Katrina Pfannkuch – StartUp FoCo Podcast

Katrina is a creative catalyst, an empath, and a writer. She’s a creative’s creative and the founder of Creative Katrina.

You can check out Katrina’s Startup Week panel: Find the Root of Creative Blocks and Learn to Break Free on Thursday February 28th, 2:00pm-3:00pm @ The Articulate.

Let’s get to know Katrina!

I’m Katrina Pfannkuch and I’m the owner of Creative Katrina. What I’m passionate about is using my professional writing skills and my coaching skills to help people tap into where they need to grow in their own life so they can be more successful in their business.

I know that sounds nebulous, but in essence, I’m helping support business owners on their transformational journey. The cool part is that as a professional writer, I can help them with the content part and then as a coach I can help them with the mindset part and the two of them go together really nicely.

Do you find that it’s more useful to start creative coaching early on in the business vs later on in the business?

A lot of people, when they’re starting out, feel stuck and that’s a mindset, right? If you can shift that mindset in the beginning and get more clarity, then you’re using your creative energy towards the things that you really want to build rather than deconstructing a lot of stuff at the same time.

When you’re building something, we can work on that. If you need to deconstruct, we can work on that too. But the sooner you get in the game, it becomes clear what you need first.

What would you say to a business that doesn’t necessarily associate themselves with a creative industry? Can they still use your services?

Every entrepreneur needs to be creative in their own business. Whether it’s how they’re approaching their marketing, the way they connect with their clients, the way that they want to present their services, or even just how they create the services they offer.

Each of those have a creative element and even when you have an entrepreneurial spirit, sometimes it just feels unnatural for people to get that creative juice going. We can connect with each other in a way that shines a light on where you may be stuck and to me, there’s always a creative solution. Creativity is an option in all elements of a business.

What’s been your toughest creative challenge so far to tackle?

Creative people will ask, “Am I really doing something that someone wants? Is there a value in my creativity?”

Your heart breaks a little when you hear that because you want people to feel really authentic in expressing themselves. That’s a process for everyone. For entrepreneurs across the board, there’s always an area where they don’t feel they are enough or that they can’t authentically express themselves without either having to put on a show or fall in line with what everyone else is doing.

That’s a struggle for a lot of entrepreneurs, me as well. I sometimes feel I should be on social media more, but I eventually remember I’m just very selective about how I do that. Every business is different.

When it comes to creative challenges, who’s just smashing it out of the park in terms of Northern Colorado businesses?

I don’t think there are really enough eyes on creative businesses. I don’t necessarily see many people asking, “Who are the really creative, talented people here in the community that are doing a breadth of different stuff?”

How can a musician influence your business even though you don’t have anything to do with music? Maybe you need a jingle or maybe you need just some inspiration.

I recently met a coach that helps people write little mantras through songs. He plays music and they make up a little mantra just to help coach them through whatever challenge they’re working through, it’s an amazing idea.

Unfortunately, that’s in Boulder, not Fort Collins, but there are opportunities for creative crossover that I don’t think we’re leveraging as well as we could. In essence, that’s just the communities that we’re sorted in to: you’re a creative person, you go over here, you’re a business person, you go over here. Well, that’s not helping creative people thrive as businesses or business owners thrive creatively and I’d like to see more crossover.

Beyond cross-collaboration, what do you see as the biggest challenge for small businesses in Northern Colorado?

Networking. People are afraid to do that. Sometimes those communities are contained and it’s not that you can’t intermingle, but the feeling is there are very few events that I can go to that are a mix of both business and creative things and creative people and business people together.

I would suggest if you’re in a position where you’re feeling bored, why don’t you start a new event? Create one of your own. We need more diversity in the way that business owners and creative people are connecting with the community.

Many creative business owners are multipotentialites or active across a number of different fields. How do you get a client like that to settle down and focus?

We work on a unique process that works for their lifestyle. For some people, I ask, “Are there certain days of the week that you focus on certain things?”

It’s one of the simplest things that multipotentialites can do right now.

For example on Mondays, I write my own blog content, work on my own podcast, editing, do all of that stuff for myself. I don’t take client meetings, whereas other days of the week I schedule and plan for that.

If someone has multiple talents, which means as a result that they’re meeting with a variety of people and doing lots of different spaces, first I ask, “Are all of these skills viable and how do they fit together?” We create that picture, that clarity first, and then we set up a way for them to integrate it in practical terms.

It must be a little bit draining as a creative yourself to constantly help fuel other creatives’ creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from to help your clients?

I love yoga. I do a lot of yoga, walking, nature, and animals.

I created a podcast: Flirting With Enlightenment. It’s a creative expression of mine where I get to really connect with who I am and what I want to say.

It’s awesome when I look at the numbers; I realize people really listen to the podcast and that’s awesome. There’s a certain love in that when you’re creating something that someone else shows love by listening to it.

All the different options for creating content can be overwhelming. Creating a podcast for a lot of people is a big project because there’s so much stuff that goes into it. How do you sort of get past those creative blocks and guide them to a content or a medium that works?

Part of what I do is not just listen to the words that are coming out of someone’s mouth, but also actively listening: what are their facial expressions as they’re talking, what excites them versus when do they look deflated. Some of this is the intuitive work that I do.

There are so many tools and options. I help you pick the right ones where you know that you can shine right now. You don’t have to do everything, but where do you have a propensity to really get excited about doing something or really enjoy doing something. Start there and let’s work a plan so you can really connect in that space.

There is a limitation of what one human physically can do. There are only so many hours in a day.

What resources do you like to recommend for creative or small business owners that are just looking to get started or getting more knowledgeable about adding creativity into their processes?

I would say read my blog because I’ve been writing about creativity for years.

I’m not trying to promote myself specifically, but I do write about how to overcome specific obstacles. There’s the creativity piece that matches directly with your mindset piece and if you aren’t really tuned into how your mind works and how to get yourself relaxed, it’s really hard to tap into the creative piece unless you’re in that late night manic inspiration mode.

When you’re like, “I’m super inspired. I’m going to do everything right now,” that works sometimes. You don’t have to do a lot of work to get there, but if you want that consistency, it definitely helps to develop a mindset. “Okay, I’m going to do a little meditation, I’m going to listen to some music, I’m going to build a little routine about it.”

The tricky thing that I love, I don’t like being stuck into a schedule and that’s why crafting a schedule that you know works for you is so empowering as a creative person because you’re willingly stepping into this and not feeling resentful of having to do it in someone else’s way.

I am not an advocate for waking up at five in the morning, but maybe that works for some people. There’s a different way for everyone to craft a schedule.

There’s a time and a place for everything that you haven’t gotten to yet and it’s called 4:00 AM.

Yes. I’m generally pretty asleep by then.

What would you say to a small business owner just getting started? What would your number one piece of advice be?

Observation and listening. You already know in your heart the things that you’re excited about and what you want to do. Start going out into the community and ask, “Who else is doing what I’m interested in doing? How do they talk about what they do? How can I connect with it? Is it necessarily doing the exact same thing but has a support service or has worked with similar folks?” I want to say in a way it’s not necessarily shadow them but sort of from a distance and see, “Okay, well if I was going to be them for a day and do all the things that they do, is that feel good for me? Is this something that I’m interested in doing?” I feel like that goes a long way with sort of shadowing someone before you have to jump in with both feet because I know that I’m probably not the only person here that has tried other things before I came to do what I’m doing now, like we all have to put our feet … Get our feet wet and figure out some things and observation and listening is the best way to do that because it helps you get a little bit farther ahead than just going forward and not really having a lot of perspective.

The SBDC, the LCBD, the SVA, they all recommend having certain documents. What would you say to a business owner who’s just like, “I don’t like doing it that way. I’m not going to do it that way. I don’t need that document. I don’t have it. I’m just not going to do it”.

Those resources are great because they give you all the things and then you get to pick what works for you and maybe something that doesn’t work right now, six months from now you’re ready because you’ve gone through the process. You’ve gotten straight and clear in your head about like, “Okay, I’ve tried it my way. Maybe I do need a little extra support” and honestly, timing really is everything because when we’re fighting something, there may be a fear underneath that that we don’t realize is there and that’s what’s creating that pushback for us or a really old pattern that we’re stuck in our head about that we don’t realize is there and having a little time with it can certainly support that. But I would absolutely suggest when it comes to legal documentation and setting up your business, you definitely want to be right about that. You don’t what to mess around with the paperwork because they can come back to bite you.

When helping develop creative processes for small business owners, how do you keep them focused on some of the boring tasks?

There are obviously ways that you can outsource some of that stuff. Like for me, I love my bookkeeper. She’s the best human in my life because I do not want to do any of that stuff. But at first I had to do it myself because I didn’t have the funds to support someone to do that. So I think when you’re in that space and you can look at your budget and say, “Okay, there are a few things that maybe it would be best that someone else can help me with or do for a short period of time or just in on-going in the future, that’s when we’d look at it”. But in reality, I think it’s really important for all business owners, whether you’re a creative person or doing like straight up business stuff that you have to really look at having your fingers in all parts of your own business.

Because let’s say I never checked in with my bookkeeper, she can be doing all sorts of stuff. Like you can’t be that hands off. You need a base understanding of how all the pieces of your business work and when I invite people to look at it that way, it’s like, “Hey, you have options”. Like we’re all different as business owners, so it’s really important to identify what that stress is behind that thing and then find a way to deal with it. It’s just we often just get caught up in the feeling and the emotion of it and that we don’t even know why we’re blocking it out or neglecting it.

Who are you paying attention to in the Northern Colorado community in terms of their creative capacity?

I love Franklin Taggart. He’s so lovely and he’s agreed creative resource I think for not only the community because he works at the Loveland Business Development Center, but just because he has a lot of really great perspective and he can support people in that way. I would also say that Patrick, at the articulate. He’s very multitalented and he’s also trying to openly create a community where creatives or fellow creatives can be together and just shine and doing what they do and being next to each other doing it. I think that and of itself like spaces where we can teach and learn together or be together with other creatives is an expression of the most creative thing that we can do in this community.

Which leads us right into startup week. So tell us about your panel for startup week.

Well, I submitted a topic on breaking free from those limitations in our mindset. Like how do we break through those creative blocks? We don’t always know if they’re from our mindset, if they’re from emotions that are stuck within our hearts that we don’t see or they’re just a fear there. So the presentation I’m going to be giving has a little workbook with it and I’m going to help people sort of change their perspective on how they see where they’re stuck and why. Because when we get too hung up on our minds about it, we don’t move forward or as if we can embrace and look at the block in a different way, it might open up in a whole idea and understanding that we didn’t realize was already there.

What are you most excited about in terms of startup week?

I love the topics this time round. There’s a lot of really good niche-related topics, especially when it comes to the artistic parts of things.

Any last things that you want to tell a small business owner or a creative in our community?

I’m excited for you. If you’re in the space where you’re ready to learn something and explore more of who you are and share that with the rest of us, we’re excited to meet you. So come out to startup week, connect with us, learn, ask questions, and just be part of the community that you want to learn and grow from.

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