Hey everyone…it’s Amy and I’m so excited to announce our Entrepreneur of the Month! She’s incredible and is going to share the details with you about her road to success.
As you know, I believe it’s important to acknowledge female entrepreneurs that make a difference through their products and services and Ms. Agatha Kulesza does. Not only does she make a difference in her business but she also makes a difference outside her business, volunteering and contributing her time to causes she believes in.
Agatha Kulesza was born in Poland. Her parents moved the family to the USA when she was 3 years old and she grew up in New Jersey. She received her BBA in Accounting from James Madison University in Virginia.
After college, Agatha relocated to Los Angeles and worked in public accounting at Deloitte & Touche, one of the Big Four firms. One year in corporate America made her realize she had the entrepreneurial itch so she left Deloitte and started her own business called AGATHA K, LLC.
After almost a decade of being in business, her company has grown to serve a strong client base coast to coast. Agatha’s clients have ranged from small catering start-ups to $5 Billion hedge funds, so she has seen it all when it comes to how people handle their money.
In 2010 she added a personal finance division to her business and is now revealing all her trade secrets to the world through her first online course, 6 Week Money Mojo. She is also writing her first book, a tell-all memoir called Sweaty Armpit Duct Tape Girl, which documents her rise from a deeply insecure and miserable child into a self loving and successful adult.
When most people meet Agatha, they tell her she is not the “typical” accountant. Although she may not come across like your usual bean counter, she does bring a huge amount of passion, expertise, and knowledge to her work. Her philosophy is that if you have power over your money, you have power over your life. And that is her number one goal in the world – to help people have a complete and powerful handle on their finances so that they can focus on enjoying life, rather than worrying about money.
What I love about Agatha is her heart. It shows in everything she does. She volunteers regularly with homeless, animals, kids…giving back is very important to her. She goes out of her way for people.
I am so happy to have Agatha as our entrepreneur of the month because she exemplifies a Totally Fabulous Female in every way. And today, she is going to share her entrepreneurial journey with us!
If you’d like to hear our LIVE interview, download the MP3 HERE
Interview Questions for Entrepreneur of the Month
1. What is the name of your company?
Agatha K, LLC
2. What is your business?
It’s an accounting and financial coaching firm. We have 2 divisions: A business services division that provides a part time CFO and bookkeeping services for medium sized companies. And our other division is the personal finance division that offers real world financial education to individuals.
3. Who is your target market?
My Target Market is women ages 22-45 on the personal finance side that are in any kind of financial transition (just got a divorce, just got a new job, just lost a job, etc..). On the business finance leg, it’s companies that have been in biz for 3-5 years and have at least $1 million in annual gross profits
4. Why did you start your business? (needed money, passionate about the cause, etc.).
I started out in corporate accounting at one of the big 4 public accounting firms and I hated it, so I went to work for myself to have the freedom and flexibility that comes with that.
5. How did you get started? (Did you raise money, bootstrapping: credit card, one step a time…tell us the story of how you built your business)
I bootstrapped it…my first client was a mold removal company in Santa Monica that I found on Craiglist. I charged them peanuts per hour, but I was just starting out so it was the best way to get my foot in the door. I worked very hard there to learn the ropes and do a good job. From there, I added more clients that I usually found on Craiglist. Once my clients saw I was doing a great job, they referred me to other people. So after a while, word of mouth spread so quickly, I had to start turning down clients.
6. How has having your own business changed your life?
It has given me the freedom of choice: Choice about who I work with, my schedule, how much money I want to make, etc.. It also helped me evolve a lot as a person because as an entrepreneur, I am always being pushed outside my comfort zone.
7. What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
The constant growth and learning…it pushes my boundaries on a daily basis and I am never bored. Also, the freedom to create whatever I want and have whatever kind of schedule I want is fantastic!!
8. What do you like least?
It gets lonely. I don’t have a business partner, so sometimes it feels like I am all alone in the big abyss, just trudging away at making my dreams come true.
9. Is being an entrepreneur something that comes naturally to you or something that you learned?
A bit of both…my father was an entrepreneur for 20 years, so growing up around it, I became naturally inclined with a strong desire to create my own path in my career. Sales came naturally to me as well because I don’t approach sales with the “gotta sell this person on me” attitude. Instead, I’ve always just connected with people and told them what I do. Once they see my confidence in what I do and my ability to connect with them like a real human being, the sale just came easily. The part that did not come naturally to me was delegating. When you are trying to build your business, no matter what size, it’s really hard to do everything alone. I am a very detail oriented person, so for a while I was scared to get help from anyone, fearing the work they did would never be as good as the work I do. And I don’t mean I was scared to get help with client work. I feared getting administrative help for fear the person would not be able to answer emails to my standards, etc… It’s taken me a long time to let go of all of that and just learn to be a good leader that gives very clear notes when I assign other tasks to people. And, WOW, business is so much easier when you have help!
10. Who do you admire, look up to and/or model yourself after?
I admire Jack Canfield. I know he came from a family where he was always told negative things about success and money, and he was able to somehow mentally re-program himself from that and become a huge success. That is no easy feat and something I have battled with throughout my life as well. He actually seems genuinely happy too, which I find very inspiring. Who cares how much success or money you have if you are miserable!
11. Who are your mentors; the people who support you: coaches, cheerleaders, role models, etc.
Amy was my coach for 3 years and she still is a huge cheerleader of mine; Anytime I have a question or need support, she is always there for me. I also have a core group of great females friends that are incredibly supportive and would literally drop everything at the drop of a hat if I needed them. It’s the kind of close friendships I have wanted my entire life and sometimes I can’t even believe how fortunate I am. Also, my 16 year old sister constantly reminds me tht I am a great role model for her, so that makes me feel very happy and supported.
12. Share your scariest moment in business with us?
Right now!! 2010 has been my scariest year by far. This was the year of new ventures for me; I launched my first online course called “6 Week Money Mojo” and also am writing my first book, “Sweaty Armpit Duct Tape Girl: a Memoir”. Up until now,my business has mainly been local, but now that I have online classes and a book coming out, it exposes me to the world. It’s so exciting, but I honestly am scared everyday. I put my entire heart and guts into these projects, so it’s scary to put it out there. It’s kinda like you just gave birth and you are now sending your baby into the world.
13. Share your best moment in business with us?
One of the best moments I’ve had was the moment I decided to write my book. When I was 13 years old, I stuck duct tape to my armpits everyday for 6 months. I had overactive seat glands and was too ashamed to tell anyone about it, so I taped up my pits instead to barricade the perspiration. This type of self loathing is common during adolescence; but it stayed with me well into early adulthood. I was too scared and insecure to reveal my true self or vulnerability to anyone. As a result, I felt alone and miserable. It took me a long time and lots of hard work to change that and accept myself for who I was, warts and all. So, the great moment I had was when I actually gave a speech about my Sweaty Armpit Duct Tape Girl experiences to a packed room of people. The speech was straight from my heart: I cried, I laughed and I showed my true self. I did it with no fear of what they might think of me. And…they all cried too and welcomed me with open arms and thanked me for being brave enough to share my story. What I did no realize before that moment is, we all have a bit of Sweaty Armpit Duct Tape Girl inside of us. We all have a part of us that feels scared and vulnerable. I realized that by telling people that I was once insecure and paralyzed by fear, and found a way out of it, I gave them hope to find their way out of their personal demons too. And that was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had. To be able to turn all of that pain that plagued me for so long into something positive and meaningful. That’s when I decided to write a book and share my story with the world, to hopefully inspire others to fully accept themselves too.
14. What is the best piece of advice you can give aspiring entrepreneurs today?
Make sure you are in love with being an entrepreneur; so in love that you really have no other choice. It has so many benefits, but those benefits come with lots of challenges and sacrifices. Like I said before, you are constantly being pushed outside your comfort zone. Although the road is extremely rewarding, it’s not the easiest road to take in life. It’s not for everyone and the amount of work you have to put into it will only be worth it if you truly love it.
15. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I am going to give props to Amy here because she gave me a piece of advice that changed my life. She taught me that there are always trade-offs in life. If you want “a”, then you may have to give up “B”, at least temporarily. When I first started working with Amy, I was in $30,000 of credit card debt at the age of 27 and I was only making about $3,200 a month. I was so frustrated that I was somehow able to help all of my bookkeeping clients be good and prosperous with their money, but I was not able to help myself. Well, Amy made me realize that the reason I could not help myself was that I was not willing to put in the work and sacrifices to do that. For example, if I wanted to pay down my debt, I may have to work more and go out less, spend less and save more and be willing to make sacrifices and stick to my goal. So, I took her words to heart and instituted all the same money tactics for myself that I had used for my clients and within 4 months, my income shot up to $10,000 a month and I was so good about saving, that I paid off all of my debt in only 18 months. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to know that I made a goal, stuck to it and did it all on my own. I kept my word to myself in a way I had never done before! Since then, my life has never been the same. I approach every goal the same way, and sometimes, I discover that my goal is not worth the sacrifices I have to make, so I re-adjust it. That’s all part of the learning process for me.
16. What are your future plans? Your vision? (can be personal and/or business)
My vision is to inspire others to be their best self. I’m not sure what form that will take over the next few years. I definitely want to be a speaker, I love speaking and connecting with people. I also want to have more free time so I can focus on philanthropy because the joy I get from helping people, animals or the planet, is like none other.
17. Do you have any products or services that you are launching right now that you can tell us about?
I just launched an online course called, “6 Week Money Mojo”. It’s a home study course that is designed to teach people what it takes, both mentally and emotionally, to take charge of your money. I firmly believe that when you have the power over your money, you have power over your life.
18. How can we get in touch with you?
www.agatha-k.com for info on my financial products and to sign up for my free money tips newsletter. For a sneak peak at my book, join my fan page on Facebook, www.sweatyarmpitgirl.com or you can email me at email@example.com.
Thank You: Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Agatha. Your success is inspiring!!
To Your Success,
If you believe that you or someone you know provides incredible value to their customers and or to the community around them and want to be considered as our Entrepreneur of the Month, please fill out an application here and submit it to us. Should you be selected, you or your friend will be featured in our newsletter and on our website, www.amyapplebaum.com.