#MontanaBoss Friday: Kira Stoops from Flying Bicycle Creative

#MontanaBoss Jan 15.jpg

Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

I'm Kira Stoops of Flying Bicycle Creative. I provide creative strategy to marketing firms and ad agencies. Basically, I build the deeper brand, the hardworking messaging strategy, and the communication concepts that go underneath the glossy designs and cute commercials and sleek websites that the agencies create.

How did you start your boss lady journey?

I graduated from college summa cum laude and immediately hated "real life." I hated 9am because I couldn't wake up; I hated 5pm because I was just getting started. I hated trying to juggle my health issues in an office environment, I hated meetings where I wasn't allowed to doodle, I hated myself for not being "normal" and more grateful for my ad agency gig.

It eroded my self esteem to the point I stopped showering, trying, or caring. Meanwhile, I was reading a get-rich-quick book about freelance writing (and in retrospect, a godawful one), and started toying with the idea as a way out.

I hated 9am because I couldn’t wake up; I hated 5pm because I was just getting started.

One Friday, my boss gave me an ultimatum to buck up or ship out. I thought about that incredibly cheesy book and decided to do it. I packed up my desk that Monday with no plan, no computer, no savings, a whole lot of 25 year old chutzpah.

Within a week, I had a business name and a dilapidated laptop, within two weeks, a client, and within four months I was stable. I was horrible at having a job. But I quickly found out I was really, really good at being an indy contractor.

Have you gone full-time with your business?

Flying Bicycle is my only gig and it supports me fully, but I am adamantly against a 40-hour workweek. But...I think about work while I ski, cook, clean, hike...so how much do I really "work?"

For me it doesn't make sense to try to divide work and life; I'm happier when I can work while muffins are baking in the oven.

Okay, let's talk about the DNA behind Flying Bicycle. Were you one of those women with entrepreneurship basically in your blood that we always hear about?

Haha yes, I have always been one to run things the way I want them run.

I’m happier when I can work while muffins are baking in the oven.

How do you build an income and a life through Flying Bicycle?

I am almost 100% serviced-based work. This past year I did outsource and markup some local writers and tried to get in the habit of charging for value versus hours.

What do you LOVE about being your own boss?

I own all of my time. I work when I'm fired up—on projects that are meaningful to me. I ski if there's powder. If it's sunny and I can't sit still, I get out for awhile, then work at night. I come up with a lot of work ideas when I'm outside...try selling that to a "real" boss. 
I used to take a full month off every year to travel—to Mexico, New Zealand, driving around the West to see my grams—I need to bring that back.

What was your most expensive mistake?

Probably staying a sole-proprietorship for so long. I could have saved a few thou on taxes every year had I paid my taxes as an S-Corp. After 8 years in business, that adds up.

What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

The things they think will be hard. They freak out over taxes and getting business bank accounts and what their clients will think about x and getting their website right and Facebook. But that's not what's hard. You figure that stuff out pretty quickly...then you get to the real tough stuff, which is going to be different for every business and person.

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

I started my business because security makes me uncomfortable. It's the surprising opportunities that keep it fresh. So I'll be a bit vague and just say, continuing to do higher-level strategy work for clients who make a huge difference in the world, and making more than enough money doing it.

How would you define a Boss Lady?

If you ask yourself, "who's your boss?" and point to yourself, you're a boss lady.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

Not sure what advice I'd give myself in year one, but I will give some advice to the other first years: don't try to get things perfect before you roll. Just roll already.

When I started my business, I didn't own a computer, I didn't have internet service, I didn't have a website, I didn't have savings or a safety net of any kind. Starting out, I did any kind of ad work possible for anyone—from graphic design to copywriting to PR. In your first year, flying-by-the-seat of your pants lets you try out things without committing. Had I created an entire website around offering graphic design, I would have shot myself in the foot when I realized Bozeman really needed more copywriting.

If you ask yourself, “who’s your boss?” and point to yourself, you’re a boss lady.

The stuff you think you "need" is the stuff that keeps you from ever getting started. You figure out what you really need as you go. I finally got my first "real" website done last year, after 7 years of being in business. Year three was fun—enough experience to start getting projects I loved and letting the bread-and-butter ones I didn't love go.

How about year 7? Get ready for a seven year itch. If you love owning a business, you love starting new things. Don't think the things you love now will be the things you will always love; that once you get it dialed you'll be "set." You're an entrepreneur. You'll be bored. And it will be time for the next scary challenge. (Want to know what she's talking about? Read this post. It'll help you understand.)

Want to get in touch with Kira? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)