Multiple Contracts - Kym Keith
Kym Keith is a self-employed, portfolio careerist with a newly launched business called Stillwater Workplace Training that provides life skills and workplace training, instructional design and technical writing. With the recent launch of her business, Kym is streaming income from primarily contract workshop design and delivery for First Nations. She prepares each workshop according to client needs then delivers on site. Kym’s ability to custom tailor her workshops to suit the needs of the students is what she believes is the key to her success. She loves to create hands-on, relationship building activities that students can easily apply to life.
Kym launched her business in January while simultaneously studying in an entrepreneurial program at Douglas College that helped her start her business after being laid off. “To get accepted into the program I had to complete an orientation and create a business proposal outlining my business idea, market research, and target market to see if my idea was viable. After being accepted into the first part of the program, we learned how to write a business plan,” she continues. “The business plan went to a team of four people. They decided my proposal was realistic and I continued on to the remaining courses in sales and marketing, business law, accounting and business operations.”
Kym has a diverse background in education, with a Master’s degree. She has managed programs in Special Education and ESL, provided sessional instruction at a small university, launched an international student program, managed an Adult Literacy program, and has done instructional design and technical writing. Her years of experience in management, design and work with adults have prepared her well for her own business.
It was a combination of experience, passion to help people, her skill sets, good timing and networking that started her working with First Nation’s. “A week before I was laid off, I met with a friend who was going to be resigning to take a job with First Nations. She knew I had experience teaching life skills and workplace readiness and asked me if I would go onto the reserve and facilitate some life skills workshops. Afterwards, the manager on -site told me she was happy with my work and that my training was well received by the students. They called me back several times to facilitate. I just fell in love with working with First Nations. It is so rewarding when the students have those ‘aha’ moments or when they hug me and tell me that I have made a difference in the way they see something.”
Kym has additional skills that provide opportunity for her to grow her business: instructional design and technical writing. Over the years she has gained a reputation for writing good program funding proposals. “It’s the teacher in me that loves good writing and ensuring that what people write is what they mean.” She also does instructional design, creating training materials for companies. She has written on-boarding manuals, work search programs, banking curriculum, and respectful workplace workshops. However, her true passion is providing life skills and workplace training.
Kym chose to follow her entrepreneurial, pioneering roots rather than go back to a full-time job when she was laid off, because she felt it suits her better. “I love being my own boss and being responsible for my own success. I like making a difference. I like change. The idea of a 9-5 day drains me. I’d rather work longer hours and get something out of it at the end of the day." She does recognize that there are significant disadvantages to being self-employed. “It can get lonely if you don’t network and I’m consistently looking for new work. However, once my reputation is established, I feel I will have regular work. “
It hasn’t been easy. There have been weeks when she doesn’t have any work coming down the pipe and it looks like it may be a tough month. When I asked her what motivates her to keep going she said, “When I had exposure to First Nation’s people, I realized that I wanted to invest in people and not in the corporate world so that I could make a difference. There is nothing better than at the end of the day than thinking ‘I can’t believe I get paid to have so much fun’. To make a difference in the lives of people is rewarding and doesn’t feel like work. I had a gentleman come up to me last week and thank me for some things I had taught him. He told me it made such a difference in his life. He is now working full time and loves his job. I believe that I can build a business that is year round once I become known within the First Nation’s community.” She adds with a laugh, “Right now, I seem to freelance on a wing and a prayer.”
When I asked her what advice she would have to anyone venturing off into a self-employment, she said, “Make sure networking is something you enjoy or can learn to enjoy. Never burn a bridge and always be kind.”
Her business plan gave her focus and networking has provided the start she needed. She is still studying while she actively seeks out more work possibilities for Stillwater Workplace Training.