Kate Phelps is Founder and CEO of Taylor Reporting Solutions, LLC, a startup working out of the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Institute for Technology & Business Development (ITBD) incubator. Phelps met with Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price to discuss how and why she launched her startup and some of the challenges she faces as an entrepreneur.
Phelps claims she always had an entrepreneurial drive, but didn’t always know it. She recalls a boss she had in her 20s telling her: You’re never going to be happy unless you’re working for yourself. “It didn’t stick then,” she says, “But I realized I always wanted to do things my own way. I guess that makes me somewhat entrepreneurial.”
LAUNCHING THE STARTUP
Phelps launched her startup in 2009 and acknowledges that she received a lot of emotional support when she started. “I didn’t have this wonderful idea on my own,” she admits. “I was super scared.”
In a previous job she had developed software that helped clients understand and use sales and marketing data more effectively. The concept for Taylor Reporting Solutions evolved out of that work. When the company where she had been working closed, clients still had needs and asked her to provide the services, she explains.
Taylor Reporting Solutions helps continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) get more from the reams of data coming from their CRM software. “We teach clients the ins and outs of using the software to make sure they get good data out, but we also help them identify the needle in the haystack that will actually improve sales efforts,” explains Phelps.
The Taylor Reporting Solutions team has five employees, including Phelps’ mother and brother, who provide office management, data analysis, and client relations/customer services. “It’s sort of a family business,” she notes.
As far as marketing, Phelps says that it’s all been word of mouth. Her philosophy is, “If you have a good product, you give people more than they expect, and you’re there when they have problems or questions, you can’t fail.” It appears to have worked for her: she started with four clients and now has more than 80.
Phelps plans to grow her staff and underscores that she is motivated by helping clients do good things. “In the future I want more clients to succeed—more people to benefit from our services,” she says.
ENTREPRENEURIAL ADVICE, CHALLENGES AND SUCCESS
“I love my job,” says Phelps. She says she gets most excited about discovering tools clients will be excited to use and helping people do more. She adds that one of the best pieces of advice she’s heard is, “If you’re not excited, you’re not invited.”
In terms of advice, she admits, “I am risk adverse.” She recommends startups should, “Get sales first—once you’ve proven you can sell, then you can market.”
She adds that, “The ability to have a great idea and come up with a business plan is a totally different skill set than being able to run a profitable company.”
Some of the challenges Phelps faces as an entrepreneur revolve around thinking she can do everything. “I need to take a step back and figure out the best use of my time,” she says.
“Being an entrepreneur you have different challenges than your friends who are going to the office day to day,” Phelps explains. “They don’t have the same worries. For example, I don’t need leads, but I do need help figuring out how to actually grow and run a business. When do I hire more staff? When do I bring in IT?”
This is when working in an environment with an entrepreneurial ecosystem is helpful. Phelps became involved with the CCSU ITBD Incubator mainly because it was close to home. “I like being in a place with an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. “Entrepreneurs all need each other.”
To learn more about Taylor Reporting Solutions, LLC, visit www.taylorreportingsolutions.com.