How She Does It: Kathryn Rose Founder & CEO, wiseHer

Kathryn Rose

About Kathryn Rose

Kathryn is the founding CEO of wiseHer, a global knowledge marketplace that helps women business owners and professionals overcome unique challenges on-demand through 1:1 access to thousands of executives, coaches/mentors, education and resources that accelerate business or career growth. She is a serial entrepreneur, former Wall Street sales leader and an author of 9 books. She has been featured in CBS Marketwatch, Fox News and more.

Prior to devoting her focus to wiseHer, Kathryn was an executive marketing consultant for large global and local clients developing targeted online campaigns resulting in millions of engaged fans, followers and connections. Kathryn is a highly sought after speaker at leading global industry events with technology powerhouses — Google, IBM, Dell Technologies — and women focused events such as Women in Tech Summit and the Grace Hopper Celebration focused on helping IT professionals, women and small business leaders achieve a higher level of success.

Kathryn is on the faculty for the IT leading association, CompTIA - the voice of Information Technology, is a member of the Executive Council of Advancing Women in Technology, and is a sales coach for MBA candidates at Harvard Business School. Kathryn is regarded for her grit, tenacity, creative problem solving, glass-half-filled approach and her ability to laugh, always.

A tireless champion for women, Kathryn has received accolades for her vision, commitment, and leadership. Kathryn has dedicated her career to coaching, speaking, and writing best-selling business books that drive business owners to greater success with their sales and marketing efforts. She has created an outstanding network of women at every level, and in many industries, to support and promote women in their businesses or careers.

About wiseHer

wiseHer provides women 1:1 access to qualified advisers, education and resources that help them accelerate their business or careers.

Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Kathryn. Would you please share with us how you got started as an entrepreneur?

Kathryn Rose: Glad to be here, Deb. In 2007, I was a sales leader for a Wall Street firm and about to give birth to my first child. Then everything up-ended–the mortgage market melted down and I was laid off. At the same time my mom had a brain aneurysm leaving her paraplegic.

With no job, a new baby, and my mom in the hospital, I knew I had to do something and fast. And I wanted my son to grow up thinking his mom is a fighter not a quitter.

So I did what all good salespeople do–go to my network and see if I could start something new. I called all of my old clients offering them my services for sales training, marketing, really anything I could do that didn’t involve a true full-time opportunity (this was before the gig economy). Their main need was to get a better online presence. Specifically they wanted their websites to rank on page one for Google and other search engines. I thought, “how hard could that be?” and told my top client I would get back to him in two weeks. Well…it turns out it’s pretty hard, especially with NO internet background whatsoever.

No one I knew owned their own business — never mind in technology — so I had to figure it out for myself. I turned to online resources and found everyone wanted me to take their course or read their book. I knew that if I just found someone to talk to, someone to teach me, I could do it. I was on Craig’s List looking for something and on a whim typed in “learn SEO” and I found someone, an expert. I spoke to him every day for 2 weeks, paying him for his time and expertise, and soon I had my first paying client!

I then began to get involved in social media–again paying for expertise when needed–and quickly set up a successful SEO and Social Media consultancy. I went on to write 9 books (including two best sellers), be featured on TV (Fox News, Channel 12 and others), and became an international speaker.

I also joined a lot of women’s networking groups (like many of us do) thinking I could find clients there but I quickly found out that the statistics were true: 90% of women-owned businesses are solopreneurs and 88% made under $100k in revenue. The fact is they simply did not have the budget to hire outside consultants, so I did what I could to help them: I wrote books and did a lot of “pick my brain” sessions and coffees for free.

In 2013, after realizing I had no idea how to scale a consulting business (and after the birth of my daughter), I went back into corporate and ran sales for a software company. I had lots of experience working in male-dominated fields and thought maybe things would be different after a 5 year break. No such luck! I found out my male counterpart was being paid $25,000 more than I was!

When the company was sold, I decided that I was going to do something to help women. As I looked more into women in business and their challenges, I uncovered some alarming trends. In 10 years, women went from owning 10 million business to nearly 13 million businesses but 90% were STILL solo and under $100k in revenue–we weren’t starting more profitable businesses, just more businesses. In terms of career, the numbers of women in top posts were actually declining. I set out to figure out why and design something useful, something impactful that will help women get unstuck and move them forward, faster.

Enter wiseHer. Our platform makes it easy for women to do what I did — leverage tactical, practical advice from experts all over the world to move their businesses and careers forward and change their lives for the better.

Building a technology platform–especially a marketplace focused on one segment of the population–is not for the faint of heart. There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel but the mission and my team kept me going. We are not venture-capital funded (yet). We are a small and mighty team who are here to do what we can to help women around the world rise higher.

Deb: You've had a quite a journey. Are there any “lessons learned” that you’d like to share?

Kathryn: There are so many lessons, but the number one is really to just get started. Figure out what your why is, why this product or business, why now and go out and talk to people, ask questions, find out if this is a real need and, more importantly will people pay for it.

Deb: Who are your ideal clients?

Kathryn: Our focus is on women who are looking to go forward, faster in their businesses or careers globally.

Deb: What are some of your successes and challenges?

Kathryn: We recently were named Top 100 Startup of the Year and have received lots of accolades and press around our activities, however, the real success is that we have had our first customers, real people who are not within our close network that have booked time with our experts. That is so validating and it keeps us going through the challenges. I’d say the challenges are like so many businesses, trying to do a lot with a little. We operate with a small team, not a lot of capital from outside investors but we are making it work!

Deb: That sounds fantastic. What inspires you to do the work you do?

Kathryn: The fact that I know it will have an impact, we are building something useful, something that will help women around the world start, build and grow businesses or help them rise higher in their careers.

Deb: What’s your vision for your business?

Kathryn: Our goal is to help women rise, one answer at a time.

Deb: You've got a lot going on. What is your favorite activity to relax and unwind?

Kathryn: I like to spend time with my kids, watching them read or listening to them practice their instruments or watching them play sports, it’s truly a blessing and I enjoy it so much!

Deb: What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

Kathryn: That old saying, you wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you if you realized how little they did is so true. So many of us live in fear of what people think, I’m not saying to go out and be rude or disrespectful but go out as if everyone wants to see you succeed because there are more people who do than you realize.

Deb: What do you think are the top 3 traits an entrepreneur must have?

1. Resilience -- this is not easy, it’s a day to day up and down. You must be able to see the why clearly so you don’t get caught up in any one little thing that can throw you off.

2. Realize it’s a marathon not a sprint -- too many “gurus” are out there talking about getting to 6 figures in 6 months, it’s just not the reality for the vast majority. In my experience it takes 18-24 months for a business to catch fire and that is consistently showing up and working hard.

3. Ability to prioritize -- you just simply cannot do it all. Find the two or three things that are important each day, week, month and focus on them.

Deb: Thanks for joining me today, Kathryn. Please share website and social media URLs.

Kathryn: I've enjoyed it, Deb. Here are my website and social media links.

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