The Uncommonwealth Podcast – Katie Hutchinson, Owner of KHIT

Katie - KHIT

Here is the transcript from The Uncommonwealth of Kentucky Podcast with Katie Hutchinson.

 

Jason Heflin:

Hey, welcome to the Uncommon Wealth Podcast. Today, we have Katie Hutchinson who is owner of KHIT, which is a software and technology company based up out of Louisville and Southern Indiana, and she’s doing some great things up there. We’ve had the opportunity to work with her a little and have built a great relationship. And so we’re really excited to have her on the podcast today. Welcome, Katie.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Thank you.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. And so we’ve got several questions that we’re going to go through today, but maybe you could just tell us a little bit first about the company and maybe how it got started, just kind of tell us the elevator pitch of the story of how you got it rolling.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Sure. KHIT Consulting just celebrated its first birthday in February, and we’re an IT consulting project management company, so we do project managements for IT projects, but also specifically, mental health and behavioral health, substance addiction recovery services. We help build and configure systems for them that allow them to capture data and to bill correctly. Also worked with some other local restaurants and things, updating technology. So yeah, we get into whatever we can.

 

Jason Heflin:

How many people do you employ?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Before COVID, we employed 12. I am CEO. I have a COO, CFO and CTO that make up my administration team, and then there are eight other, both part and full-time people that work in different aspects. I have a developer online team and people who do configuration and data conversion specifically.

 

Jason Heflin:

Okay. Great.

 

Chad Webb:

I’ll jump in here as well. This is Chad Webb. We’ve got Rachel here as well. I’ll take care of that part of it, Jason, for you, introducing [crosstalk 00:02:03].

 

Rachel Kirby:

Thank you, Chad.

 

Chad Webb:

Hey, no problem, Rachel. So, Katie, kind of where did you grow up and how did you get your start in business or life in general?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

It’s a crazy story. So I grew up in Southern Indiana, in Charlestown, on a farm, and I actually went to college for electrical engineering at the University of Global Speed School, but quickly changed my major. I declared my major eight times in college and came out an English teacher. And I loved teaching, absolutely loved it. And then I got into kind of back into technology, which was math and technology was my first love, and became a director of technology. And once I left the classroom, it just wasn’t as fulfilling, and I didn’t feel like I could go back. So I had the opportunity, somebody needed a project manager for technology and I love to say yes, so I said yes. And after about nine months of working for myself, I decided to go ahead and make it official and start a company and hired my COO and we got together and just said yes and started building things.

 

Jason Heflin:

Tell us a little bit about that relationship with your COO.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

So my first COO, who is now our CTO, it’s kind of crazy, but is actually my sister. She is 17 months younger than I am, and she has a degree in business and economics. And she was a stay-at-home mom for seven years, I think. And when I was about to start that business and it wasn’t officially an LLC yet, but I needed help. And I didn’t know who else to turn to. Everybody else I knew had jobs and things like that. And so I went to her and I said, “Hey,” and her youngest had just started school and so it was perfect timing, and I said, “Hey, will you help me out with these things?” And she’s actually the one that helped me run my campaign. I’m on a school board, the local school board, and it was a really hard campaign. I was going against an incumbent that goes back in politics, and she helped me run that campaign. It was amazing, and I won.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And so I asked her to help me with this, and then we decided to make it official and so she’s been there with me. And actually, my mom works for me too. And yeah, so it’s kind of a family company.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, and your COO’s pretty much your right hand, right?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

She is. She is. And she’s my CTO now, because it made kind of more sense, so we hired somebody else to do business development and things like that. So, yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Katie, where did you go to high school?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Charlestown High School in Charlestown, Indiana. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Rachel Kirby:

Oh, okay. I grew up in New Albany, Indiana. I didn’t know…

 

Katie Hutchinson:

[crosstalk 00:04:53]-

 

Rachel Kirby:

Yeah.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

… really close.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I can’t tell you what year I graduated because [crosstalk 00:05:01].

 

Rachel Kirby:

Probably the same year. We’re probably really close.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Probably. Yeah.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Sorry, Chad, to cut you off.

 

Chad Webb:

Oh, no, no, no. No worries. I was just going to ask, so maybe I got something incorrect there in my head, but you said you started with electrical engineering or do you have an electrical engineering degree?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

No, I only lasted a semester as an electrical engineer. I was really young. I had started school early, and so by the time I got to college, I did really well in high school, but my freshman year, I just had too many credit hours and it just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. There was just so much to get out of the way at first. And I actually told my mom after that first semester that I wasn’t going to college because Bill Gates did not go to college, and he is super successful. And she told me I am not Bill Gates and enrolled me in the IUS here in New Albany, where Rachel’s from. So I said, “Okay, I’ll be an accountant,” because I still really love math, and then I was going to be a math teacher but you have to take all of these classes that you’ll never ever, ever teach.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And then I think from there, I went into theater, because that’s what you do when you’re a [inaudible 00:06:10] is you major in performing arts. I was also an art history major, and then I got serious and I was a communications major, and that’s what I was going to do, but then I became an English teacher, and I loved teaching. Truly, I felt like it was a calling.

 

Chad Webb:

What level were you teaching English at?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

High school. I started junior high and moved to high school.

 

Chad Webb:

Okay. And you did that for how long?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I was in the classroom for nine years. I spent a year as a teacher coach and then three years as an e-learning coach. One of my district went one-to-one grades, three through 12 with Chromebooks. And then I became a director of technology for our district.

 

Chad Webb:

Okay. That’s cool. My wife’s a eighth grade math teach and I think she’s always looking for ways to assist teachers. She enjoys being in the classroom but I think after a certain amount of time, 10 to 15 years, [crosstalk 00:07:00].

 

Katie Hutchinson:

It’s hard. I remember being in the classroom, people would write these articles and blog posts about why they left teaching. And I was like, how could you leave teaching? It’s so rewarding. But it is very stressful, and it’s not just the kids. I mean, the kids, they’re kids and they’re wonderful and horrible at the same time, but everything else that goes with it is just, it’s exhausting. It really [crosstalk 00:07:24].

 

Chad Webb:

It also seems like there’s a point in time where you, after a certain amount of time, especially if you stay in one grade, your distance between that grade and yourself is shorter. And as you stay in that grade, it gets further and further. And so there’s a little bit of a space there between what you can relate to them on and things like that, seems that way.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

That was always my biggest fear in the classroom was that I would start one year and it would be the year that I couldn’t connect with my kids anymore. That was my biggest fear. It never happens, but I was only in there for nine years, so.

 

Jason Heflin:

And so how have you applied that teaching, because that teaching persona probably works pretty well for you in what you do now because you are teaching people.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. We do a lot of training. We do a lot of corporate trainings and my husband even asked that how I can train people on something I didn’t know how to do. And I think my love of teaching comes from my love of learning. I love to learn new things. If people ask me if I know how to do something, I say yes because I know I can learn it and that we can figure it out. And so that transition from teaching kids to teaching adults and even what I do now is just sparking that helping them find that love of learning and helping them get to a place where they feel comfortable, number one, not knowing, and number two, where they can seek out their own answers, especially with the internet in the classroom, I google a lot of things, and that’s what I did. Even as directory of technology, people would ask me questions and I would just google it.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And so you’re no longer the only person who holds the information. You are just someone who creates opportunities. So creating opportunities for kids was an easy transition to create opportunities for adults and just say, “Hey, I know you don’t know and I know it’s scary,” especially certain groups of people because I’m in technology and they say, “Oh, I’m not very good at computers.” And that’s totally okay. Wherever you are, it’s okay. But it’s never okay to stay there, no matter what. You always want to be better and just helping people realize that and say, “Oh yeah, I could totally learn this.”

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. What do you find different about, you’re a woman on business and I wanted to talk about that briefly today because I feel like it did not hold you back. Because, I mean, I met you when you were getting this started or just after you got it started, and you were, man, that first meeting, you were raring to go and it was energizing. So, what was that like starting a business as a woman? Were there hurdles? Was it easier than you thought? What did you think?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I think it was both easier and harder. I never had that feeling of being held back because I was a woman until I got into technology. And when I first got back into technology, even being in the schools and in classrooms with teachers, the technology department was mostly made up of males. It was all males, except there was another e-learning coach that was female. And just the assumptions people have about women in electronics and women almost in the ability to problem solve. When I became a director, it was even worse. A lot of the other admins were males and that’s when I really started to feel it.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

As starting my own business, there’s a lot of really great resources out there. Once you become licensed [inaudible 00:10:53] business, there’s tons of people that will just help you succeed. But even now, I feel it, especially having men who work for me and they’ll say, “Oh, do you want me to be on that call with you?” And I say, “No, I don’t. I want to be able to do this on my own.” And I try to be very self-aware of it and I try not to push my maybe insecurities or my fears off onto other people, but especially being in a male dominated field like technology, I mean, when you look around, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, all these owners of even big companies like Amazon and Google, which is, Alphabet, they’re all male. And so I think there’s definitely that not necessarily a stigma, but just, we still have a long way to go not being able to see gender.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Yeah, there’s a gap, for sure.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

There is.

 

Chad Webb:

What about, one thing that we had on here was how did you end up in the Louisville market with KHIT?


Katie Hutchinson:

So, most of my clients are actually all over the states, Arizona, New York, Texas, Missouri, Ohio. I don’t even have any clients… well, I did have a couple clients locally. I just finished up those projects. And it was how I broke into that, into Louisville, was through connections. Connections are so important. I didn’t want to believe it. My dad had always told me, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And being a lover of learning and a lover of education, I wanted to be like, “No, it is not. What you know will carry you anywhere.” And he was right. Don’t tell him I said that. It really is who you know.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And so, someone I had met in a function that I was actually attending with my husband, who’s also project manager, so there’s two IT project managers in the house, had reached out to him to say, “Hey, do you know of anybody who could do this? I need somebody who’s going to be,” he’s my biggest cheerleader, besides my mom and my dad, that’s my husband. And so he’s like, “Oh yeah, my wife could do that.” And so that’s how I got my first self-employed position and he was really the one that was like, “You could do this. You could make it a business.” I’m not sure that I would have been… and people, they come to me and like, “Oh, tell me how you did it.” You really have to have a couple of things.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I had him to pay the bills. So if this thing flopped and I was out of work, I wasn’t going to have to worry. To start a business, you really have to have someone to fall back on. I think that, that really helped. And so that’s how I broke out first in Louisville. And then it was actually the vendor of the project I was working on said, “Wow, you’re really good at this. Do you mind helping my other clients?” And I said of course.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And then, client referrals and vendors referring me and people, and going to events and things like that was how I kind of… and working with people, like, I called in help on one thing and so he referred me. He’s actually in New York, which is how I got my New York client. They said, “Hey, we need help with this.” He’s like, “I don’t do that, but I know somebody who does.” And so connecting is… making those connections is very important.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, and not to discourage people from starting a business, but you hit on something that is kind of close to me too. So when you said you started, you had to rely on other income. Financially, you don’t make money on day one. You make money a year or two years later. And so that’s something that I think a lot of new business owners don’t prepare for. They just love the sort of romantic idea of owning a business and then suddenly, they’re dealing with personality issues and all these things, and they’re not even getting paid, or they’re writing checks. It’s costing them money to start the business. So are you in a place now where you feel like you’re on solid ground and you’re kind of past all that worry if it’s going to “work”?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I think I am. The pandemic really set everybody back, and for a little while, I really thought I was going to come through unscathed. I thought KHIT was just not even going to notice that all these places are closing down, and so I did have to furlough some people, which was really hard just because of who I hire and everybody comes… I’ve never had to search out people to work for me. People come to me and say, “Hey, I’d love to work with you,” or, “I know somebody who’d be really good at that.” But honestly, I worry about it every day. It doesn’t matter how I think I’m a warrior, and it is the hardest thing. And because so many people, and I think if it was just me and maybe even if it was just me and Amber, who’s my CTO, it wouldn’t be a big deal if it failed. But now, I had people who quit their jobs to come work with me and I feel like I’m responsible for supporting them.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

It’s funny that you talk about having that financial kind of stability and not being able to make money. The way I started my business, my first year, I remember my tax advisor said that I wasn’t spending enough money on things that… there wasn’t enough overhead. He’s like, “You don’t have enough overhead. You should do more things,” or whatever. Just because I was able to start my company with Wi-Fi. But now that we’re bigger, we have licensing fees and we’re G-suite and we have all kinds of other things that you don’t have when it’s just you.


Jason Heflin:

Yeah. I think that’s always a big thing, and we hit on it with other business owners that we’ve interviewed, that’s always a big surprise when you start talking about taxes and the financial… it’s amazing how much, how quickly, you’d make money and you have this little pile of money that you made and you’re so excited about it and then everybody kind of gets their hands in it and then you got to pay everybody. And suddenly, there’s hardly anything left. Was that a wake-up call for you or was that a…?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I hate talking about money. I try to avoid it whenever I can and my CFO was like, “You have to be involved in this. You are are the CEO. This is your company.” And I just want him to deal with it and just let me know if I need to work more or work less, basically. And so, I just, because I don’t do it for the money, and I don’t think anybody who starts their own business does. But I will tell you that I have a newfound respect for people who own their own companies and even for companies that have a couple locations. People don’t realize what goes in to having a business. You see something on the internet and you’re like, “Oh, why is that so expensive?” Places like Itsy, especially, Etsy, I think is how I’d say it actually.

 

Rachel Kirby:

I thought you’re just being fancy.

 

Jason Heflin:

I was like-

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I was. I was pronouncing it in a French way. Itsy.

 

Jason Heflin:

… does she know something? The itsy bitsy spider.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. The Itsy…

 

Jason Heflin:

Or the etsy betsy part.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Etsy betsy, I am so out of the loop of that stuff. But I have a friend who shops on that, and you see things that are expensive because they’re homemade, but people don’t realize what it goes into, and you have to think how much is your time worth. Because when you run a business, that’s what it comes down to, especially a consulting business. I do deliver products, but a lot of times as a project manager, you don’t give them anything in the end, except security and a sense of accomplishment and things like that, but I’m not shipping them anything. They don’t have anything to hold necessarily, and so when you build them, what are you worth? And that was hard for me to come up with billing rates and…

 

Chad Webb:

Sure. I think, I mean, I think we struggle with that as well at times. We’re in Bowling Green, you’re in Louisville, there’s times where we have to take those things into consideration and we’ve got a history of the things that we’ve learned and our knowledge, and it’s like, “Well, that’s worth something,” but then there’s times when you’re like, we come up with these rates and you’re like, “Is that too high? Is that too low?” I think that’s one of the hardest things to realize is, because you want to give yourself credit, but if you’re also have got some sort of humility around that as well and it’s like, “I don’t want to do,” but.

 

Chad Webb:

And then at the end of the day, it’s like you were saying, we really enjoy, it sounds like you do as well, we enjoy owning your own business and being in control of our own time. I think sometimes, that’s more important to us than money is controlling the time that we have. But then again, we’ve all got goals and we’ve all got plans for our families, which involve money. So.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Well, I think one of the big things is, and I feel like you guys can really understand with products you make, because our website is just amazing and our case study is gorgeous, you’re like, “Oh, that seems high,” but then you do it and you’re like, “I totally should’ve charged more for this. This is amazing. Look what I made. Look what I did.” And that’s kind of how I am. I don’t want to charge a lot but then when I work 12, 14 hours of the day to make that deadlines or things, I’m like, “Ah, they don’t deserve you.”

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. And then we have a similar model and that you have people that actually are doing the work for you, same goes for us. And then when they produce something that’s so awesome, “Wow, I didn’t even do a thing and this beautiful thing just happened. This is amazing.”

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And I’m constantly like… and my CFO turns over. I’m constantly wanting to give people raises because I’m like, “She did an amazing job on that. We should give her a raise.” And he says, “You need to slow down because you don’t want to get into a place where you can’t give her a raise because you can’t afford her anymore,” type of thing. And I kind of wonder, I’m reading a book right now. Actually, I bought it for all my admin, the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and it’s about being a woman and leadership and how that’s different, and I wonder if… because my CFO and my COO, they’re like, “Oh, we should charge more. We should charge more.” I don’t know if it’s because they’re men or just because their jobs, I hired them to make sure that we survive and that we succeed. So I’m always question that because I don’t want to play that card.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. There’s an ego thing with me too. I want to win. I want to get all these jobs and so sometimes, you have to pull yourself back and say, “Yeah, but they can’t afford it.” And so we’ll just lower the cost and then they’ll afford it and then I’ll win, but you really lose.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Especially with this COVID, I had a conversation with my CFO and I was like, “We can just lower the rates.” He’s like, “No, we can’t just lower the rates to the point where we can’t even afford to do it anymore.”

 

Jason Heflin:

Right. So the pandemic, have you seen people pull back on their spend?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah, especially, like I said, a lot of our clients are behavioral health and addiction recovery, and when people can’t come in, then they can’t bill and so they don’t get paid. And so then they can’t pay the bills.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. And that’s a challenge because right now, mental health is probably more important than it’s ever been, so there’s going to be a hole there that we’re going to have to fill as a society. But this isn’t a philosophy podcast, so what’s the next question, Chad, non-philosophical?

 

Chad Webb:

So what do you think would be the meaning of life on this, Katie? One thing I had was you had mentioned Etsy or your French version, Itsy, do you have any sort of side hustle things or anything like that? Any hobbies that you still do, that you focus on outside of running your business?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

So my whole life is very cyclical. I get in to these things and these passions. I learned to knit a couple of years ago, and I was knitting anything that was square or rectangle, wash cloths and scarves and hats that I could then sew into a round shape, and…

 

Rachel Kirby:

Small blankets.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah, small blankets, anything that had four corners on it, man, I could knit crap out of it. And then sometimes, I will get into these things where I’m working 80 hours a week, seven days a week, and I feel like I don’t see the sun. I have read six books this month. So that’s what my passion is right now is reading. Yeah, I just gobble them up.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Are they all business?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

No. [crosstalk 00:23:29].

 

Chad Webb:

You’ve read six books?

 

Rachel Kirby:

Tell us the books.

 

Chad Webb:

You’re amazing. How do you do it?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I read really fast. So there were two that I read, I read two of them in… one, I read in 24 hours and one I read in about a day and a half. So I read really quickly. And it’s not hard literature.

 

Jason Heflin:

Wow. So can you tell us what the business books were in that list?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

There were zero in that list.

 

Jason Heflin:

Okay.

 

Rachel Kirby:

That’s okay.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

[crosstalk 00:23:58] is read the first three chapters of a book and be like, “That book was awesome. It taught me so much.”

 

Chad Webb:

That’s Jason. That is exactly what Jason [crosstalk 00:24:06].

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. And then I’d tell Chad I read it, I’d say, “Oh, I read that book.” And he’s like, “Oh yeah.” And then he’ll ask me a question that was from the last chapter, I’m like, “No, I got what I need to know that.”

 

Katie Hutchinson:

There’s….

 

Rachel Kirby:

I think-

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah?

 

Rachel Kirby:

… that only counts if the book is three chapters long.

 

Jason Heflin:

Right. Right.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Well, I read The Power of Habit, and when I talk about it, you would think I wrote the book with the guy, David, I forget his name. It is so good, it just, it taught me about how when your short-term memories, so when you convert a short-term memory to a long-term memory, that happens at a different part of the brain than forming habits. So even if you have an accident and you lose your short-term memory, you can still form habits. And I only read the first three chapters of that book, but [crosstalk 00:24:51].

 

Chad Webb:

You know what’s funny is I read that book and I specifically got it because I thought it would kind of explain to you how to build habits. So just let me know, or I’ll let you know, it does not do that.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

[crosstalk 00:25:05].

 

Chad Webb:

No, it doesn’t go [crosstalk 00:25:06]. Yeah. But anyway, yeah, it was good book though. It’s interesting just learning about that, but that’s a good one.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. So no side hustles, nothing I get paid for but things I enjoy.

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah. Well, that’s good too. I think, I mean, being able to take those breaks. If reading is something you like, that’s definitely something to do because as you said, there’s going to be weeks where it’s going to be 80 hours, so [crosstalk 00:25:27].

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Are you learning anything new right now?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. I’m learning, because I absolutely love to learn, and I’m even reading some of the books, I read just some mystery books. I learn about different islands and different cultures. I read one, something in the water, and they were in a new place and you learn about new cultures, and then I’ll google those things. I’m learning German right now. I…

 

Rachel Kirby:

Oh, yeah?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. [Foreign language 00:25:57]. That means I understand a little German. That’s the only thing I can say, but, also, I don’t really understand it if you said it to me. But we’re supposed to go to Germany… I’ve been in Germany twice. I had a foreign exchange student in 2015, and he just became a part of the family. We became part of his, and so we actually spent Christmas there last December, and we were supposed to go in June and I was like, “Darn it. This time when I go, I’m going to know how to say things,” and it got canceled. So I still have a year to learn.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. The only German I know are foods, so food names.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Like pretzel and…

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, Bratwurst, schnitzel.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Schnitzel?

 

Chad Webb:

Next thing I had on here was is there anything that since you’ve been running your business, is there anything that you, looking back on it, you kind of wish you knew and maybe even something you would’ve changed with that knowledge?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I think, I really wish… I don’t know that I would change anything because you don’t learn from success, right? You only learn from failure. If a scientist has a hypothesis and he doesn’t experiment and it’s a success, he doesn’t really learn anything, right? So he changes it until it fails, and then he’s like, “Oh, so that’s what makes that work.” And so when something succeeds, you haven’t learned anything. When something fails, that’s your learning opportunity. So I don’t think I would change anything. There’s a couple people that we hire that we did have to let go, which I am not good at, and I am not very nice person.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I sound very nice and I’m all positive and [crosstalk 00:27:36], I am not nice, but when it comes to letting people go, even furloughing people, my CFO was like, “We need to furlough these three people,” and two of them, I called, I couldn’t do it. I was like, “Hey,” and they’re like, “Oh hey. Just got finished working on this.”

 

Katie Hutchinson:

But if I could go back and tell myself something, I would tell myself, “It’s going to be fine and it is going to work out and everything is temporary. Everything is temporary.” The big successes we have in the beginning were amazing, and that the fear was I didn’t want to go too fast, but then there are things that happened recently that have caused us to slow down, and it was really scary for a bit. I was very down and very scared for not just the business, but for the people who are working with me. I would definitely go back myself and say, “Don’t even hesitate. Just do it. It’s going to be great. It’s going to also suck, and everything’s temporary.”

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, there’s a burden of ownership when you have a business, and you touched on it earlier and then again just now, which is you’re responsible for not just your wellbeing but all the wellbeings of the people who work for you. You’re not responsible for that, but you’re at least a steward of it. I mean, those are very serious decisions, but you do have to do it and that it’s just part of it, and it’s awful. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s sleepless nights. I mean, yeah. You know. I mean, it’s…

 

Katie Hutchinson:

It really is. I think [inaudible 00:29:10] and people would say, “Hey, what’s the one thing you tell me about starting a business?” It will cause you to lose sleep. It doesn’t matter how awesome things are.

 

Jason Heflin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And a lot of times, like I said, a lot of times, it’s not even you’re worried about your own wellbeing or financial footing or whatever that is, you’re more worried about, oh my gosh, I’ve got to keep all this moving. You’ve got this ball rolling and now it’s rolling and people are depending on it so you got to keep it rolling.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yup. And everybody’s happy and it’s wonderful and how do I keep it going? And, yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Is that your number one maybe point of anxiety with owning a business? Or is there another one that really jumps out?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Really, I did cut my hours back when things started, and they are starting to pick back up. So that is major answered prayer that, that’s happening. But I did cut my hours and as long as my people had work, I was fine. When they started running out of work, that’s when I really… I think that’s the biggest concern. It’s not finding clients, it’s not losing clients, it’s not anything, it’s just making sure that everybody has work. Like I said, I think if it was just me and Amber, like it was in the beginning, I would just work until there wasn’t work and then I wait when there was more, but when you have people who depend on that salary and that work for their liveliness, it’s the hardest thing.

Jason Heflin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Rachel Kirby:

When you talked about you only learn from failing, what was one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Not everybody is going to think you’re as great as your mother thinks you are.

 

Rachel Kirby:

The one that made you enroll in college?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah, the one that, really, I can thank for who… I mean, you can both thank her and blame her for everything I am today. My therapist says that’s totally fine to blame your mom. And so I think the biggest thing is you can’t be good at everything and everything… not everybody is just going to think you’re the greatest and that your ideas are perfect. And sometimes, things don’t work out and you have to let people go. I think I’ve been blessed that I haven’t had a big failure yet. I mean, we’re still young, but I think the biggest one is realizing that you can’t control everything and even when you work the hardest, it’s not going to be enough.

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah. And how many years in are you guys?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Just one and a half. We’re a baby.

 

Chad Webb:

One and a half. That’s right. Okay.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. I’ve been working for myself since January of 2018, but KHIT Consulting LLC was founded in February of 2019.

 

Jason Heflin:

And you’ve really gone a long way in a short time.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. Went from just me to me and my sister and now, there’s 12 of us. Technically, there’s still 12 of us where some of us are just not working right now.

 

Jason Heflin:

What are you most excited about next? Or maybe this is more of a goal question, I don’t know if you can really share that, but what’s next for you guys?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I would really like to, I mean, we really do have this niche right now with mental health and behavioral health and it’s definitely something I feel like I’m giving back. I would really like to just gain some more projects that are maybe outside of that. I still feel like I’m learning the system updates all the time and the vendor has updates and all my different clients have different requirements and things like that, but I would really love to kind of learn something new. We are breaking into some RPAs, robotic something, something. I forget what it stands for. My developer knows that.

 

Jason Heflin:

I got people.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. I got people do that so I don’t really know. We’re getting ready to answer our first RFP in the state of Indiana, so that’s exciting to see that those connections kind of come together and we just like to get in some of the states that we’re not in and just keep learning and keep putting name not just in our belts and saying, “Oh, yeah. We can do that. We can do that.”

 

Jason Heflin:

We should talk about that RFP at some point down the road because I have my personal opinions about RFPs.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. I think [inaudible 00:33:17]. I’ll be on the school board. We are required to do them and when you can do RFQs instead, we try to, and when you establish relationships with people and things like that, so yeah, I would love to have that conversation with you.

 

Jason Heflin:

All right. Let’s do that.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Okay.

 

Jason Heflin:

What else we have on the question list, Chad?

 

Chad Webb:

I think another thing we were going to ask, which we may have already touched on, was Jason asked about the ultimate goal, but, I mean, I know it’s only been, what, it’s been a year and a half, you said, or so, what do you consider the biggest success? And that doesn’t necessarily have to be financially, but even something that came through that you learned or something like that.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I ask my CFO this question because I thought about it and I was like, “What is my biggest success?” And of course, he talked a lot. He talks a lot. He never stops talking sometimes. And he was like, “Oh, when you took that one client and you did this and then you did this and you saved them $7 million in revenue that would’ve been lost if you hadn’t [inaudible 00:34:20],” and so I do have those. I have great client responsibilities, but I really think that my biggest success is being able to have a place where people can work that they love their job, and that they love not going to work every day, because we all work from home, but even before the thing.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

But just creating a space, because we did this exercise with my CFO, CTO, COO, where we said why do we do what we do. And I think one of the reasons that I started working for myself and then I love working for myself is I don’t have to listen to anybody tell me that I’m not good enough or that I lack this or lack that. And of course, I always want to grow and I listen to criticism, but it’s different when you’re in a place where criticism really comes from a place of love and respect. And so I would say that my biggest success is being able to build this business like a family, and including family. I mean, I do have people that aren’t related to me that work for me.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

But everybody who works with us and who has lasted, I think we let go of two people who weren’t working out in the beginning, but just being able to find people that are always there when you call and really feel like they’re going to do everything they can to make me successful and to make the business successful and not just for themselves. I would say that would be my biggest success is the relationships that I’ve built with my employees.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, and I think you can identify early on if they are doing this for a career or if they’re just doing it for a job, like they’re clocking in and clocking out and I’m not doing anything extra, I’m just here for this one thing that’s not in my job description sort of thing. And those people, they’re going to be fine but they’re never going to grow. And so it’s important to find people that you can, not you can grow, but they can grow with you and also teach you things.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. Yeah, and you can encourage. I have one lady, Rebecca, who works with me and she’s my spreadsheet master. And I asked her to teach me something one time, because I’m pretty good at Excel, but the things she can do are just incredible. And she said she didn’t want to teach herself out of a job, and I said, “No, I would never let you go.” But I try to encourage them without having… I have one guy, he’s super young, but, man, he loves to learn, but he does not like being on client’s sight. He does not like being in front of the client. He doesn’t really like talking to people. And so I don’t want to ever put him in that position where he would feel uncomfortable, and I feel like he can grow but not be somewhere where he doesn’t want to be.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And that’s what I love about people who work… I know their strengths. We’re not so big that I don’t know everybody. I know their strengths, I know their weaknesses, I know who doesn’t get up until 11:00 and who will work until 2:00 AM in the morning and so yeah.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Would you recommend working with family?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I think it’s difficult. I mean, my family is amazing. And my sister and I are completely different. I don’t have kids. That was her job was to have kids. I mean, she did graduate college with bachelor’s, but her job was to get married, have kids, and then she stayed at home and was a homemaker. But I mean, she loves working with me and we’re a great team. My mom retired to come work for me and it’s just, if you can put on different hats and say, “Hey,” it’s funny because sometimes, when I call my mom, she’ll say, “KHIT Consulting, may I help you?” And that’s when I know that she’s sitting on her computer, and the family that works with me, they’re really hard workers and they have the same work ethic I do, even if we’re completely different.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

So I would not recommend it for everybody because everybody’s got that cousin that’s lazy or that nephew that just wants a free ride type of situation. But it’s really worked up for me. My best friend actually love to come work for me. We’ve been best friends for longer than we haven’t. That was a concern too but we work really well together, and of course, all of those are female too. So I don’t know if that makes the difference either because we can separate those roles between I’m your boss or I’m your daughter, or I’m your boss, I’m your sister.

 

Chad Webb:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s why Rachel joined us because she’s my best friend.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Oh, is she?

 

Rachel Kirby:

I think I have to say yes to that question.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

It’s kind of those things where you don’t want to live with your best friend type of thing, but I think that’s only true in college. And once you get older, you learn so much about people and yeah, I mean, if you’re truly close and you have a great relationship, you can say, “Hey, you suck a that.” Although [inaudible 00:39:27], my best friend, she would probably tell you that I suck at more things than I would tell you she sucks at because she’ll email and I won’t respond for… I’ll call her and be like, “Hey, what’s up?” She’s like, “Did you respond to my email?” I’m like, “Nope, I didn’t.”

 

Chad Webb:

I think Jason and I, we started this company as friends and I think we had a lot of experience doing things beforehand together so I think we kind of knew it wasn’t like… I think we knew what we were getting into with each other. I don’t think…

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. My sister and I would live together forever, of course, growing up. And we are really close in age and we’re really close anyway. I mean, we talk all the time outside of work and see each other at least twice a week. And when she did such a great job on my campaign, I knew that she would pay just as much detail to work.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. And Chad and I rarely get angry with each other. I mean, usually, because with two people, we’re partners so we’re 50-50 in this business, and so there’s no tiebreaker vote. So it’s just if we disagree on something, one of us has to give, and we’ve learned that over the years, it just ends… somehow, it just normally just happens very naturally. I usually just bow to his expertise if we’re talking about something that’s really more his space and he says, “I think we should do this.” I’ll just say, “Okay. Yeah, man. We’ll do that.” And it always works out. So.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. And I think me being the older sister that she’s always used to me bossing her around anyway. So, it’s natural.

 

Jason Heflin:

And Chad probably rolls his eyes a lot at some of the things I say, but yeah, I get really more touchy, feely and spiritual about things. I’ll be like, “I don’t feel like this client wants that.” And he’ll be like, “But what evidence do you have to show that?” And I’m like, “I just got a feeling, man.”

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yes, that is me and Amber. And she does this thing too where she’ll be like, “You have a call coming up,” and then she won’t tell me when the call starts, but 10 minutes after the call starts, she’ll be like, “Weren’t you supposed to be on a call 10 minutes,” I’m like, “Why didn’t you tell me 10 minutes ago?”

 

Jason Heflin:

And she’s like, “Look at your calendar.” Yeah.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I know. I’m like, “Why?”

 

Jason Heflin:

I know. I know.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:41:37].

 

Jason Heflin:

It’s people and their organization.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah, I know.

 

Jason Heflin:

Love you, Chad.

 

Chad Webb:

I know. So I think we’re coming to the end of our time. I think we’ve covered majority of the questions I had on the list here. Was there anything you want to talk about? Anything you want to mention, make sure we get in here?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I think that I… well, I want to say thank you to CrowdSouth, not only for the work that you’ve done, but the people you’ve introduced me to, and even for this opportunity to share. I think that knowing a lot of people can really help you know a lot of things and people… don’t be scared, right, to do anything. Just do it. Say yes. I love to say yes. I’m a yes person. And I think that’s what you got to be-

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

… when you’re starting a business. But definitely, don’t be afraid of failure. I mean, even if everything went up in flames today, it was such a good experience. It is a good experience.

 

Chad Webb:

Yeah, absolutely. If someone wanted to reach out to you, how can they get in touch with KHIT?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

So, we’re on Facebook and LinkedIn. Katie Hutchinson is also on LinkedIn. And then [email protected] We have a website that’s beautiful. It has a Contact page on there.

 

Chad Webb:

Shameless plug.

 

Jason Heflin:

There we go.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. And so, I’m also on Facebook. I joined for my campaign run and then stayed when I won. So, you can always reach out to me there as well. And I’m on Instagram, but you’ll never find me [crosstalk 00:43:14]-

 

Rachel Kirby:

Oh.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

… because I’m under my maiden name. Not on purpose.

 

Jason Heflin:

Is your handle, let’s see, kitknitter?

 

Katie Hutchinson:

That’s it.

 

Jason Heflin:

I have to dispel, I have to ask you one last question. You’re in the IT space, do you like Star Trek? Is that just a…

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah. No, I can’t stand Star Trek.

 

Jason Heflin:

There you go. So we just dispelled that every IT person like Star Trek.


Katie Hutchinson:

But I also have a super short attention span, so I really only like watching trailers for shows. And I could spend all day watching movie trailers. It’s my [inaudible 00:43:50] because they’re two and a half minutes, and that’s exactly my attention span.

 

Jason Heflin:

I don’t want to invest in that whole movie thing. Yeah. I get it.

 

Rachel Kirby:

The equivalent of reading three chapters of a book.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yes. Yeah.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yes. Yes. That’s what it is. I can pretty much guess what’s going to happen. Yeah.

 

Jason Heflin:

We’re very similar personality [crosstalk 00:44:06].

 

Rachel Kirby:

Watched the trailer, “That was a good movie.” Yeah.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

And my husband hates watching trailers too. So he’s like, “I don’t want to see it because it’ll spoil it.” [crosstalk 00:44:15].


Rachel Kirby:

Yup.

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Have you ever watched the Honest Trailers on YouTube? It’s a YouTube channel.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

No.

 

Jason Heflin:

Watch it.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Do I need to watch that?

 

Jason Heflin:

Yeah. Somebody narrates over the trailer and basically tells you what’s really happening, and it’s hilarious.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I’m going to have to watch that.

 

Jason Heflin:

All right. Yeah, make a note.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

Yeah, I’m writing a note now, Honest Trailer. Yup. Those are my favorite things to watch, and SNL skits because I don’t watch SNL anymore, but I still love that show, so [inaudible 00:44:43] online. But your five minutes double my attention span, but if it’s 20, I can get through it.

 

Jason Heflin:

Awesome. Well, thanks so much for your time today.

 

Chad Webb:

Yes, thank you, Katie.

 

Rachel Kirby:

Thank you.

 

Katie Hutchinson:

I appreciate it. It was so much fun. Thank you.

 

Jason Heflin:

Alrighty.

 

Chad Webb:

Absolutely.

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By Chad Webb

Chad Webb (who is 40) is one of CrowdSouth’s Partners and brings years (not quite 40) of experience managing multi-million dollar website projects to your business. He loves hoodies, puffy vests, jeans and flip flops.

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