Entrepreneurial Lessons from Consultant and Writer, Kristi Willis

Tips & Stories

Entrepreneurial Lessons from Consultant and Writer, Kristi Willis

Posted by Taylor Pipes on 21 Nov 2015

Posted by Taylor Pipes on 21 Nov 2015

In support of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015, we are featuring conversations with authors, founders, leaders, and visionaries. We hope their insights and experience inspire you to propel your own ideas into action.

A creative technology consultant and writer, Kristi Willis helps her clients develop seamless workflows and best practices, create engaging learning and build thriving teams. She is as comfortable diagramming Evernote workflows on a whiteboard as she is programming an online learning module or facilitating a session on team trust. As passionate as Kristi is about technology, she’s equally zealous about food and is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and Austin Woman magazines.

We talked with Kristi about how she balances freelance writing and thoughts on finding inspiration for her next project.

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How did you make the leap to working as a freelance writer?

I started writing for a local magazine while I was still working full-time for a productivity consulting company. After a few years, I knew I wanted more time to write and do my own thing so I took the leap of faith.

What is the best information an entrepreneur or full-time freelance writer needs when they first start out?

This could be such a long list, but I’ll hit some of the basics. To protect yourself and make yourself more attractive as a vendor, incorporate and get liability insurance. Then, get a good set of tools with Evernote as the backbone. Finally, find your people whether that’s a great co-working space or connecting with a fellow like-minded entrepreneurs and freelancers. It can get lonely working on your own and having others to bounce ideas off of will help keep you motivated and creative.

What’s your process for taking an early idea and evolving it into something more?

I painted the back of my closet doors with dry erase paint, so if I’m at home I map out ideas and photograph them in Evernote. If I’m out and about, I either start brainstorming in Evernote or map my ideas in Skitch.

If you were starting a new venture today, what would be the first item on your to-do list?

Learn more about business development or find a great sales person. It is my Achilles heel.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I read voraciously and that sparks ideas that usually bubble up during my morning walk or commute.

What is the best advice/lesson you got from a mentor or leader?

If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing. You aren’t pushing yourself if you are comfortable. Sometimes I cringe as I sit in that uncomfortable place of stretch, but I know it’s true.

What drives you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I love solving problems, telling compelling stories and helping people be their best. My day has been a success if I have helped someone else shine.

Who are you following right now that is inspiring to you — authors, advisors, businesses or brands? Share some of the people doing exciting work that inspires you.

I’m a devoted follower of Daniel Pink, Seth Godin and Brene Brown – three very different people, but each inspiring in their own way. 99U is a brilliant resource for anyone, but particularly freelancers and entrepreneurs.

What’s in your toolkit? What are the resources you can’t do without?

The backbone of my toolkit is Evernote paired with Google Apps, Azendoo, Feedly, and Freshbooks. I use Skitch and Scannable regularly to capture information into Evernote and I couldn’t make it without my Evernote ScanSnap. I’m almost completely paperless now!

What was the last book you read?

I’m currently reading Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head. The comedians’ stories are fascinating and I love learning about other people’s creative process. I’m also reading Oz Clarke’s The History of Wine in 100 Bottles as part of my wine studies. Clarke has a clever and captivating way of explaining a complex topic.

Any parting advice for entrepreneurs that are just starting out?

It’s going to be harder than you think, but it’s going to be worth it, so stick with it. Remember, if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing.


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