. I’ve lived in 17 different countries in the last year as a digital nomad, but I spend the most time in Portland, London, Bangkok, Barcelona and Melbourne.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
My first business was a disaster. I quit my job without a plan and basically spent months cold calling, writing emails, working with anyone who would hire me. Don’t do that.
When I started consulting again years later, I approached things very differently. I started by investing in training and coaching to learn what I needed.
Then I got amazingly clear on who my client was and what they needed that I could provide better than anyone else.
I built a website that targeted that specific need, used every keyword related to that business in my LinkedIn Profile and started helping people. I’d share helpful content, volunteering at events, going to networking breakfasts… and basically building relationships.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
I’d say it’s a fairly even split between meeting people at events (like conferences or volunteering), referral marketing and social media / content marketing.
As a freelancer, LinkedIn was a source of more than 50% of my income - I got most of my business organically by people who found me in search, clicked through and booked an appointment. The rest of my income came from referrals and people I met local tech and marketing events.
As an online coach and consultant, Instagram and Facebook had been a big factor in my growth. I focus my effort on organic Instagram engagement and paid Facebook Ads.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge have always been mindset, money and energy.
When I pivoted into coaching I thought I was simply growing my exiting business but I was dead wrong. It was an entirely new business and far more difficult than I anticipated. Which means I failed to plan for it financially.
I simultaneously left the country to travel with Remote Year, and failed to anticipate how that would effect me energetically.
The problem with burnout is that it sneaks up on you until it completely shuts you down - and then it takes forever to recover from.
Now my biggest challenge is growing a business while struggling with physical exhaustion and a lack of funds.
How I move forward is slowly… but I don’t give up.
The more entrepreneurs I work with, the more I am convinced that the survival rate of a new business has less to do with the right ideas or perfect strategy than it does the founders willingness to keep going when things are hard and problem solve.
How do you stay focused?
I start my days with a gratitude list and then get focused on what’s most important. I write down the 3 most important things to get done that day, and I do those first if I can.
I say NO to a lot of things, spend little time in email, rarely use social media and unsubscribe to things with a vengeance.
When in doubt, I ask myself if the activity is revenue driving.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
As a coach my differentiation has more to do with my personality than any other factor, which is a big shift from previous businesses I’ve run.
My clients want to work with me because of my energy and authenticity. I don’t sugar coat things and make outrageous claims just to make sales, and my ideal clients appreciate that.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
I tripled my email list and opt-in rate when I started offering webinars on evergreen.
I’ve now switched to video training which are also highly-effective when combined with targeted social media posts. Quizzes, and video posts perform best for getting people into the funnel.
For example, I’ll run an ad that links to a quiz, which pre-qualifies the leads and directs them to an email opt-in for a free video training or to book a strategy call.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Pay yourself first and pay yourself well.
This likely means raising capital before you want to, but in my experience, most new businesses fail because the founder failed to plan for his or her financial needs and runs out of money and energy.
Take a business loan early and invest in the right training, tools and support for your business up front so you can grow.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny. I read it close to a decade ago and doubled my salary within two years. I recommend it to nearly every woman I meet.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
WiFi! Because it allows me to run my business from anywhere in the world.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Tony Robbins, because he’s gotten immensely wealthy doing what he loves and changing lives. If I can impact one person the way his programs have impacted me I will have been successful in life.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Massive growth for my training program, Six Figure Freelancers, and a podcast launch.
How can our readers connect with you?