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Katrina Purcell Is Providing Startups and Nonprofits With Operational Excellence. Here’s How.

Katrina Purcell's headshot

Original Photo Credit: Alice Prenat for Portrait Madame studio

Katrina Purcell, the Founder of Katrina Purcell LLC, is a beacon of tenacity and resilience in the realm of operational strategy.

With a background honed through pivotal career experiences—including navigating an IPO and a Series B fundraise—Katrina recognized her passion lay in empowering underrepresented entities. Her venture serves as a catalyst for nonprofits and tech startups seeking operational excellence without the exorbitant costs. Leveraging her fractional COO expertise, Katrina meticulously crafts five-year scaling plans and mentors business owners, enabling them to actualize their aspirations while fostering efficient growth strategies in an increasingly competitive funding landscape.

We asked Katrina about the founding story behind her company, what she’s learned about building a support network, and how she would describe her journey thus far.

Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Katrina Purcell LLC? 

As my skill set grew over the course of my career, I realized that perhaps my passion was better suited through service to minority-led organizations, nonprofits, and those who may not have access to such services at a reasonable cost. Though my work provided value to the larger organizations I had served and I learned pivotal information from my time there, my heart has always been with the underdog. Through my time undergoing an IPO process and a Series B fundraise, it became evident that my operational skills were likely exactly what many companies needed as the funding market grew tighter, shifting the desire for efficient growth metrics rather than mere growth for the sake of growing. I personally assist in creating the roadmap for scaling and growth. Then I mentor the people within the organization so they are achieving their own goals by perpetuating the plan. 

In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?

Growing up, I was always encouraged to be my best self—no matter what that looked like. I relentlessly studied to get good grades throughout my schooling. I never sat back and went for what was easy. Setting audacious goals for myself has been a fundamental part of my being for as long as I can remember. I signed up for a half-distance Ironman triathlon before I even knew how to swim properly. I give all of myself to complete my goals, working tirelessly to achieve what I know is possible. Even when I fail, it’s a chance to learn and attack the problem with a new perspective. My best will never be an option; it’s the only outcome.

What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Lacking confidence in how much revenue I would make. I set up a corporate structure, which limited my optionality due to the actual scale of my business. It took me the assistance of a CPA to realize I needed to reevaluate and make changes. A month of work and logistics later, I solved the problem. The irony is that I always tell my clients to set stretch goals rather than hide behind comfortable metrics. I’m cognizant that if I fall short, it’s only my fault. I forgot for a moment that my abilities were in demand and I can achieve great things.    

I personally assist in creating the roadmap for scaling and growth. Then I mentor the people within the organization so they are achieving their own goals by perpetuating the plan. 

What resources or people have contributed the most to your successes?

My Columbia business school network has been instrumental in launching my business. My classmates provided immeasurable support by being a sounding board, opening their networks to me, and providing client introductions. My family has stepped up to help me wherever their individual skills have allowed. My mother is aiding in marketing, my father in prospecting research, and my sister in editing and helping me compose articles to present myself accurately. My husband encourages me to reach for my dreams while helping me stay grounded and uses his technological prowess to create and maintain my website.

Connecting to women at networking events illuminated a whole new avenue I didn’t realize I needed to transverse. It led me to find opportunities like Dreamers & Doers, which has opened a new conduit to people tackling the same challenges I’m facing. This network has allowed my resource pool to grow even more.

What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?

Starting your own company can be very isolating. Seeking out a strong support system with people who understand the challenges is key to getting through the more difficult times. While your family and friends wholeheartedly support you, they may not know the specific challenges you are facing, and therefore cannot give solid advice. I’ve learned to attract people who have gone through, or are currently going through, similar experiences so we can support each other. Much like you would have a training group when training for a race, I find it valuable to have a company building group to live the shared experience.

What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

Don’t let society determine what success is for you. Stop wasting time and energy trying to achieve a predefined notion of accomplishment that doesn’t make your heart soar. Redefine what your journey should be based only on what you want to achieve. Your impact on this world is defined by what you do and how you help others, not by how high you get on the career ladder. Celebrate each milestone as you build the life you want. Your timing is perfect as you create the life you deserve. Don’t let anyone make you feel less for going after what you know you can achieve.

Stop wasting time and energy trying to achieve a predefined notion of accomplishment that doesn’t make your heart soar.

How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?

My journey has been a jungle gym, and I would definitely do it all over again. I trusted in mentors and sponsors who believed in me—at times more than I believed in myself. They guided me to new opportunities, and I always said yes. There are tweaks I could have made to get to launching my own company earlier. However, I would have missed out on pivotal experiences that have shaped how I view the world and company operations.

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