Kate Toon is an award-winning misfit entrepreneur, who works with small businesses and big brands to transform their online presence: through powerful SEO, captivating content and all the right digital marketing moves. Kate’s helped more than 10,000 other businesses demystify digital marketing, grapple the Google Beast, and grow their success.
An online business success story. A Google Beast tamer. A straight-talking marketing coach, and a popular educator, speaker, author and podcaster, Kate’s a misfit on a mission: to help other business humans create their own version of success. With more than 20,000 people in her online communities, Kate’s built a reputation as a business leader who is accessible, relatable and valuable: she’s full of inspired insights and real-world know-how.
Kate has extensive experience in the media and as a speaker on all things digital marketing, business success and personal branding, having presented at events around Australia and the world. As a speaker, she’s smart, savvy, engaging and enlightening.
Kate runs Australia’s only dedicated copywriting conference, CopyCon, and was named Businesswoman of the Year and Training & Education Provider of the Year at the national My Business Awards.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Kate Toon: My company helps make the complex world of Digital marketing simple. Providing education, support and coaching to small businesses who need to navigate the worlds of SEO, copywriting, and general marketing in an honest human way.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Kate Toon: I grew up wanting to be a teacher, and then a writer. Dabbled in events and marketing before embracing the internet, way back in 1998 ish, my first job was to work on the build of Marks and Spencers first eCommerce website. I worked in various digital advertising agencies after that, Ogivly, AKQA, MercerBell, before jumping ship in 2009 as I got pregnant.
I started my own eponymous business katetoon.com with the goal of doing ‘something’ i didn’t know what. After several years a successful copywriter, niching in SEO I eventually moved into teaching SEO and copy, through live workshops, then a course and now memberships, podcasts and conference.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Kate Toon: I’m still essentially a solopreneur, I have no employees and work alone in a little hut in my back garden with my CFO – Chief Furry Officer. I have a team of subcontractors and suppliers helping me, and this model works well for me.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Kate Toon: I wrote a book about this. The Misfit Entrepreneur.
Quite simply it’s a business owner who takes risks, which essentially means we are all entrepreneurs! For me, the spirit of an entrepreneur is about being creative and being adventurous, and trying new things. Your bog-standard business owner often gets stuck in a rut, doing just enough to keep going. An entrepreneur is always looking for ways to improve, grow, innovate, through people, processes, products, and pushing themselves.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Kate Toon: Hugely. I started out in the very male-dominated world of SEO – back then 12 or so years ago, I was often the only female SEO type in the room or Google plus group. ANd it was difficult. I was patronized, mansplained and belittled. Now the SEO world is much more inclusive. I also think it’s important for entrepreneurs to be part of the solution. I want my conferences speakers and podcast guests to reflect my audience. I work hard to build safe spaces that encourage community over competition through my Facebook groups and memberships. I show my vulnerabilities to help others share theirs.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Kate Toon: I’m not 100% sure what this question means. Do we need more disruption or more inclusion and calm?
I think that often entrepreneurs are disruptive for the sake of disruption, in that it has no real substance behind it, they want to be on-trend or part of the discussion.
For me sticking with my core values and being true to my own odd personality means I’ll always be a little disruptive, but it’s not artifice or a marketing strategy. it’s just who I am
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Kate Toon: I spent my day writing funny things on Facebook.
Nah seriously, I help people understand difficult things, and help them feel confident about what they do. Or alternatively, I help people get found on the Google and make more money!
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Kate Toon: Honestly I struggle with this one. Nothing popped out immediately, I guess because nothing super dramatic has ever happened in my business, it’s been a slow comfy burn, no major dramas, not hideous mistakes, a gentle arc of decisions not random u-turns.
I think the biggest change is my move towards extracting myself from the day to day. As a past project manager, that’s hard, but now I play more of a creative director role.
I’m the talent, the moneymaker, the booty shaker. I bring the customers in and they facilitate them and ease them into the right product or service. Well as much as possible because I do still like to maintain a close relationship with my humans.
This has required my team to step up, self motivate, have more confidence in their decision-making, take the initiative and occasionally tell me to go away and stop meddling.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Kate Toon: Hula hooping.
I remember when I joined LinkedIn, everyone had job titles that were in three lumps CEO. Expert. Podcaster.
Back then I could only think of two. Copywriter. SEO. So I added Hula Hooper as my third. I wasn’t actually any good then, but I’ve since learned so that I’m not a fraud!
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Kate Toon: I wrote it.
It’s called The Misfit Entrepreneur. How to succeed in business despite yourself.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kate Toon for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kate Toon or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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