I recently had the opportunity to interview the very affable Kathryn Price from KSP TechCare for our Courageous Women series of blogs. I had only met Kathryn briefly on maybe two occasions before meeting to talk about her and her business, so I was intrigued to find out more.
It soon became apparent from my conversation with Kathryn, that she is hugely passionate about what she does, and the service she offers her clients. Her business is less than a year old, and yet she is going from strength to strength, and loving the journey.
Following redundancy, to then taking a leap of faith to commit to her business idea has both amazed and enthralled Kathryn. Join me as we discover what her business is all about, and how she gets to incorporate her love of gadgets and technology in her everyday working life.
What was life like before KSP Techcare? What were you up to?
I had worked in IT for 30 years, for MOD, local government and private business, quite remarkable really considering I achieved ungraded in my CSE Computer Skills at school; mind you there were no computers to speak of back in the early ‘80’s.
I started out as a section clerk in the MOD for about a year, however filing really wasn’t my thing and I soon moved to the IT department. From working on the mainframe computer, to making microfiche, and then setting up databases, I became very adept at learning new skills.
Starting a family, I decided to stay at home after my daughter was born, and returned to the commercial world of working in IT part-time after a few years, to fit with family life and school hours.
Years later I joined a company supporting schools with their IT, helping them to integrate IT into the new curriculum and to resolve any issues that cropped up. Then quite unexpectedly last year I was made redundant, and at age 50, I couldn’t get a job in IT.
I was never going to do my own thing; it just simply wasn’t on the cards, although my options were limited, and I had this idea that could just work – a technical support business that specialised in helping older clients to understand and enjoy technology.
I was on to something.
I went to the Job Centre the next morning, explained that I wanted to sign off; I knew I could earn more working for myself. They offered me the new enterprise allowance, designed to support new businesses. As a result I had a mentor for 3 months, I wrote my business plan, and when that got signed off in September I officially opened my doors for business.
KSP TechCare now operates from my home office, a converted garage at the end of my garden. It is the culmination of many years of experience working in IT, and my desire to go out and help others. My target audience is anyone over the age of 50, who wants to embrace technology and keep up with the latest trends, and needs a personal approach to help them to do this.
Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How would you describe it?
For me one of the lightbulb moments was seeing my dad walking up my driveway every few days with his laptop for me to either help him with something or to fix it.
I realised I couldn’t be the only person this was happening to, how many other people out there were having this same problem with their family or friends? The question then was could I be the person to help solve the problem?
I suppose another lightbulb moment was during the middle of last year, when I was struggling to get a job. I had been to visit a friend for the weekend down in the south-west, and on the journey home I had a moment of clarity. At that point knew I wanted to be self-employed, and most importantly self-sufficient.
Understand and enjoy technology in today’s digital world.
What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?
After being made redundant last year, and struggling to find work at 50, my confidence and self-esteem took a battering. I’m still shocked and have nightmares about the whole experience, however I am where I am today because of that situation, and that to me is the most surprising lesson of all. I’m still amazed and can’t quite believe I set myself up in business; it really has been the best decision.
Even in such a short space of time, I can confidently stand up and deliver my 60 second pitch at our networking meetings. I know I am taking massive steps when it comes to building my confidence and self-belief as I am always trying to stretch myself and step out of that comfort zone.
What’s a typical week for you?
I don’t work Monday to Friday or 9-5 anymore, my hours are much more flexible, and I love it.
I used to feel guilty for taking time out during the day, but I’m past all that now, and if I choose to work at the weekend, and have a coffee with friends in the week, then so be it.
A typical week involves seeing clients in their own homes to help them with their technology, Skype calls, and repairs (which I can do from my own home office.)
As a new start-up business I spend a great deal of my time networking to help build my brand, and to get established as an expert in the field. I also really enjoy co-working with other small business owners at a local venue. This helps to keep me motivated, and it’s a great opportunity to share skills and learn from each other.
The variety and flexible working certainly keeps me on my toes.
What has been your biggest challenge in your business?
One of the biggest challenges has been to learn to accept that my workload can vary week on week. I am reliant on my client’s demands, and it’s difficult to predict when a piece of technology is likely to fail or someone will need my support or training.
The feeling of uncertainty and not knowing when the phone was going to ring, used to make me feel very uneasy. Now I’ve come to accept that this is the very nature of my business, and to trust that I am doing my best to make myself known to those clients who really need me.
Another difficult challenge has been managing the perceptions of friends and acquaintances whilst I’ve been taking an entirely new direction in my life. Although I understand their worries and concerns for the risks involved in setting up a business, it’s not been easy to hear their criticism. To counteract this I have found the safety and support from those who I now network with. Being with like-minded business owners whose circumstances reflect those of mine has helped me enormously.
What are your greatest passions in life? Are you able to weave these into your business?
I’m a self-confessed gadget fan. It probably all started when I got my first rubix cube, the first of many gadgets.
If somethings broken I can usually take it apart and fix it. I’m kind of resourceful like that, and love the sense of achievement when I’ve brought a gadget or piece of technology back to life and made it usable again.
My other greatest passion is that I simply love helping people, and this is something that now I get to do every day through my business. I help to give people the confidence to have a go and use technology, with the back-up that they can always call me to come and fix it, or be there to answer their questions.
What or who inspires you to grow and develop both personally and in your business?
Networking has been a revelation, I feel more inspired with each meeting I attend. The people there believe and trust in my business and having their support has undoubtedly helped to restore my self-esteem and confidence in what I have to offer.
I have learnt to accept that my networking peers and my clients see me as an expert in my field, something I never dreamt I could be. Now I am being asked for advice and my opinion on certain matters, and this inspires me to keep learning, growing, and innovating.
What are you most grateful for in your business?
That we are financially secure, and can afford for me to have my business.
I’m not looking for it to grow beyond me. I love being my own boss, and I very much want it to stay that way.
What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?
I take enormous pride in what I do; from fixing problems and trouble-shooting, to supporting someone to learn how to use their technology so that it enhances their life in some way. Receiving feedback and wonderful testimonials from my clients is hugely rewarding. Knowing that I have made a difference to a person or their business is what it’s all about for me.
Although being my own boss was never on the cards, I am certainly reaping the benefits, and this has been an unexpected reward, in that I am now in charge of my own time. I’m not tied to fixed hours; I work flexibly which means I get to do other things I enjoy. I invigilate at a local school, and I have recently signed up to be a school mentor to offer extra one to one support to students.
What do you consider to be courageous?
Not being scared to give something a go, and being resolute in your decision to try.
For me starting up a business takes more courage and guts than going to work for someone. I know it isn’t, but I think many people assume it is easier.
Although you’ve got to do every job; wear all the hats and be every department, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s next for you? What are your aspirations for the future?
I’m always looking for new ways to help people feel more comfortable and confident about using their technology, whether that’s in their home or for work and business. It is still early days and I’m mindful that it takes time to build a trusted business reputation, and generate a solid client base. The aim is to keep serving those who need me, and to deliver a service that I am proud to put my name to.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
A couple of things; the first would be to take as much help as you can get, whether that’s through government schemes with financial support and mentoring or simply discovering your local networking scene, to get out there, get your business known, and meet other like-minded business owners.
The second would be to feel assured that when you first take that step and begin to mingle with other businesses, that they might not have all their ducks in a row either. Everyone has to start from somewhere, and it’s inspiring to hear that, and realise you have shared experiences.
And finally, I would definitely recommend finding a work buddy. Having someone who will inspire you to keep going, and support you through the highs and the lows, someone to talk to, who is also self-employed, and gets what you are trying to achieve.
I hope this interview has offered you another interesting insight into the journey of starting out in business. If you would like to find out more about what Kathryn has to offer at KSP TechCare, why not hop on over to her website here.
Here are 2 fabulous takeaway tips from Kathryn’s interview;
#1 Get out there and network – whether it’s from the comfort of your sofa through groups on social media, or at face to face meetings, networking is a really effective way of building your business, and establishing yourself as the “go to” person for whatever service or product you have to offer.
#2 Find a work buddy – this is a great tip, and I know I have been lucky enough to find a wonderful group of supportive business owners who I often call on for support and help. It’s great to have someone you know and trust, and who understands the challenges and benefits of being self-employed to call upon.
Until next time, be truly you!