My guest today is Kaitlyn Cook with South Street & Company. Kaitlyn has grown her company from a part-time dream to a thriving company with the cutest office on Summerlin and South Street in Downtown Orlando. I love Kaitlyn’s “can-do” attitude and work ethic, and I know that has kept her focused and committed to her goals. I enjoyed hearing all about her story and how hard she has hustled and the support system she had surrounding her while she built her business.
South Street’s focus is on small to medium-sized businesses where Kaitlyn can really work with them as a marketing partner to help their company shine. She’s such a hard worker, and I am constantly amazed by what she is able to accomplish on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
1. You will have to put in the extra work at first
Once Kaitlyn decided she was going to start her own company, she came up with a game plan. She gave herself two years to start working for herself. “A lot of people say I’m lucky, but I got up before work and worked from 5am-6:30am, then 8-5 at my full-time job and came home and worked until 11PM, five days a week. Then on the weekends, I did all of the client work,” Kaitlyn told me about the early days of her business.
She had no work/life balance during that time, it was just all work. However, it was with a specific goal in mind that she was working towards, and she knew the reward was worth the effort. In March, her company is celebrating two years in business because of the hard work Kaitlyn put in, especially in the early days when she did nothing else.
2. A support system is key to success
Kaitlyn spoke about her mom and fiancé a lot in our interview. When she reached a plateau at her full-time job, it was the advice of her parents that encouraged her to pursue the entrepreneurship path. Kaitlyn told me to “find people who believe in you, and find people who want to push you further.” That’s what she found in her support system from her family.
3. Eventually, You Have to Find Balance
The way she worked in the early days of her business wasn’t sustainable long term, but with her end goal in mind, she knew it was important to concentrate on it the way she did. She knew that sometimes leaning into the crunch times is part of the journey, and that’s something she embraced.
Once Kaitlyn left her full-time job and was only concentrating on her business, she found ways to incorporate balance back into her life. For her, turning off her work phone after a certain point in the day, creating a regular running routine, and finding time to have a date night with her fiancé has been key to finding the right balance. “At the end of the day, you only have one life to live,” she told me.
4. You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, but Try to Stand Out
The act of starting a business is a difficult one. There is so much self-doubt that goes along with it, such as what’s the right price to charge, do you know how to deliver to the client, and are you worth the money you need and want to charge. Kaitlyn told me that if you have the right perception, then people will believe you. In other words, you have to believe yourself first!
Get over the cost in your mind. If you believe you are worth it, your potential clients will believe you will be worth it. Additionally, only deal with the clients you know you’ll know how to deal with. You will either have to hustle to figure out how to do it, or you will have to know you won’t have the time to figure out how to do it. Understand what exactly is your wheelhouse and what you can provide for a customer. You want to keep clients for a long time.
Most importantly, trust your intuition! Not every client is the best client for you. Learn how to walk away from ones that aren’t the right fit.
Once you find the right customers, “go the extra mile; it’s never crowded,” Kaitlyn said to me. A lot of people do the bare minimum and never do anything extra. In order to stand out, Kaitlyn pays attention to the details that will help her shine amongst her competition. For example, after she is rewarded work from a client, she takes the extra time to send a handwritten note thanking them for the business.
5. When You Make a Mistake, Own Up to it
Everyone makes mistakes, no matter what phase you’re in with your business or career. When you make a mistake, own up to it. As a way to cope with the mistake, “turn to the people that mean the most to you,” Kaitlyn said. Find a mentor that can help you through the situation you’re struggling with.
“Stuff happens, life happens, whatever!” Kaitlyn told me. Talk things over with your support system or mentor. Ask others to help you find ways to come up with creative solutions to the problems. Turn them into learning experiences and opportunities instead.