71: Kate Toon on How to Make Serious Money in Business Without Taking Yourself Too Seriously

The Queen of SEO and Australian Business Women of the Year, Kate Toon shares how to make serious money in business without taking yourself too seriously.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How Kate took her business from $50000 in debt to a profitable 7 figure business!
  • Why you don't have to have a degree in business from Harvard University to be uber-successful & make a lot of money
  • Knowing your numbers is the key to freedom from stress, comparisonitis and imposter syndrome in business
  • How to develop a relationship with your business
  • The mistakes Kate made and how to avoid them

You can listen to the episode above or read the unedited transcript below.


Meaghan Smith  00:20

Hello beautiful people and welcome to another episode of the Money Mindful Podcast. I am your host Meaghan Jean Smith. I am a money mindset and life coach for women. I help women get out of self doubt overwhelm and scarcity mindset so they can live the extraordinary life they want to live on purpose. My guest today is an extraordinary business woman. She is the queen of SEO Australian businesswoman of the year international digital marketing mentor, author podcaster course creator. Oh I need to take a breath SEO and copy mentor and an all round top chick Kate tune. I am absolutely thrilled to have you here today on the show. Welcome.

Kate Toon  01:10

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. We've we were talking before the show that we've been following each other for ages and trying to do this podcast for ages. So I'm excited that we're doing it her Ah,

Meaghan Smith  01:19

yay. Can I just ask, I don't mean this in a cheeky way. But is there anything you don't do? I think you're a bit of an overachiever. Now come on.

Kate Toon  01:29

I am obviously I am an overachiever. I think I've done all the things but I didn't do them all at the same time. So it looks impressive now, but it's like they all happened one by one over a long period of time. 12 years into my business. So it's not like I did it all yesterday. It's not quite as impressive as it sounds.

Meaghan Smith  01:46

All right, well give us the. Give us the blurb of Kate toon, who you are. And also tell us a little bit about SEO, because I'm pretty sure there's a few people who are going to be listening going, what the EFF is that? What are we talking about? Yeah. Tell us who you are, what you do tell us all the things.

Kate Toon  02:06

Yeah, so I mean, my business started out very differently to what it is now. So about 12 years ago, I went out on my own. And I marketed myself as a freelance copywriter. And I worked as a freelance copywriter for about five or six years. And my area was SEO, Search Engine Optimization, which really just means getting your website found on the Google. We don't really talk about being and DuckDuckGo and Yahoo, because they don't really have much market share. So trying to connect your content with your audience, but also making sure it ticks Google's boxes as well. And there's, we could talk about that all day. There's a lot to it. You know, there's technical aspects is the words that use on the page, there's building links from other sites. But at the end of the day, the reason why I chose that topic was it was a bit of a gap in the market. So I knew how to do it. It was how I'd got my business profile so high. And people started to say, Well, how come whenever I type in anything to do with copywriter, you're ranking number one, and I'm like, aha, I could tell people how to do this and make my millions, but also the word. There were no women in the space at all. At that point. It was one lady in Australia called Heather Smith. A couple of American No, sorry, she's in America, a couple of other Americans, no one in Australia. So as a woman, I thought that was a great space. Because the male SEO groups were very intimidating. They're a little bit belittling. So I thought all I could be the go to person as a woman. So then as a woman, so I kicked off and now you know, my business has got three bits. It's really the recipe for SEO success, where I teach people how to rank on Google. It's got courses resources, a podcast, the clever copywriting school where I teach copywriters, how to be better copywriters as courses and membership, a job board and a conference, a shop, you name it, and a podcast. And then the main thrust, the main thrust of my business now is the digital master chef's, which is my kind of mentor group where I teach people how to use digital marketing, to make more money in their business, you know, what to do, what not to do, what to focus on, and a bit of a process. So yeah, so all, but I never.

Meaghan Smith  04:15

Yeah, it is a lot. And we're definitely gonna circle back to this because we definitely want to find out how to make more money in our business. Okay, so let's just put that as a note aside, but first of all, Can Can you just give us a time frame? Like how long like when you're talking when you got this going? I mean, have you been in business? And it doesn't seem like you've been in business for five minutes. But can you give us a little picture of how far back we're talking?

Kate Toon  04:39

Yeah, so I started my business in when I was pregnant, five months pregnant, because I was working in an ad agency and I was a contractor. So there's going to be no maternity leave. And I knew that, you know, I wanted to take some time off to be with my son. My husband didn't have a job. At that point. He just started his own business teaching French, you have one student, so I was the breadwinner so I started it when I was five months pregnant. And I know that was about 12 years ago, because my son is nearly 12. There you go. I'm really good at maths. And so those first couple of years were horrific. And then I had about, I did the copywriting for about five years. Then I launched the recipe course, very small, very little steps about five, six or five years ago. And I launched clever copywriting school the same year. And coincidentally, it was when my son went to school, big change in your life when your kid goes to school. So I launched both those products, then they were small, there wasn't much to them. And then over the last five years, I've just grown them, the digital master chefs I launched two years ago. And that one has grown, like super quickly, like the clever copywriting has taken a long time to get to like 400 or so members, digital master chefs has only been around for a couple of years. And that's got 200 300 members really quickly. So I think I've got slightly better at doing what I do. But overall, it's 12 years since I started.

Meaghan Smith  06:00

Okay, I think that's really good to make note, because I think so often we hear about women having this amazing success, and then we use that as a way to make ourselves feel bad, or we use it against ourselves. So I am glad we just recovered that anyone listening, starting a business unless you're 12 years in, get over it, it's okay, you're doing, you're doing

Kate Toon  06:24

important, it's really important. I'm glad that you highlighted that. The other thing I think it's really important to highlight is, you know, not all business women have the same adventure. So you know, I spoke at an event recently, and there were three other like entrepreneur types on stage. And they were talking about their success, which had happened in like, two, three years. But then all three of them said that they hadn't taken a salary for the first three years, because their husbands had supported them. And I'm like, well, therefore, for the first three years, your business didn't really make any enough money to pay you a salary. That's Wow, I'd love to have a husband who supported me. And unfortunately, I don't quite the opposite. I supported him. So that's a real thing as well. People don't talk about that. Like, how much money do you need to earn? How much money are you? Do? You know? I mean, I think that's a real issue. That's not very transparent as well.

Meaghan Smith  07:09

Yeah. Well, I want to go back to that initial stage when you said you were five months pregnant. And, look, it doesn't surprise me that you started the business then because I i, this is just my opinion, but I seem to this seems to be a common theme with women. They have children. And then this big life transition happens. I mean, not only physically and we're made a human in the world, but also just in our own life. Like suddenly it's like, No, I'm gonna do life differently. But with your husband not even working and you are pregnant, that's pretty ballsy. It did you have any? Like, were you going down some personal development thing? Or were you just like,

Kate Toon  07:54

hardcore, desperate, pure desperation, no savings, renting a tiny one bedroom house, were so my son was just like, you know, you know, a cart in the corner, we were poor. And there was no self discovery, I just knew I wouldn't get maternity leave, because I'm a contractor. And I had no savings at all. So I had to start earning money as quickly as possible. So you know, those first couple of months when I was pregnant, it was relatively easy, because there was no baby and you know, a bit uncomfortable, but it was doable. When he was first born, it was really, really hard. And that first year, there is no glamour to that first year, it was just a real struggle, a lot of mom guilt. You know, my parents aren't here, no friends who had babies, I was just me and the baby on my own trying to work with one hand while breastfeeding with the other. You know, it was miserable. And I don't, I don't like to put any gloss on that. Because I can look back now and go. Remember what it wasn't cute. It was just really hard. But you know that first year, I think I probably made about 60k, which obviously was nowhere near what I was earning as a I was running an ad agency as a contractor with a mazing day rate. But it was enough, you know, it was enough to get by. And then it's slowly slowly improved over time.

Meaghan Smith  09:11

Good on you. That is I find that so inspiring. Like chills inspiring, because that is phenomenal hardcore, like I had. I've had kids not that long ago, right? Like my youngest is only four. And I have spoken with lots of women now who have built businesses when they've had really young kids. And to be honest, I did. I didn't feel capable of doing that. Like I didn't feel like I had the mental capacity to do that when I had babies and so when I hear other women have done it, I'm just I'm frankly in awe it's it's pretty amazing.

Kate Toon  09:49

Yeah, I mean, it wasn't very good again, let's be honest, I don't think I was amazing. I don't think I was firing all cylinders. I was I was doing bits and bobs. I did a bit of graphic design which was appalling. I've built some websites, I did bits of copy, I had a few lucky breaks, as well, where I was able to connect people and get like a referral payment, like a 10% referral payment. And that was a real lucky break. But yeah, you know, I don't think I was doing my best work. And I don't think that was true of the second year or the third year either. But I tried, it was in perfect action, you know, and all I cared about in that first year, didn't care about having a brand didn't care about having a really pretty desk with Kiki Kay furniture on it didn't take photos and share them on social media. I just worked, you know, bam, head down, bum up to make money and that I was in that kind of emu stage for the first four years, there was no kind of how do I want to position myself and how do I want to, and I'm gonna have a photo shoot with confetti, it was like not, I'm just gonna work, work, work, work, work, work work. You know, so it wasn't glamorous at all.

Meaghan Smith  10:59

Yeah, but you know, that's, that's what it takes? Sometimes.

Kate Toon  11:03

It is. It is it is. And I, you know, I didn't do any personal development, I didn't do any courses, I didn't go to any events. Because I didn't have the money. It was a luxury to me, you know. So again, that was a different approach. Because, you know, I'm sure I know, you talk about this on the podcast, a lot of people spend a lot of money when they start their business on things, they don't really need to, which means they have to make more money. And it's like, if you just don't spend great way of making money is not to spend it, you know, I know that and you've got to invest in yourself, of course, but not necessarily on day one, you know, you can get quite a long way under your own steam without paying a mentor, or buying a book or doing a course you can get quite a long way without going external. And you don't need to do that on day.so.

Meaghan Smith  11:48

What do you do you think your mindset was? survival?

Kate Toon  11:53

Yes, yes. Okay, survival of money. And, and I, you know, I'm lucky to a degree that I had worked in agencies, so I knew a few things. But being an employee to being having your own business is entirely different. So things like money management, and marketing, because I've never had to market myself, I just turned up into the job. So you know, that I didn't have at the first stage. And, you know, I'm sure we'll talk about that today. My financial management was wretched in those early days, and I got into huge debt with the tax office, because I was trying to do it all myself, and I didn't know what I was doing. And so it's not like, I didn't make mistakes in those first four years, either. I made a lot of mistakes.

Meaghan Smith  12:32

Yeah, but that's how you learn, unfortunately, sometimes we have to learn the hard way the tax department can be kind of mean. They,

Kate Toon  12:45

they can but you know, again, I think it's one of those things where we think, Oh, it's really complicated, really hard, I'll give it to an accountant. And they'll just take care of it, which is just really irresponsible. When at the end of the day, if the account messes up, it's really you that will pay the price, not the accountant, you know, so I just, I just didn't pay attention. And, you know, my, my income started to increase, but I didn't save any more for my tax. And then at the end of the year, you know, things like GST, and everything all hit, and I just didn't have the money. And it was about $50,000 in debt that I got at that stage. So that was fun.

Meaghan Smith  13:23

Right, okay, so you let's talk let's, let's fast track to the future now. So what's changed?

Kate Toon  13:32

In terms of money or in business?

Meaghan Smith  13:34

Yeah, in terms of money management?

Kate Toon  13:38

Oh, I mean, I think, you know, when you have a shock like that, then you you know, it's unfortunately, as we said, You sometimes don't fix things until they break. So after that, you know, I, me and my buddy, he got into that as well. And we both worked very, very hard to pay all that off, we managed to pay it all off in a couple of years. And then after that, I, you know, I really took control of my money, I still find it challenging. I've had to do a lot of self education around money. And I don't think I have money blocks necessarily, you know, people talk a lot about money mindset. I don't think I have issues with that. When we talk, you might say that I do, but I had, I didn't know the language and I didn't understand it, and I kind of dismissed it. So you know, even just basic stuff, like getting my Xero properly set up because I set it up myself and I didn't set it up correctly, you know, really understanding the tax brackets, you know, really understanding when is a good time to set up a company rather than being a solopreneur implementing profit first. And, you know, having separate accounts for different parts of my business saving, using my offset account, you know, just all this stuff to now where, you know, I might do want me to talk about now I don't know.

Meaghan Smith  14:45

Yeah, let's do it.

Kate Toon  14:47

Yeah. So now you know, I'm at the stage now where I have no debt. I don't have a mortgage. I just paid my mortgage off last year. And I have a lot a fair amount of money in the company sitting there with I can't draw down because I get taxed on it. And I've been able to buy a property through my family trusts. So that's another way of constructing your business. And obviously, I don't own it outright, but that's an in my investment property that's, you know, planning for the future. And finally paying myself, you know, a couple years ago, I started paying myself proper salary paying my super. And then next the challenge for me for this year is to try and get my head around, you know, EF T's share market and, you know, move towards not necessarily that I'm going to do it all, but I want to understand it all. And so that's my project for this year is to not just go Oh, shares that you hard, I can't do that. You know, maybe I can, maybe I won't, but maybe I can. So that's my plan for this year.

Meaghan Smith  15:44

I'll tell you right now, it's not too hard. We can have a chat later.

Kate Toon  15:50

It's totally not. But it's like when I talk about SEO people like, it's like, we set these things up as things that we can't do in our minds. And it's nonsense, because we're capable of anything, we just break it down into little chunks. And it's fun. I actually wrote the Comsec  website, Commonwealth banks share website, I wrote the whole thing, didn't absorb any of it. So you know, I know that it's in there somewhere. It's just I haven't unlocked that little valve yet. And when I do, it will all come gushing out at some point, and I'll work it what out?

Meaghan Smith  16:18

Wow. Okay. Let me ask you about this then. Because you just illustrated right them what a money block is, right? I mean, I don't really use that terminology. But it's, it's when we don't even realise we have barriers. We just don't even have the awareness that it's something is a barrier to us, because of the way we think. I mean, it's not a true barrier really, for you, because you're looking at your you're already curious, you know, like thinking about investigating shares. But for some people, things like shares or starting a business or anything like that, it's totally, it's totally shut down for them. Because they're just like, No, that's too hard. starting something new financially is often a block for people, because they just literally have a thought in their mind that I don't know how to do that. Or that's too complicated. And I know this sounds so simple, but it really is just a thought. Like, it's just a thought none of us knew how to do anything before we started doing it. And I might have mentioned this on the podcast before, but I think it's worth saying, Can you imagine a kid like a baby got taking a few steps and going on, and I had to do this.

Kate Toon  17:35

I thought I think you know, I should start using the term SEO blocks. Because I see the exact same thing there. People just decide that they can't do it's not for them. It's someone else's remit. It's not for them. And it just takes a good teacher, someone to break it down the right resources, some support, and a little bit of bravery. You know, and you know, often we talk about being entrepreneurs, and really being an entrepreneur, all that really means is that you take a risk in business, and everything in business is risk. Money is a risk learning something is a risk. But you know, through risk and being brave is how we grow and become better. And you know, as you said, If I, if I when I started my business met me now, I think I'd almost be intimidated by what I've managed to do and think, wow, I could never do that. And yet, I'm the same person. You know, it's me, I did it. And it took me a while it took me by degrees. When I started to earn really good money, I didn't do anything with it at all. At first, I just sat with it. And I didn't want to take immediate action. I wanted to sit with that new experience of not being poor. And just let that sit with me for a bit took me a good two years to then go. Okay, I've not been poor for a while now. And all I'm doing is replacing perfectly good cushions with new cushions. Maybe I could do something better than just swapping cushions. Maybe I could do something bigger. Maybe I am capable of that. So yeah, it's a journey.

Meaghan Smith  18:55

That's actually really amazing. Because a lot of people who make money, the first thing they do is they spend it because they you know hear that stuff about lottery winners or whatever. But it's literally not being used to having the capacity to have that much money. We're used to having the capacity to have a certain amount of money, a certain amount of money. And then if we get more money, it's like okay, spend spend spend. I mean, I just find that so fascinating. But that's really interesting that you You didn't spend it, you actually got to know it

Kate Toon  19:29

a little bit. I think it's also because I didn't believe it. And I was I was I was worried that it wouldn't continue. You know, because my business is unpredictable to a degree because I don't buy ads, everything that I earn I earn through organic content marketing, so I can't go if I spend $5. Today, you know, I'll get this much return. You know, this is the other myth of entrepreneurs and where people say, Oh, I had a $200,000 launch, and then you find out they spent $180,000 on Facebook ads. That's not me. I didn't spend anything on ads. So you know, my But then that's also a risk because I can't quantify exactly what my conversion is going to be. So I also wanted to sit with it for a while and see if it was going to continue. And now I can see that it will and I do much more around forecasting and planning. And looking at months that aren't good and thinking of products, I could launch in those months, so that the income is consistent. I mean, I moved from a course launch model, why, and you know, on three days of the year, I learned 90% of my income, which is very nerve racking. And now I have two memberships. So that that recurring income is coming in every month. So I have this kind of level that I have. And I also really deeply got to understand what it costs to run my business, how much money do I have to earn before I actually earn any money? And that's another thing I think people don't think about as well.

Meaghan Smith  20:48

Yeah, that's huge, actually, knowing what you need to charge as well to feed the business. Because the business is an entity in a sense, and you need to like if you think of money coming in as fuel that keeps the business alive. And I think that's something that gets overlooked. Even for myself, you know, I'm new, relatively new in starting a new business now. And these are things that I have worked out along the way, you know, really by trial and error, and that's what that's what business is, you just try it out. And sometimes stuff works. And then other times you realise, Oh, hang on. Now we need to change this. This doesn't work. But you, you learn from doing in my opinion, but I'm really curious, because you, you said on your website that you work between school hours, which is kind of like the mecca for moms everywhere. It certainly was, for me, that was this Pinnacle. I wanted to reach to be able to earn money on my terms, but when my children are at school, because that's massive, like that's just so valuable to mums. And dads as well, I don't want to, but what would you say to a mom listening now? Because I know I have a lot of listeners who are aspiring entrepreneurs who want to do things like this. What would you say are some of the first things to to focus on when starting a business that the actual important stuff?

Kate Toon  22:22

Yeah, I mean, I think, again, that's people get very excited about the fluff of starting a business, you know that the non essentials, really, you can start a business with a laptop and a mouse, you don't need any thing else at all, you know, you don't even need a desk, you can just do it on your kitchen table. So you know, anything that you're buying that you think, Oh, this would be nice, you know, try not to buy it, I'd say I know that sounds really negative. But you know, for the first year, it's an experiment. And the fastest thing you want to be able to do is pay yourself a salary. So the quicker you can get to that the better. And most people ruin that by wasting money on other things like, do you really need that course? Do you need to be in that master mind? Do you need that book? Do you need to go to that event? No, you really, really don't, you know, unless you literally have no ideas of your own. And then I suspect you're probably not an ideally suited person, start your own business, because most of us are starting our own business. Because we have a fire in our belly and an idea of what we want to do. And yeah, we might need some help along the way to point us in the right direction. But fundamentally, we know roughly where we're going in this direction. So I think that's really, really important. In terms of the school hour thing, look, I need to be transparent there. That wasn't always the case. There have been especially when I set up recipe. I was servicing copywriting clients and trying to build something, there were a lot, not necessarily late nights, because I'm not good. After three o'clock. There are a lot of early mornings, there was a lot of swearing at my computer, there was a lot of uploading videos that were due to go live at 10 at 955. And there was a lot of imperfect action, like the first time I launched my course, that it was only $400 I'll be honest, it was pretty rubbish. It was it wasn't rubbish, but it was okay. You know what I mean? Now, it's like over 2000. And it's way better. But it's taken me a long time to do that. So there were late nights, I think in terms of first steps in action, you know, you're gonna love this, but get a decent accounting platform. From the day one, if you can't a port forward, spend $50 a month on Xero, your business has a problem, that'd be the first $50 I'd be spending even before I paid myself, you know, get a good accounting platform, get a good accountant as well get a bookkeeper set up your Xero, and then every $100 that comes in gets dispersed in the right way. I'd also highly recommend starting profit first from the day dot like people I go, I need to earn a certain amount of money before I start now you don't can do profit first if you've got $10 but you know, it makes you understand what money is yours. And another final point, there's something that you said, I think it's very hard to separate your business from yourself and your business money from your own money. So a real step forward for me was when I started a company and then I started to realise that the businesses is an entity to your point, and that the money in that like it flowing out, it's not directly tied to me it's a separate beast. And on the flip of that, because I did profit first I was over saving for things like my GST and my tax and at the end of the other people's lump of money. And it'd be like, well, whose money is that? Was? It's my money. It's like, yeah, it's all my money, cuz it's my business. I don't have to take it. Now. I can sit there. But I kind of didn't even think of that as my money. Weird. I don't know. It's messy, isn't it money? Well, it's,

Meaghan Smith  25:30

it's when you when you're in business, it's a new way of looking at things. And I want to second what you've just said about the whole accounting thing. I have an a bookkeeper already and have Xero and all of that stuff set up. And I think I absolutely agree, don't wait to do that stuff in your second, third, fourth year, when it's so messy. you've, you've stuffed it all up. And because you don't know what you're doing, and you're making mistakes all over the place. And even for someone, I'm not an accountant, I'm self taught. But I do know a lot about money and money management, like that side of things, but just because I'm interested in it, but I'm not a trained accountant. And I don't have those skills. And when I was working with my bookkeeper, she was sort of pointing things out to me, like, you know that that's not tax compliant. And I'm like, No, I did not know that that's not tax compliant. Thanks for pointing that out. Let's get that sorted straightaway. So they're the kind of things that I think also set you up in the mindset that this is a legit business.

Kate Toon  26:47

It's so important. I mean, the money I've spent on undoing the mistakes that I made in my business and my Xero and, you know, the dreaded fear of being audited. Now I have the most anal bookkeeper in the world, I love her. And, you know, she goes through every single thing. And now you know, I've got a company and I've got a family trust is complicated. As your business gets bigger, it gets complicated. There are salaries, there's dividends, there's all these other parts that you know, you have to learn this new language. And you need someone to help you with that. Like we're not all born out of an egg, knowing how to handle money. Just as in my world, people don't understand digital marketing. And they're like, well, I don't understand what to do with clubhouse on LinkedIn, it's like, to me that comes easy as easy peasy. Money is a bit harder. So while I said, you know, don't spend money on courses and things in your first year, I think you're better off or getting some really good professional advice from people you trust and getting things set up well, and if there's one thing you do in your business is get the financial setup. Well, from day one, everything else can flow, you can mess up on Instagram, you can be appalling on LinkedIn, but you can't be appalling on your tax return. can't mess around with the Australian Taxation rules. You know, that is something you can't mess up on messing up on Instagram is fine. You know, so I just think people get the often get those the wrong way around. And they're desperately worried about having a pretty Instagram feed, where they haven't paid themselves a salary for six months. It's like priorities people.

Meaghan Smith  28:11

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I'm curious, because you're still living to tell the story. You're you have a successful business now. And you've already revealed that you've made heaps of mistakes, and you're still alive.

Kate Toon  28:27

I'm still here. Yeah. And that this is it, there's been home years where the, you know, the word of the year has been recover, or, you know, just continue. And this year, as you continue this year, I'm trying to earn slightly less than I earned last year, because I want to work a lot less. So I'm trying to see if by working a lot less Can I make either the same, or and be comfortable with earning slightly less, because also, there's this horrible drive, and it happened, it was very much in the males zone of entrepreneurs. And that slipped into the female zone, that you are not a legitimate human unless you're making seven figures a year, which is utter nonsense. And so I'm out there trying to spread the message of that that's nonsense. And we're going to drive ourselves into burnout and depression, if we put that on our backs as well, because we've already got to be perfect mums, great lovers, we've got to be thin, we've got to have nice hair we've got man. So I'm kind of trying to dismiss that seven figure thing and be the, and be an example of that, you know, and come back down off the mountain because for me now in my life, over things are more important than the number of zeros at the end of my bank account. You know, I mean, I don't want to be poor. I've been poor. There's nothing glamorous about being poor. But I don't want to just aspire to wealth for the sake of wealth. You know, which I think is kind of the message that's been pushed a little bit now on social media and stuff.

Meaghan Smith  29:48

Well, I think what you're highlighting there is a different set of skills. It's you've got your business to I'm assuming you've got your business to seven figures if you're talking in that realm. Okay. No, no, by the way, just so yeah, sorry, guys, no. But then now to keep, I mean, I know you're saying that, you know, earning less than any business, when you do grow your business, there's going to be years where you plateau or do earn less, because you're developing certain different things. But I see this as where it's a different skill. It's not the money making skill, this is a taking care of yourself skill, and yeah, producing at the same, same rate, you know, like, Can you do that?

Kate Toon  30:35

Yeah. And I actually got some actual figures to show you cuz I know you love real figures. But I thought this would be interesting. For your listeners in terms of that growth. You know, you talked about the night dude, I've actually got I've actually got percentages for you, Meaghan, if you want them. I think that's really interesting. I'm just trying to find them for you. Now. Let's have a look. I probably won't be able to find them. Maybe we'll have to pause. And I'll find them in a minute. But what I've got is a breakdown of how much my income increased year on year, and how much my revenue increased year on year, which I think is another really important thing that people don't talk about, what is their revenue to expenses? You know, that that is? Most people just, I've got it, I found it found it. You want to hear it?

Meaghan Smith  31:20

Yes. Yay.

Kate Toon  31:21

It only starts from 2013 because that's when I stopped having, that's when I had my tax issue. And we'll call it that, shall we? So from 2014 it went up, my revenue went up. 5% The next year, 32 the next year. 22. The next year seven, the next year, 109. The next year 21. And then this last year 15. So you can see that there were some years 7% 5% not huge, that huge leap. 109 was the year after I set up recipe and the clever copywriting school. And then now it goes up a little bit each year, but not not, it's never going to go up 100% again, I don't think and it would be weird if it did like, what the heck would I be doing? But yeah, I just think that's interesting to see those different percentages over the years.

Meaghan Smith  32:09

Okay, so one of the numbers that you just read out there, which I think is really interesting. And I hope I recorded this right, you had one year when it increased 22% and then it went back to 7%. And then the following year was 109. I think that's really interesting that you've had a year when you earn less, but then the next year, it just skyrocketed.

Kate Toon  32:35

And to your it's exactly what you were saying about in the year where it went 7% I was trying to build something and I had to understand that I couldn't make as much money that year and I had to be okay with actually can't have your cake and eat it. So that's your was what yo and I dialled down the client work, which was coming in earning me a lot of money. But it meant left me No time to build something new. So I had less from client work, spend a lot of time building things. And then I saw the fruits of that the following year. And that's when it went up. 109. So yeah,

Meaghan Smith  33:06

I love that. I think that's a really important point. It's you don't you don't have to be rising, rising, rising all the time. But also when you when you read out all those numbers. Also, what stands out to me is the compound effect of being in business. I mean, you said that you

Kate Toon  33:26

it's a lot to do with longevity, it's a lot to do with just sticking around, you know, and over time seeing that growth. And sometimes the growth is so small that you barely notice it. But it's the compound effect that over time, there is this progression, and you just have to be patient, which is very hard for most people.

Meaghan Smith  33:44

Yeah, because it's boring. Just like, just like what we talked about with setting up your accounts. That stuff is boring. And we like to feel good and excited and feel like you know, everything's going really well. And to be honest, I think that is also a big factor with people staying in business because that sort of side of things. It's part of it. And I think it can be looked at in a way that is detrimental to the business but like because it seems like this boring, hard thing that we don't know. But actually, it's if you turn it around and look at it from a different perspective, it's like yeah, sometimes. I don't know having a shower. cutting your nails is boring too. But you do that stuff because you just look after yourself. You know,

Kate Toon  34:36

I think with the right education and the right reframe as you've just said, I you can learn to love your numbers and love doing this and love having spreadsheets and reports and seeing how you're progressing and seeing what happens if you dial this up a little bit. What impact does it have on income, and I love that because I was flying blind. And the thing is, if you don't know your numbers, so I've got my my bookkeeper now doesn't report every month. And I've set a target for what I want to make this year from a revenue point of view. And then you know, a true revenue point of view. So profit, profit, you know, and she gives me a percentage of how close I am to that. And just before Christmas, I was at, like, I think I was at 67% towards my goal, but I'm only six months through the year. So I'm ahead of myself. And you know what that enables me to do, take some time off, have turn it down, turn the dial down, because otherwise you will flog yourself, because there's always more we can be doing in our business. And it's like, when is enough enough, you know, because it'll never be enough, you can always earn more money, you can always work a bit harder, you can always release a new thing. But that's, and that's great for a while when you're in it, and you're super passionate, but it's not a great way to live your life. This is our life. You know, we've got kids, I want to spend some time with my son. So the numbers give me permission and freedom. And that's why they're not boring. That's why they're so so important. And that is the quote for the show Meaghan Smith. Like numbers a freeing once you know your numbers, it's freedom is freedom, not just financial freedom. It's freedom from stress. It's freedom from comparisonitis imposter syndrome. I don't care what Sue is doing over there with her launch and her figures that she's telling everybody, because I know my figures, and I'm all good. And I'm happy and I'm earning enough. And when is enough? Enough? You know, so yeah, it's freedom.

Meaghan Smith  36:27

Yeah, I love that. I absolutely love that. It's having a relationship with your business.

Kate Toon  36:36

Yep.Yeah, it can't just be a one night stand, it has to be a long relationship. And there's gonna be periods where you don't like each other. But overall, you know, you need you need to find comfort within your business and, and be able to have or continue. Because it is, you know, a successful business, a business that's running well, is predictable. And a predictable business can be a boring business. But you know, there's freedom and boredom as well. There's freedom in knowing that if I do this, this will happen. And that's lovely. That's a lovely place to be. And that's what I want for everyone to be able to pay themselves a salary to be able to pay themselves super, to be able to know roughly what they're going to earn every month. Yeah, they can dial it up or down, depending on whether they want to take a holiday or launch a new thing. But generally, they're pretty solid, their bills are paid. It's that feeling that I used to have an ad go to the checkout in Coles and just hope that there was enough money to pay for my shopping, and the mortification of having to put something back. You know, no one ever wants to have that feeling of having to put something back. And it's such a small goal. When we're talking about dreaming big and seven figures. I just want to go to Coles and put whatever I want in my shopping trolley and not worry about it. And I think that's actually a real decent human goal.

Meaghan Smith  37:49

Yeah, 100% Oh, I'm right with you. There they are. Oh, my goodness, there's so many things from what you said that I want to talk about. So let's let's move it along. First of all, I'd like to know if you have noticed anything when we talk of gender. So being You're a very successful business woman, and you're a woman. And I'm just curious to know if that that has been if you've ever found that an obstacle, I mean, not from your end, but just people thinking any like that you're not the owner or anything like that. I'm just curious.

Kate Toon  38:25

The guy don't think it's funny because I don't sort of think of myself as a particularly womanly woman. And, you know, so. And I don't think I market myself as a woman, a woman, although I've just put a picture of myself up as Wonder Woman, so maybe I've changed my tune. So femininity in my business has never been a big deal. Yeah. And I, you know, I get on well, with men, I've never had groups that are just for women. You know, I never market things as women only and a lot of female entrepreneurs do do that. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. That's not my vibe. So I've had a little bit more difficulty attracting men to my products and services, because I think they you know, there's something around them wanting to learn from men, not from a woman, whatever. that's their problem, not mine. But definitely in terms of the successfulness. So a couple of the I have never actually really talked about how much I earn online, because I'm not teaching people to earn money. It's not what I do. So you know, if your Denise Duffield Thomas or somebody like that, that you're talking about how much money you make, because you're teaching people how to make money for me, it's like, I'm teaching people how to do SEO, which may eventually on the money, but it's not my thing I'm selling. So I've never talked about it. And then you know, more recently, I have mentioned a few times what I earn, and people have honestly been shocked. And people have commented, a lot of men via LinkedIn have suddenly been getting in touch saying, Oh, you know, maybe we could do a call together. And maybe we could do this. And it's like, they didn't take me seriously before, because I can come across as quite playful and quite fun in my branding, but I'm very serious about money and I make a serious amount of money. I just don't take myself too seriously. And that's the difference. And other thing was when I won Australian Business Woman of the Year, like, I don't think people took me serious is businesswoman. And while I don't really believe in awards, I'm so glad I won that because that label meant it doesn't mean anything to me, because I know who I am. But it seems to mean a lot to other people, which is annoying. But, you know, I guess I guess you get it like, because I'm daft on social media and I'm playful, I post pictures of my dog. And I'm not there in like a pencil skirt, going MONEY MONEY holding a calculator. And, and it's like, that's what people want. They just shows that you can be a bit of a buffoon, you can be scrappy, you don't have to have a business plan. You don't have to kind of have a degree in business from Harvard University and still be Uber successful, make a lot of money, if that's what you want to do. So absolutely, I think, I think the female thing had a play in that. And also the way my kind of playful branding had a play in that. And I love when people underestimate me, I think that's fabulous, you know, because then you can just, you know, then you've got the upper hand really, because they're thinking whatever they want to view and you know who you really are. So, yeah, I answer. All right, yeah,

Meaghan Smith  41:04

no, but I'm so grateful that there are women like yourself and other players, especially in Australia, I work quite internationally. So I'm exposed to a lot of people in America, but I'm very interested in Australian women in business, because I'm in Australia, and I'm here in Australia. But to me, I'm discovering more and more women like yourself, and like people like Leonie Dawson who are so themselves. And I just find that so refreshing and so inspiring to be a living walking example of Hey, you can just show up as yourself. And that's okay. You don't have to be anything. I mean, obviously, you have to be selling a product or service that people want that is a value up to them, right. But how you do that is actually up to you and how you come across, some people are going to resonate with you or not, I think this is a good time to talk about that you. You have a book. It's called Confessions of a misfit entrepreneur and you you say things, you describe yourself as a misfit entrepreneur? Can you talk to that a little bit? Like? Why do you see like, why do you see yourself like that? And

Kate Toon  42:26

well, I guess, you know, entrepreneurs a bit of a cliche, we can, you know, think of the kind of, especially the US male entrepreneurs lying on their Porsche, you know, blah, blah, blah. But I think there's also a bit of a female entrepreneur cliche as well, you know, some of these fabulous people who run large companies. And the way that they put themselves out there, it's, for me, it's all comes down to pencil skirts. I don't know why. But I think you know what I mean, it's that kind of like, well presented, you know, beautifully manicured, makeups entrepreneur who looks like they have everything together. And then on the flip through these people who kind of artificially go, oh, gosh, I'm having a terrible time looking after my kids and their hair is artfully messed over like that, and they're holding like a scone. And it's like, I don't that's a photo shoot, that's still not real. You know, it's it's supposed to be authentic, but it's not. So I think I've, I wanted to show that you can be an entrepreneur and be successful and not do all those things. So you know, not have a business plan, not have an angel investor, not do joint ventures, not have a huge glass of money when you start but have a willingness to learn, and market yourself in a fun and playful way. Like you don't always have to be the smartest person in the room. But the thing I think I hadn't done until really the last couple of years was do what you just talked about step into the role of being a bit of a role model, because it's uncomfortable to think you're a role model. You feel like a bit of a knob to be honest, like who's looking up to me. But last year, I really noticed that people were looking to me, you know, during the bushfires and the Black Lives Matter and COVID people were looking to me for what are you doing? How are you getting through this? What was your advice? And I've never been very comfortable about that. But last year, I just decided, well, I'm going to share my it's only my opinion, I'm going to step into that because it's all very well and good me sitting here thinking I'm earning good money and have a nice life. And I'm doing like this. But if I don't share that, and show other people and give them permission to be a scrappy entrepreneur, or a misfit entrepreneur, then I'm not really helping. So it's about I switched over last year, I got over my myself in terms of I can't tell people how to do things, because who the hell am I to? Well, I can tell people how I do things and they can take it or leave it. So I've just stepped into that role of being hopefully a role model for people who don't want to have those other people as role models. Does that make sense? Yeah,

Meaghan Smith  44:42

yeah, absolutely. And I think that's a really important point because when I first started my podcast, I didn't have a business. I just started it because I felt passionate about it and I wanted to do it. I was like, let's talk about money. Women like let's let's get it out there in the world. Ben and I mean, ironically, now, I've discovered lots of other podcasts when people talk about money, but at the time, I didn't know about them. And I was like, there's no space, I can't find the space, I'm going to create the space. But then, having so many moments of thinking all well, who's gonna listen to me or whatever, and then finding that, oh, people are listening to me. And I've got the downloads to prove it and messages from people saying, you know, I mean, even my daughter's Kinder teacher, a couple, like when the podcast first came out, she was like, Oh, yeah, I never really thought about it. And now I've saved a few $1,000. And just like,

Kate Toon  45:41

this is it because a lot of people will silently lurk, and not necessarily tell you that the impact that you're having on you know, I got an email this morning from someone that said, I've been listening to your copywriting pod since 2016. And I downloaded this template, blah, blah, blah. And it's been life changing. But she didn't told me if the last five years Don't be today. But all that time I've been helping, and I didn't know it. So I think we underestimate the impact we have on other people, even if it's one or two people. And we and we don't, it's weird, that moment where you actually flip over, and I'm not sure where it happened into being somebody that's desperately trying to be heard, to being somebody that is being heard, and therefore has a responsibility about what they're saying, you know, that they have to think about it. Because in the first few months, years, it can feel like you're just shouting into the void. And then all of a sudden, without you knowing how the void start shouting back. And that's a really interesting moment.

Meaghan Smith  46:36

Yeah. And earlier on in the show, you talked about what word you didn't use courage. Maybe you said, being brave, I kept being a bit brave to get out there. And I think that's the thing, because in the beginning, you don't have that feedback from people and you do you are just putting yourself out there. And it can feel very uncomfortable and very scary and vulnerable. Right. But as Yeah, but as you've illustrated, it's people are listening, and people do you want what you have. And I think it's if you can do exactly what you just said, Get over yourself, right? And just keep going. And it's not about you, and you kind of do have to get over yourself to be to keep putting your goodness out into the world and keep helping people because, yeah, obviously you are helping people at a seven figure business, we would say that, pretty sure that's a successful business under many people's definition.

Kate Toon  47:39

Yeah, but equally not undermine, if that makes sense. So, seven figure business, whoop dee doo. You know, I'll tell you something, I'll make you laugh. Up until about three months ago, I didn't realise I was a seven figure business. Because in my mind, I only counted the zeros. And then I realised Oh, no, no, the bit at the beginning count. I can't tell you how stupid that is. It's like a stupid as I have a friend who thought approximate meant the exact opposite of what approximate men and they're like 47. And they only worked out last week, you know, do some of these weird things. So but the seven figure thing means nothing to me. Because what does seven figures mean? You don't know how much I'm spending on my team, or my salary? You don't know how much it costs me every month just to break even. So it's utter nonsense. I know, seven figure businesses where the owner still is paying themselves 30k you know, it's got to get over this seven figure thing. I hate it. I hate it so much. And, and you know, my definition of a successful business is that I can get up in the morning, walk my dog, do a bit of work, finish, maybe go for a run, spend some time with my kid, have some dinner and watch Netflix, that's a successful day to me. And I know that sounds meagre. But all I want is to be able to have a nice life and earn enough money to achieve that. And then more than that, I mean, I could push myself so hard. Megan, I could, I'm sure I could get like, you know, take figures if I really wanted to. But I don't really want to. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Meaghan Smith  49:02

Yeah, absolutely. And you just but you just hit the nail on the head. I mean, everything you're saying I just can relate to so much, but on a much smaller scale at this stage. But already I'm doing so many things in developing my business about just being the person that I want to be like, the whole reason I'm doing this is so I can be with my children and my family and have the lifestyle that I want and earn money. I mean, I have a goal to out earn my partner just because he's a doctor. And that's been a barrier for me like thinking that, you know, he's the one who's the primary earner and then I'm like, no if that why should why should that be a thing? Let's just do it just for fun, right? Like I actually want to do it to just be like, this is possible we can do this. Look girls like my girls who are four and six like this is how we do it. I'm not in a hurry. It's just one step at a Time, but I'm, I think that we kind of missed that point. And I certainly did in the beginning, because I suddenly found myself working at night, working on the weekends, you know, missing out on stuff with my children. And then I was like, hang on a minute, what this is wrong, this isn't quite right. This isn't why I'm doing this. And that's such an area that need that's a skill that needs to be developed, like time management, why are you even doing this stuff and working the business. So it works for you, because when it serves you, it serves everyone serves the customers serves everyone around you.

Kate Toon  50:36

I mean, I think there will always be periods where you have to work that little bit harder and do the weekends when you're trying to build stuff. But you know, I have had the startling realisation when I'm in some Facebook group, helping, you know, some bloke called Barry with a question. And Barry doesn't even say thank you. And I've spent 20 minutes helping him and my son is in the lounge on his own watching Telly. I'm like, Well, what am I doing with my life? You know, this is ridiculous. And you need to have those little aha moments, you need to set boundaries. And you need to understand that there are consequences. So you know, I see a lot of business owners going, you know, I really love to do what you have, and blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, Well, are you willing to do this? Are you willing? Like, you know, when your kids not well to jump on a podcast and make them sit for an hour? And with no, they'll be okay, and deal with that mom go? Are you willing to get on a call at 5am? Because you want to be on a podcast in the US? Are you willing to get on a plane fly to the Netherlands for a week, leaving your son are there are compromises Do not underestimate the compromises. And I find that a lot of people who want the money, aren't willing to do the work to get the money. And that's okay. But understand that understand that there is an exchange, there is always an exchange, you know, it's not going to happen without you giving something up. You can't have it all.

Meaghan Smith  51:50

Yeah, absolutely. And I think many people missed the point. And I want to be very clear, because I don't want to say it's not about the money, because I think that's crap. Like, it is about the money. Like whilst we're while we're in business, if it's not about the money, fine. Just give me all your profit, you know, right. You know, when people say stuff like that, oh, it's not about the money. It's like, okay, here's my bank account details, go for it, you know, it is about the money. But for me, the difference is, and the distinction is it's about the person that I become doing all this stuff. This is why I want to do it, because you learn and grow. I mean, think about who you were, when you first had your son, when you're pregnant with your son, you started your business to how much you've grown and evolved as a human being. I mean, isn't that the cool stuff?

Kate Toon  52:40

is absolutely, and all the people I've managed to come into contact with over the 12 years. But you know, it's a lot about, you talked about it earlier, it's a lot about persistence and showing up in those 7% years. And in those years, where you got tax debt, and in those years where your kids are ill and still showing up, and being in it for the long game and enjoying the struggle, not the destination, you got to enjoy the struggle, because you will achieve your goals. If you work hard, you will achieve your goals, you'll earn your husband, I will do whatever I want to do. But it's deeply unsatisfying, because the money comes in that Danny like, brilliant, it's amazing. Whoo. And then you're like, Okay, what next? Because that's just who we are, as humans is very difficult not to be like, that's, that's how we're coded as humans is to strive and struggle, you've got to enjoy the struggle, you got to enjoy the boring bits and the setting up the zero, because that is the real truth of business. It's not the sexy bit. It's not, you know, the lunch, the women's lunch with a bag with tissue paper in all the you know, that they're getting an award or whatever it is the boring bits that 90% of your business, I think is going to be pretty boring to some, but you have to find the pleasure in it, you know?

Meaghan Smith  53:52

Yeah. And you don't get to this place where suddenly it's better. I think that's a misconception. It's like, if we're striving to get to this place over there, that's better than here. No, no, over there is going to be the same as what it is now that we're still going to have a problem. Yeah, exactly. All right. Well, I sort of get the impression that we could chat for a very long time. But school trips and being on transport going to work only takes so much time. So let's wrap this up. I think Kate, I usually ask at the end. If there's any tip like any ritual or something that you do with your money. I mean, I know we've already kind of covered some stuff that you do in business that you'd be willing to share that you might that somebody might find helpful.

Kate Toon  54:38

And well, I have the Xero app on my phone and I get an excruciating amount of pleasure out of reconciling my Xero. I'm actually now banned from doing it by my bookkeeper because I'm reconcile it incorrectly. The only thing I'm allowed to reconcile is my paypal fees, but I still enjoy it. I still really enjoy the swiping for me like its profit first. I'm sure you've talked about this on the podcasts are planning to profit. First for me was life changing. Just having those separate accounts for different money every time $1,000 come in, you know, just splitting it out into GST, income, expenses, tax, and then profit. And watching that little profit account grab and that profit is mine. It's not for the mortgage. It's not for Coles, it's not for the business. It's purely to buy sexy things that I want not necessarily sexy things, you know what I mean? And so so my phone just went off. That's real life, people. I hope you didn't hear it. But yeah, I think really enjoying watching that money come in and dividing it into the pots, and then having enough money in your bank account to pay your tax bill. I can tell you, there's no better feeling in the world. It is honestly the sexiest thing in the world. Being able to go, oh, tax bills come in, and I have more than I need. There is nothing better than that feeling. I'll guarantee you. So that's what I hope I hope everyone can achieve.

Meaghan Smith  56:00

Yeah, I'd love that. And profit first, would you believe I have not actually read that book. But Hot Tip. I actually have it on my list for book club.

Kate Toon  56:13

But I didn't actually read it. I must admit, I just I look, it's pretty simple. You can work out in like, it's five different bank accounts with different percentages. I'm, I'm lazy. So I didn't read the book. But I think I understand the principle and it absolutely changed my business. I implemented it about two and a half years ago. It's it's it changed my life. for the better. So

Meaghan Smith  56:36

well. I am an absolute book nerd, obviously, because I have a book. So I definitely will be reading it. But I can't tell you how many books I have in lists of all that'd be good for book club that I have to read anyway.

Kate Toon  56:53

You've had this one to your list. This is the next one.

Meaghan Smith  56:56

Oh, yes. Yes. Your book? Of course. Well, okay, so that is perfect segue to where can we find you tell us all the things. I'll put it in the show notes, of course. But if someone's driving and thinking I want to look you up later, where are you?

Kate Toon  57:09

Well, thankfully, thankfully, I'm pretty good at the old SEO game. So if you type kate Toon into Google, you'll find all my bits. My main website is Kate Toon dot com and Kate Toon everywhere on Instagram, clubhouse, Twitter, Facebook, and yeah, then you kind of will be invited into the universe. And you can follow whichever path you want to you want to follow. But I've loved talking about this today. And I think, you know, I've been following your podcast. And when it first started, I remember listening to the first couple of episodes. And I just think it's such an important topic. And I'm really glad that you're spreading the word because there may be other money podcasts. Most of them are pretty dull. Meaghan, let's be honest. So I think this one's fantastic. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to talk about this today. So thank you.

Meaghan Smith  57:51

You are welcome. And I'm so touch for you to say that because that's exactly what I'm talking about. You know, you don't know who's listening. Well. Well, that's a beautiful thing. All right. Thank you so much, Kate, for coming on the show.

Kate Toon  58:11

Thanks so much.

Meaghan Smith  58:13

Well, there you have it. Don't underestimate what a powerhouse Kate Toon is. I know she comes across as very casual, but she is a very savvy businesswoman. And she does amazing things for not just women men as well in business, about the behind the scenes stuff that we need to develop the SEO and, and don't worry if you feeling a bit overwhelmed by that because you're not alone. That's why we have people like Kate so go check her out. And in the meantime, if you want to take any of what you've heard on the podcast further and explore your own thoughts about money and money mindset, get in contact with me on my website at money mindful.com.au. In the meantime, have a beautiful week. Until next time, bye bye.

Episode references

Kate Toon Website, Instagram

Xero: accounting software for small business

Be sure to join in on book club this month.  You can find out all the info and get the book here.

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