Introducing Kate: Our Weekly Woman Entrepreneur

Kate’s passion for sports and fitness began over 20 years ago while watching her dad train for power lifting events and football games. Although always active, Kate spent much of her early adult years overweight.  In order to pursue her passion of baseball, Kate knew she needed to get in better shape to be able to make it through a nine inning game.  After losing 70 pounds Kate is proud to be the only female player in the men’s Midwest Suburban Baseball League.

What inspired you to start your own business?
The thing that inspired the inception of Go Hardball is what inspires the beginning of any new business: a need.  I was playing on a women’s baseball team and as one of the founding members I was asked to create a pre-season training program.  I was working closely on this project with my boyfriend Tony who was the coach at the time.  We were banging our heads against the wall trying to find other coaches to assist him and a facility to use with such a limited budget and 20 or more players that needed training.  Tony already had one business, but not in the baseball profession and was chomping at the bit to start one.  We were just waiting for the right opportunity and this was it!

On our first date I told Tony that it was my dream to have my own baseball facility.  I remember the look of awe on his face because unbeknownst to me it was his dream too.  To complete the task of creating a training program with extremely limited funds we looked to the network of players that Tony has known during his time playing with a local men’s amateur baseball league.  These experienced players would be able to help us provide quality training, with the respect and sensitivity that working with women sometimes demands.  Go Hardball was born.  In our minds this would achieve two objectives; it would give the team low cost quality training, and it would provide liability coverage for the non-professional coaches, Tony, myself and whatever facility we were using.

Three and a half years later we have moved away from our original demographic but are serving the athletes of a wonderful community, have brought on an additional partner, and are approximately 45 days away from opening our first dedicated facility!  We’re really excited about our future!

What do you wish you had known when you started your own business?

I wish that I’d known how rewarding it would be.  I would’ve started even earlier!  There’s nothing like driving to work over the highway overpass and looking at all of that terrible gridlocked traffic.  I know what it feels like to be wasting my time in traffic not wanting to be going where I was going.

What do you do or say when you feel like giving up?

When I feel like giving up I talk with one of my partners about what they’re dealing with.  The nice thing about having three of us is that if one or even two of us aren’t excited one of us always is and it reignites our passion for our business.  Another thing I do is watch one of my partners teaching a class or giving a lesson.  When I see how awesome my coaches are and how engaged and excited the kids can be I am able to really value all the heart aches and stress that we endure.

What is the best lesson you could give a young women who wants to start her own business?

There are two lessons that I would give;

Never believe you know everything.  The best way to halt your businesses growth is to stop learning.  There are new innovations and information in every industry and every industry is perpetually changing.  To stop learning and discovering new ways to bring about change and innovation will drastically shorten the life of your business.

Don’t pretend to have answers that you don’t really have. Your customers are the key to your future.  Customers will respect and appreciate it when you admit that you don’t know the answer, as long as you are willing to find out.  It will foster a sense of trust and allow your customers to see that you’re flexible, trustworthy and willing to learn and change for their benefit.

Do you have any funny, inspiring or noteworthy client or business anecdotes?

One of my favorite quotes about being an entrepreneur is by Rich Aberman, a co-founder of WePay and was featured in the May issue of Inc. Magazine;

Paul Graham says that good startup founders can be described in two words: relentlessly resourceful.   I agree, but I would add two words of my own: arrogant and naïve. Arrogant enough to get in the ring and naïve enough that you still think you will win after you feel the first punch.
So true!  As entrepreneurs we just keep getting right back in there, every time.  We take hits over and over again, feeling the pain that our businesses sometimes bring, but we don’t remember those quite as well as we do the times when we throw the final punch and win the fight.  I’m not sure if it’s tenacity or naivety, but it’s what makes us do what we do everyday.

Kate Mitchum

Vice President & Founder of Go Hardball


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