From standing next to Michael Jordan to training Ellie Goulding, Kate Fisher started her exciting career working in Nike’s EKIN program—operating as the eyes and ears for the Nike brand as well as traveling to different events and activations to educate on Nike’s latest and greatest. Since then, she’s also helped lifestyle brand, Saje Wellness, expand their reach from Canada down to California and spent 4 years opening 30+ stores, leading and building their reach across California and New York.
Like many other recent graduates confused about what they want to do, she landed in her career by a total fluke. “I studied business in school because I flunked out of Anatomy & Physiology. I originally went to school to be a physiotherapist. At the time, I was working at a small running store, running a lot, and just wanted to help people who were injured. When I couldn’t wrap my head around Biology, I decided that a business degree was practical for almost everything in life so I switched my major.”
Today, Kate is the founder and director of The Time Is Now, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in working with small and medium-sized businesses, helping them grow their brand awareness through Social Media, PR/Partnership Marketing, Email Marketing, and Campaign Management.
She’s sharing with us how she overcame the gruesome first years of entrepreneurship as well as what new and aspiring small business owners should focus on when starting out. Big thanks to Kate for sharing her experience with us!
Why did you start your current business?
“In March 2019 I was in a car accident and I had to take about 2 months off of work to recover from a bad concussion and neck injury. It was the first time in my life I was forced to slow down and assess how I was living. I was living a very fast-paced life, and my job was everything to me. I was working 10-12 hour days, often late into the night, and I had a realization that if I was willing to work that hard for someone else, the sky’s the limit if I could apply that to my own business. One of the first jobs I had was working for a small business that was deeply rooted in the community.
These types of businesses don’t (often) have access to good marketing, and I knew the impact I could have on their businesses. It just seemed like a no-brainer to me.”
What should small business owners focus on when they’re first starting their business?
“Finding your niche and how you’re going to differentiate from the industry norm/competition is number one for me. From there, everything else will be focused around this niche, allowing you to really build your specialties.”
What knowledge and skills would you say are the most important to you in your job?
“Nothing could have prepared me for the rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship (even my degree!), especially in my first year of business. I joke that I learned more in my first year in business than I did in my undergrad and 8 years of corporate marketing, but there is some truth to that. You aren’t taught grit and valor unless you’re living through it, and when times get rough, you just need to hold on. Now that I’m nearly 2 years in, communication and transparency are the two skills I rely most heavily on. As a remote team with clients and partners all over the world, this is vital when it comes to relationships and delivering good work.”
What have been your biggest challenges in starting your business?
“It’s pretty lonely in the beginning. Nearly two years in it may no longer be just me anymore, but I still have really lonely days. (Literally, as I type, my eyes start to water because it’s just one of those days). I think a big reason that entrepreneurs fail is that they can’t handle the loneliness—it’s just you on the line and you have no one to talk to when shit hits the fan, or when you have exciting news to share.
I was able to overcome this thanks to my business best friend Lauren. We joke that we’re business besties, but she’s truly the only one that understands what I’m going through. We met in early 2020 when she hired me to help her with her counseling practice’s Marketing (Latitude Counselling). She started her business around the same time as me, and we’ve had similar growth trajectories since.
When Covid hit, she had to stop working with me for various reasons and she quickly shifted from client to friend. Nothing is off the table with her—we’ve laughed, cried, and celebrated together, we’ve talked P+L’s, hiring needs, and expansion plans. We’ve been big rocks for each other, so much so that we started a second business in late 2020 offering services and tools for women who may not have that support network to lean on. We want to be able to support other women on their Entrepreneurial Journey the way we’ve been able to support each other.”
Was there an area that you wished you spent more time on in your business when you first started?
“This is so cliche, but systems and processes. I was told this very early on and before I had the chance to set these up, I just started chasing work. It wasn’t until 2 months ago when I hired a marketing manager on my team that we were able to set these up. Looking back a year and a half later, I’m not sure how I did it without them. So set up your systems people!”
What’s your advice for a small business owner who is trying to build out their business plan? What are the top 3 things that they should invest in FIRST?
“I may be the wrong person to ask here, because I didn’t have a business plan, at least not on paper. I went into my first year of business thinking I had somewhat of an idea of the types of clients I wanted to work with and the services I would offer. But other than that, everything else was in my head. Looking back, I’d recommend any business owner coming up with at least a one-page business plan to use as a starting point.
However, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we all need to be flexible and pivot on a dime. I can’t tell you how many times I had to pivot in 2020 and I don’t know that I would have as successfully if I was obsessing over a plan on paper.
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs at early stages in their journey, and the top 3 things I would suggest they invest in first are:
- Your mental health — whatever that looks like to you, it’s more important than anything. Being self-employed is a ruthless job, and taking care of your mental well-being is critical before anything else
- A good bookkeeping process — I waited until a week before my 2020 taxes were due to balance my books for the entire year. That’s a mistake I’ll never make again and now balance them on a monthly basis. Either hire a bookkeeper or balance them every month if you want to avoid a week of sleepless nights. Please learn from my mistake
- Your mailing list — don’t underestimate the power of a mailing list and the earlier you can start collecting emails, the better.”
Are there any publications or resources that you recommend to others in your field?
“I’m a type-A person and an entrepreneur—I need to digest my content as fast as possible. I’m a longtime loyal subscriber to Fast Co. and The Hustle’s email lists and most of my mornings start off by reading them. Quick and easy to digest, packed with industry news, world events, and trending topics.”
What tools do you use the most in your job daily? Which do you recommend for others starting in your field?
“We’re a 100% remote Agency, so tools that help in our day-to-day work and communication are important. Basecamp is my number one. It houses all of our client files and docs, has an internal chat function, and allows you to assign/schedule tasks which makes it really easy to track timelines. I would be running around in circles without it. Slack and Zoom are tied for second for internal and external communication.”
If you could go back to when you first started your business or when you were planning on starting your business, what 3 pieces of advice would you give yourself?
“I would laugh and tell her to buckle up, haha! But really, I would tell her:
- Invest in yourself, pronto—meditate, meditate more, go for daily walks to clear your head, and don’t feel bad taking a day off
- It’s okay to fire clients—do it early and do it quick
- This is going to be the best f**king job you’ll ever have if you can stomach the rollercoaster”
If you’d like to learn more about The Time is Now Marketing or find Kate on any of her socials, you can check her out here: