Q&A with Entrepreneur Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke is an urban literacy specialist, author, speaker, and founder of Creative Minds Publications, LLC, a global reading educational company. She helps failing schools become fully accredited in reading in one to two years. Her books are used in homes and schools in all 50 states as well as 26 countries on 6 continents. http://creativemindspublications.com/
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I graduated from Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia with a BS degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in literacy and culture. I taught first, second, and third grade in Title I inner-city elementary schools in the Richmond, Virginia area before becoming a K-5 reading specialist. I wrote my first children’s book when I was teaching second grade.
What inspired you to start your business?
I originally started my business to promote and market my first book, a multicultural children’s book entitled Amy’s Travels while teaching full time.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Richmond, Virginia.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Since I was teaching full time when I first started my business, I worked on my company nights and weekends. Once I wrote and published my first book, I created a website to sell the book and promote the link through a variety of correspondence. I also planned book readings, talks, and events around my home city to share my book with fellow teachers and families.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Social media has by far helped raise awareness of my business. In addition, my presentations, workshops, and freelance writing for educational and parenting publications have increased the awareness and presence of my business.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My business is in its twelfth year, which I now run full time. I have faced challenges along the way including the fact that I was told I was too young, that my ideas were cute, and I was not taken seriously because I had no business experience. Fortunately, I had enough faith in myself to continue to work and get results to prove people wrong. I also continued to write letters, send emails, make phone calls, and set up meetings to share my work and story with potential clients and partners.
How do you stay focused?
I am very goal oriented and constantly creating new ventures that I always put 100% of myself into a day because I can visualize the end goal. I’m a driven, ambitious, focused woman by nature.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
In my mind, I am a teacher first and created my company to motivate, support, and inspire teachers, families, and leaders in education. Therefore, I maintain most of my time in classrooms and schools so I’m able to relate directly to my clients. I’ve also been able to create partnerships with companies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and organizations including 25 NFL teams to make my business and passion in literacy education more mainstream.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
For me, storytelling has been my most effective marketing strategy. My books, letters, emails, presentations, workshops, and keynote speeches allow me to share my passion and purpose with a wide audience, which greatly grows my business daily.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My best advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs is to never give up, develop a thick skin, and be your biggest advocate. Every entrepreneur has a story to tell. Tell yours.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
As an author and literacy specialist, my favorite title is the children’s book, The Giving Tree.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favorite business tool is my company email account, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram because I can instantly connect and converse with fellow teachers, authors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and potential partners.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Leslie Blodgett is a favorite business role model of mine. She grew up in the mid-Atlantic like I did and simply worked hard to gain her success. She also leads her business lifestyle with compassion, kindness, positive energy, and pure heart. In my opinion, these are traits of a great leader and individual.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
In the next six months, I will be planning and implementing the 2nd annual Tackle Reading across America Day to promote a love of literacy with a passion for football. This takes place with the help of over 25 NFL teams, athletes, celebrities, and educational business leaders. I will also continue to network and meet with potential investors as I build an Ed tech startup to teach the world to read.
How can our readers connect with you?
Social Media Handles @KathrynStarke on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook; @CreativeMindsPublications on Facebook