Beat the imposter syndrome – do not doubt yourself. Hard work will pay off, you just cannot give up!
Katarzyna Iwanich, Co-Founder of Insightland.org, an SEO agency. Expert in business relations with over 10 years of experience. She worked for and with JWT, Tesco, Allegro (Naspers Group), Liberty Direct.
Where did the idea for Insightland.org come from?
I started my professional career both by representing a marketing agency, but I was also on the client’s side, to whom the agencies addressed offers. Experience gained over the years of cooperation on both sides taught me what business I want to run and how to offer my services, how to work with clients, but also what are the clients’ needs in terms of marketing and how to satisfy them.
Previously, as an employee of the companies I was not able to influence certain processes, only establishing my own company allowed me to spread my wings. Insightland came from our need for independence, freedom of work how my Business Partner and I see it and knowledge of how SEO can provide a positive impact on every business. Moreover, I wanted to challenge myself as a female leader and change an optic of how SEO agencies, mostly masculinized, can be seen and operate.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day with coffee and daily status with my team. We set the goals for our day, organize tasks and discuss the most urgent issues. Then I check my mailbox, prepare offers for new clients, often negotiate with them over the phone or at the meeting. I often visit my clients to discuss the most important aspects of our cooperation face to face. Only this way you can establish a relationship that can last longer and be satisfying for both sides.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I discuss most of the ideas with my ‘partner in crime’ and Co-Founder of Insightland, Irena Zobniów. Thanks to this we can confront different points of view and consult it with each other. I value my Partner’s opinions and suggestions. Before bringing any idea to life I am conducting thorough research to be sure whether someone already did it or maybe to get inspired by similar solutions. Then if we think that the idea is good, we strategize, set up the plan of implementing it, delegate tasks with specific deadlines.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I must say that the voice search excites me the most at the moment. We are working with our clients on optimizing their websites so they can increase their organic traffic through voice queries. Voice search will be growing really fast in the nearest future. Voice assistants are already being used more frequently. The global market of voice search increased by 187% last year, according to Canalys research. That is why I am really excited to be a part of this change and trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Every day I make a to-do list of the tasks I should do and the important tasks I have delegated to my team members. It helps me to be both organized and productive because I know which task is the most important and urgent, which is more time-consuming, how much time I need to devote to every task and what are my employee’s obligations.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn about imposter syndrome and remember about it every time you doubt yourself. As a female leader in the SEO industry, I doubted myself many times, especially at the beginning of my career. Probably, if I were more confident, I would be able to accomplish more sooner.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Daily meetings with the team help us work more efficiently at our SEO agency. And I know, many people disagree, thinking that daily meetings are too much, too often, they are not effective. But in our case, they work great! Our dailies last up to 10 minutes and every team member always know what are the priorities for the day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would definitely do over and recommend to other leaders empathic system of working with a team. It means that you are conscious about your communication with every team member.
A good leader should not only listen but also hear because it often happens that a team member is not able to directly communicate their problem, concern or request. Their intentions are visible when you create the right atmosphere for conversation and free speech. Remember that your messages should not be complicated, the more easily you forward a given message or information, the greater the chance for better understanding by others.
You should be able to verify if you have been understood well, e.g. by asking to paraphrase a given message by its recipient, i.e. employee. In this way, you can be confident that you are communicating effectively and that the task is understandable.
The ability to paraphrase is also a feature that a good leader should have because it allows you to tailor the message to the recipient. Some comments and feedback must be adapted to the sensitivity and position of your employee.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
This is a tip from when I was working in a marketing agency before I started my own business:
Measure and verify the time spent on each project. This knowledge, whether you spend 10 or 3 hours on a given project, will allow you not only to better manage your own work time but to keep an eye on the profitability of this project. What we are doing in the house is we measure a specific time, which we dedicate to the preparation of reports, meetings, and calls with clients, operational activities as well as analysis. Regardless of the project, each employee has the obligation to report the time they spent on completing the task. In this way, as a leader, I know what is the occupancy rate of my team, and also how profitable in terms of generated working time costs are our projects. Thanks to this, I know if there are tasks that require automation to shorten work time and increase profitability, as well as whether the team needs enlargement (is there is too much work for a given person).
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Losing your best performing specialist in a moment when a new project enters and the company is just beginning to prosper. And the problem is not lacking resources, but in losing a valuable team member, a great specialist, an experienced employee and a good person.
In such a situation, professional business owners know it was their fault because they did not provide the employee with possible conditions for development and well-being. And due to that, the project is threatened. In my case, we parted in full agreement and understanding, but this event has taught me more than all my previous years of work. I learned how to manage and work with a team better.
Due to the excess of tasks and responsibilities, an important project failed for us. It is a lesson to me in the future, employee satisfaction is the most important for the better development of your business. To take care of it, it’s worth listening to your team and talking about their needs. Without it, you will not succeed.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think that we live in times when we are really lacking time and are stressed a lot. So I really believe in the calming power of plants. They help you reduce stress levels and make you feel better. unfortunately, taking care of them may be quite challenging that is why I would love to have an app that would scan the environment of my workplace and send me notifications when I need to water every plant. Of course, I would probably need to provide the information about plants, but maybe they can also be photo scanned so the application knows exactly what plants I have at my workplace and what I need to do so they grow without troubles. I think of the notifications like “water plant x by the window with about half a glass of water”, “think of fertilization for the plant Y and Z”, etc. 😉 Smart gardens are fine, but it could actually help people in learning how to take care of their plants.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have recently bought 10 more plants for our office. I am very satisfied with this purchase as plants in the workplace makes you feel more relaxed and focused. It is just good for everybody to be around something green.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
This may sound strange, but Spotify helps me at being productive every day. It allows me to tune myself into the work or chill when the situation at work is stressful.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend “Yes she can” by Ruth Davidson. I think it can teach you about the many challenges women have while pursuing their goals and how they overcome them. In my opinion, this book can be a great inspiration for women but also can raise awareness about female optics and challenges, so it may be beneficial for male leaders.
What is your favorite quote?
Women are always saying, ‘We can do anything that men can do.’ But men should be saying, ‘We can do anything that women can do.’
- Measure and verify the time spent on a particular project or task. It allows you to keep an eye on how profitable is a specific project, better manage your work time and give you insights about tasks that take too long, so indicates their automation, outsourcing or reducing.
- Be organized – create to-do lists so you can work more efficiently and know what are your priorities.
- Listen to your team carefully, their input can be more valuable than you think and it creates a better space for cooperation that characterize with trust and truth.
- Beat the imposter syndrome – do not doubt yourself. Hard work will pay off, you just cannot give up!