Kim Trathen: “Lean on your mentors”

Lean on your mentors. We’ve all heard how lonely it is at the top, but the truth is, it can be just as lonely and isolating when you’re scaling your business. Having a really strong support system around you can be key to your success. Your friends and family may provide amazing personal support, but […]

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Lean on your mentors. We’ve all heard how lonely it is at the top, but the truth is, it can be just as lonely and isolating when you’re scaling your business. Having a really strong support system around you can be key to your success. Your friends and family may provide amazing personal support, but they likely haven’t scaled a business like you’re trying to do. Finding a coach that already achieved what you want to achieve, is completely different. Your coach will mentor you through the lows and guide you so you see success faster. A good coach will help you make the best decisions for your business.

I truly believe in the power of coaching, for myself and others. Just as you wouldn’t expect an athlete to train for the Olympics on their own, you shouldn’t expect an entrepreneur to grow and scale a business on their own. This is why investing in a coach was the first investment I made into my business. And it’s an investment I continue to make today. Because at every new level, we can always learn from those further along.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Trathen.

Kim Trathen is an international business coach for female entrepreneurs. Kim used her corporate experience in marketing to scale her own business to 6-figures during the pandemic. Now she’s a full-time entrepreneur, teaching women how to make more money by combining powerful marketing with simple sales and strong mindset. You can connect with kim at

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Sure! From outside appearances, I had a good life with a stable job in marketing, 3 boys and an amazing husband. I enjoyed the creative side of marketing but wasn’t passionate about what I was marketing. I was tired of the monotony of a job and the lather-rinse-repeat cycle I was caught in. You know the one — where you wake up, get everyone ready and out the door, just to make the mindless drive into work while you daydream about a different life. A life where you get more time with your kids, make more money doing something you love and make a bigger impact on the world.

But, I was pushing 40, my 3 boys were in multiple sports and I’d never run a business before. Being an entrepreneur felt more like a pipe dream than a plan.

But once the seed was planted, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I finally worked up the courage to tell my husband my dream. And, for the first time, I said the words out loud, “I want to start my own business.”

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I thought about starting a couple different types of businesses. But I didn’t want to spend my time growing a business I wasn’t passionate about. The whole reason I wanted out of corporate was to make more money doing something I loved.

I had lost a friend to an act of domestic violence several years earlier, so I was active in the domestic violence community and was incredibly passionate about supporting women.

As a former stats geek, I took a strategic approach. I made a Venn diagram with my skills on one side and my passions on the other. What business could I start that would combine my top skill (marketing) with my top passion (supporting women)? And in that moment, the idea for my coaching business was born!

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

A little of both. I had the entrepreneurial bug earlier on — I thought about launching an e-commerce business, a small boutique and even looked into purchasing a french fry cart. But I was scared. Scared to fail. Scared to lose a financial investment. Scared of what other people would think.

But then everything changed. I vividly remember lying in bed one night thinking about starting a business. Those thoughts and fears were circling in my mind. But then everything changed. I was no longer paralyzed by the fear of failing. Instead, I was more afraid that I’d be stuck in the exact same place in another 5 years. The fear of regret far outweighed my fear of failure!

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

I have to give a shout-out to my husband on this one. He believed in me from the moment I first uttered the words, “I want to start a business.” I smile when people call me a solopreneur because my husband was just as invested in this business as I was. He may not have been building my website and creating client programs, but he was solo-parenting our kids on the weekend when I’d leave to work on launching my business, he’d keep everyone happy (and quiet!) while I gave a live training, he’d catch up on laundry while I worked, and more. We were both invested in the growth of this business, we were just invested in different ways.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I was able to scale my own business to the 6-figure mark while raising kids, moving our family of 5, working in corporate and during the pandemic. A lot of women think they can’t grow a successful business because they view the time constraints of being a mom and having a job as too limiting. But, I’m a walking example of what’s possible for them. I can speak to their fears and stress on a level that not all coaches can. Because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I’ve walked in their shoes. I understand what they’re going through. And I know how to make it work.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Perseverance. Life is 50/50 and so is growing a business. There are times when we need to persevere through the struggles. My first full year in business included a lot of personal struggles. We had to put down our family dog, my dad passed away, my father-in-law was in ICU with a near-fatal heart event, we had over 12,000 dollars worth of unexpected home/car repairs and I ended the year being hospitalized for 5 days with internal bleeding. During that week, I had 3 blood transfusions, 2 iron infusions and more tests than I can even remember. It felt like with every “win” I had in business that year, it was offset by something incredibly stressful in my personal life. But I didn’t let it stop me. I persevered because I knew I wanted this business to succeed. Giving up was not an option.
  2. Managing my mind. As humans, we have a tendency to fool ourselves into thinking that what we’re working on right now is the ‘hard part’ and that things will get easier. I remember thinking that everything would run smoothly once I hired my first client, once I hit a 10k dollars month or scaled to 6-figures. But the truth is, at every new level, there are new fears and doubts that creep in. And, the more money you’re making, the more you’re at risk of losing. The stakes are higher. Understanding how to manage your mind can mean the difference between spinning in uncertainty or scaling to the next level. When the pandemic first hit, there was a general sense of fear. Everyone felt the uncertainty. I could have looked at that situation and told myself that no one would invest in coaching right now; that families were too strapped and too scared to invest in a coach. But, that’s not how I saw it. What I saw were that women around the world were more passionate than ever about getting their businesses launched and profitable. The jobs they had once viewed as “stable” income, suddenly felt less secure. And they realized the value in having time with their families. What I saw, was an opportunity to help more women than ever! And seeing that opportunity is exactly how I was able to scale to 6-figures during the pandemic.
  3. Open to getting help. There is a common misunderstanding that you should wait to hire a coach until you run into problems or get stuck. But, that’s like someone saying they can only work with a personal trainer once they are morbidly obese- it’s just not true. Investing in a mentor can help you scale faster, and avoid getting stuck. As I mentioned before, I was pushing 40 when I decided to launch my business. And I wasn’t going to waste time doing it! The first investment I made was with a coach. I wasn’t going to waste my time Googling things. Taking action will always grow your business faster than studying what actions to take! And hiring a mentor was the fastest way to learn and implement at the same time.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

There are a lot of people glorifying the hustle, especially when you’re starting your business. And I did it in the beginning because I didn’t know a better way. I would stay up until midnight and be back up at 4 am, so I could build my business before/after the kids went to bed. I even fell asleep while working on my laptop one time! I worked around the clock and I was exhausted. Deep down, I wore the “hustle” like a badge of honor. But the truth is, hustling leads to burnout and overwhelm. It isn’t something to be proud of and it definitely isn’t something that’s required to be successful.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Whether your business is at the point of hiring employees or you’re building a team of independent contractors, how you run your business will set the tone. For example, if you’re emailing your team at midnight, they may think you expect them to respond at midnight. Setting clear expectations, boundaries and open conversations will create a better culture (especially when everyone is remote!). So, the next time you’re working odd hours and tempted to send an email to your team, stop and schedule the email so it sends during regular work hours. This one small step can make a big difference in the standard you’re communicating to your team.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Leveraging social media is a great way to quickly build trust and credibility. It gives you a platform to connect with your ideal clients/customers, put your ideas into the world and start building connections. You have already had genius and thought leadership that’s ready to be put into this world, and social media is a way to get it out there.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Yes! If there is one thing everyone should be able to agree on after the pandemic, it’s the importance of the online space. While many brick and mortar businesses were scrambling to accommodate remote work for their employees, online business owners were like, “We got this. We’ve been doing this for years.” The world was already becoming more digital, but pandemic-life forced the people and businesses that were resisting the online trends to embrace what they once feared or didn’t understand. Now, most businesses deeply understand the importance of using the online space to connect with their employees and clients. And social media is a great tool to help you do this.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Trying to be everywhere online, all at once, can be the kiss of death. The number one complaint I hear from entrepreneurs is that they think social media is a waste of time. Truthfully, it can be. But it’s usually when you are trying to build an audience on too many platforms or you get sucked into scrolling the feed every time you hop onto social to post. You can avoid these mistakes by:

1). Choose two (2) platforms. Resist the urge to be everywhere immediately and choose two. Build your audience and create a really strong presence in these spaces first. Once you have a following built here, your content is converting and you see an ROI, you can consider adding a new platform.

2). Stop the scroll. Getting stuck scrolling your feed when you were supposed to post for your business is a giant waste of time. Sometimes, awareness is enough to break this bad habit. But, if it’s too tempting, then you may want to use a scheduling tool. That way, you aren’t actually opening up social media to post!

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Great questions! There are two main reasons entrepreneurs experience more drastic highs and lows than someone working as an employee:

1). It’s personal. As an employee, you are acutely aware that your employment could be temporary. You could find a new job or you could get let go. There is a separation between who you are and what you do. But, most entrepreneurs don’t feel this separation. We are so engrained in our businesses that it becomes part of our identity. It’s easy to start making business wins/fails mean something about you as a person. Seeing that a strategy worked or didn’t work is neutral. But, thinking “I succeeded” or “I failed” is personal and triggers a strong emotional response. These emotions we feel — the positive and negative — are the highs and lows we experience as an entrepreneur.

2). The sense of responsibility is greater. Regardless if you have employees or not, the sense of responsibility to be financially successful is greater. At a job, many employees know that if they take the day off or sit and talk with a coworker for a while, they still get paid. But, entrepreneurs know that time is money. And if you don’t get something done, it doesn’t get done. There isn’t someone else there to help you out. You carry the burden of creating profit.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

I’ve experienced a lot of highs along the way. I vividly remember signing my first client, having my first client hit 10k dollars/month and scaling to 100k dollars. Every new milestone in business is exhilarating!

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Yes, this is so important to talk about. I’ve experienced the lows as well. And it usually piggy-backed off a high month (emotionally and financially). So, for example, when I hit my first 15k dollars month, it was followed by a period of low sales. But, the low sales weren’t actually the problem. The problem was what I made those low sales mean about myself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of tying our self-worth to our profits. So, seeing a lower month in business can create doubts in your mind. You start to question if you’re on the right track and if you can really be successful. And thoughts like these can be a fast path feeling anxious.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

I dove deep to figure this out. Why was I feeling low, what caused it and what can I do about it? This is how I realized that I was making my low sales mean I wasn’t a successful entrepreneur. Next, I needed to change my thoughts around this. For example, instead of letting myself think “If I don’t make enough money, I’m not successful” I chose to focus on new thoughts like, “I am an amazing coach that gets amazing results for my clients.” It was important for me to define success in a new way that didn’t tie it to the amount of sales I had that month.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Plan to Fail. Failure in your business does not mean that you failed as a person. It means you put yourself out there and tried something new. Failure means you tested the market and you found out what works and what doesn’t work. And the more you put yourself out there, of course, you’ll see more fails! But you’ll also see more successes. Our tendency as humans is to resist failing because it makes us feel bad and we worry about what other people will think of us. I see this all the time with women I coach. When they come to me they are frustrated their business hasn’t grown, but they’re trying to do things the “safe” way. They aren’t saying what needs to be said or putting themselves out there to try new things. Reframing what a failure really means is key. And once they do this, they see so much more success in their businesses! 
    Because when you plan to fail, you know it doesn’t mean anything about you as a person.

So, I challenge you, look at last month. How many times did you try something new, how many times did you put yourself out there and how many fails did you have? Now, how many more failures can you strive for next month?

2. Drop the “yeah but’s.” The majority of the lows we sit in as entrepreneurs are created in our own minds. It’s negative thoughts or drama we keep thinking about. It’s when you look at another entrepreneur’s success that you want to emulate, but your brain offers you up thoughts like:

“Yeah but, they have a bigger audience.”

“Yeah but, my kids are so little.”

“Yeah but, my clients can’t afford me right now.”

The truth is, hearing “yeah but” is just your brains way of offering up evidence to support the doubts and fears that want to hold you back.

I could have listened to the “yeah but’s” so many times early on in my business. I could have said:

“Yeah but, I’m still in corporate.” 
“Yeah but, we’re moving our family of 5.”
“Yeah but, there’s a pandemic right now.”

I could have told myself all of those things, but I didn’t. I removed the “yeah but’s” from my vocabulary and, instead, I focused on how I was going to make my business profitable in the time I had available.

3. Lean on your mentors. We’ve all heard how lonely it is at the top, but the truth is, it can be just as lonely and isolating when you’re scaling your business. Having a really strong support system around you can be key to your success. Your friends and family may provide amazing personal support, but they likely haven’t scaled a business like you’re trying to do. Finding a coach that already achieved what you want to achieve, is completely different. Your coach will mentor you through the lows and guide you so you see success faster. A good coach will help you make the best decisions for your business.

I truly believe in the power of coaching, for myself and others. Just as you wouldn’t expect an athlete to train for the Olympics on their own, you shouldn’t expect an entrepreneur to grow and scale a business on their own. This is why investing in a coach was the first investment I made into my business. And it’s an investment I continue to make today. Because at every new level, we can always learn from those further along.

4. Is it true, or is it false? A lot of lows we experience as entrepreneurs are created in our own minds. Figuring out if it’s true or false is crucial, and a lot of people get this wrong. Think of true statements as things that are provable in a court of law, and the “false” statements are just what we think about them (which we can change). I love sharing this practical example with my clients because it’s something a lot of people can relate to.

Let’s say there are two people with the same weight loss goal. When they wake up, they look out their windows and see that it’s 60 degrees, gray and cloudy outside. One person thinks, “Wow! This is great. I’m so glad it’s not raining out!” That day, she takes her kids for a hike, walks the dog and does some yard work. But when the other person looks out their window, they think, “Ugh. This is terrible. I hate the gray days. I wish it was sunny.” This person spends the day binge-watching their favorite show and eating popcorn. Both people have the same goal and the same weather, but they took very different actions. So, what was true and what was false? The true fact is that it was 60 degrees outside (provable in a court of law). Whether or not they thought it was a nice day was nothing more than their thought about the weather; which led to the actions they took. And, based on the actions they took, it’s pretty clear which person is going to hit their goal first!

This applies to your business and even the pandemic too. When the pandemic hit, a lot of entrepreneurs stopped selling or thought their clients couldn’t afford to work with them. But, the reason my business and my clients continued to scale during the pandemic is because we saw how serving our clients was best for them. We chose to believe, “My clients need me more now than ever.”

So, when you’re worried about something, start by sorting out what is a true fact and what are just your thoughts about it. Then shift the thoughts that don’t help you hit your goals.

5. Know your numbers. This actually ties into the last tip, is it true or is it false! Oftentimes, when entrepreneurs have a lower month in sales, they mentally freak out. They wonder where are the clients or customers are and why they aren’t making as many sales. But, you need to deal with the facts first; you need to know your numbers. Don’t guess at this, but actually calculate it.

> How much do you have in cash reserves?

> Could you run your business leaner?

> If something were to happen to you, how long could your business survive if you weren’t working in it every day.

When you know those numbers, you have the facts. You know what is true and what is false about those numbers you’re working with.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is not giving up when that might feel like the easiest thing to do. It’s serving clients when you have a personal struggle or understanding how you can best serve clients when it feels like the rest of the world is freaking out. It’s evaluating, and instead of letting a perceived failure or roadblock stop you, you figure out what you’ll do differently next time. It’s not taking “no” at face value. It’s diving deeper, staying curious and when you think something is a certain way, you question how the opposite can be true.

I’ve had so many women tell me they can’t scale to 6-figures because they’re working and have kids. When you believe that to be true, that’s exactly what will happen for you. But, I did it. And so do a lot of other women. Instead of telling myself, I couldn’t be a 6-figure entrepreneur while working in corporate and raising our kids, I asked myself HOW I could scale my business while working in corporate. This flip from “I can’t” to “How can I” gives you a change in perspective and puts you in control of the situation. It challenges you to get creative and find a solution.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Going through all of those personal struggles my first year in business (when my dad passed away, my father-in-law was in ICU and I ended the year hospitalized with internal bleeding) taught me a lot about building resiliency. I had to juggle the ‘normal’ highs and lows of launching a business while navigating hospital visits, coordinating end-of-life care for my dad, grief, and then learning how to prioritize my own health and recovery after being hospitalized. We can’t control what happens in life, but we can control what we think about those things. And that’s the key to hitting all of our goals, both personally and professionally. It’s giving yourself grace while not giving up.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Yes, I’m a naturally upbeat, positive person. But learning how to manage my thoughts about situations is the key! It’s understanding that bad things do happen, and we can’t control that. But, what we can control is how we think about the situation. And the thoughts we choose create a dominate effect leading to our results. So, I choose my thoughts carefully and strategically.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Our attitude and outlook affect everyone we’re around. So, if we react more often to situations than taking a moment to intentionally respond, it fosters a feeling of uncertainty within your team or clients. They may wonder how you’ll respond to something that happens. But, when your team sees that you choose your thoughts carefully and focus on the thoughts that create the best impact or change, you are training them how to do this too. We are always leading by example.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

My favorite quote I have hanging in my office is one I share with all my clients. So many entrepreneurs get caught up in wondering how they’ll hit their goals. I originally heard Brooke Castillo talk about this on her podcast and it resonated with me so deeply. “It’s not my job to know HOW the clients will come, my only job is to show up and believe it’s possible.”

How can our readers further follow you online?

They can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok using @kimthebusinesscoach and they can learn more at

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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