Catharine Symblème Made The Leap From a Toxic Work Environment To Starting Her Own Business, and Has No Regrets

Catharine SymblemeCatharine Symblème is a lifelong employee, who comes from a lineage of lifelong employees. But she just had to get out so she made the leap from wage slave, to a business owner at a really bad time in the economy, in a place where you would never expect her to succeed and she has made it a success. She just came out with a new book called the “Utter Morons Guide to Getting Online: How to Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in Two Hours a Day or Less” and it’s geared towards all those really small businesses out there in rural America who need a website and have no clue where to start.

Jasper: I’d like to welcome Catharine Symblème to the show, particularly because we’ve had an ongoing conversation over Google Plus for several weeks and it’s interesting especially for us because Catharine represents probably the typical sort of person we are trying to reach. She is just transitioning from employment to creating her own business and navigating the whole array of things you have to do to get yourself online.

Catharine: What I was doing before was, and I actually loved, adored my job, I worked at a local radio station, a nonprofit radio station KRZA here in Alamosa, Colorado, and you know typical nonprofit I wore several hats, one of them was being the morning host, I was also the underwriting coordinator and the music director and a bunch of things. The job itself I adored, I adored the staff, I adored most of our listeners. I had issues with the management, shall we say, and eventually it turned into kind of a toxic environment and it was really distracting. Now I can look back and thank her for inspiring me to make the leap, so to speak, but because I live in a rural area, good jobs are hard to come by – they are to come by everywhere but especially here in rural America.

I left the job in a huff (I do not recommend doing that), without really having planned what I was going to jump off to, but I kind of had this idea at the back of my head. I had a little deaf dog, a hearing impaired dog for a while and I thought, “I’ll try creating a website and I’ll try creating a dog walking business.” I looked around and didn’t see any dog walkers in town and thought, “Okay let’s get out and give this a try,” and that kind of didn’t go anywhere because people aren’t interested in that here. That led to an interest I’d had for a long time in blogging. I love to write and in February I started exploring that, after about a year and a half of trying the dog walking thing. That’s where I am now. I am learning about blogging.

Meredith: You just released a book on Kindle for businesses on how to get that first website without up spending a fortune. This is a personal rant of mine because I think people over think this and they spend so much time on their website. They need to have a website, but they don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on their first initial foray, because ultimately their business is going to morph and change and so it sort of doesn’t make sense. Can you tell us a little bit about your book and a little bit about the first steps that you would recommend somebody take when thinking about setting up a web presence for themselves?

Utter Morons Guide to Getting Online - book coverCatharine: The book is called the “Utter Morons Guide to Getting Online”. It’s how to build and maintain an online business presence in two hours a day or less. I know that small businesses owners – and business owners period – are busy people and most of the steps in this book will actually probably take less than two hours, but I didn’t want to lead people astray. Basically the model that I talk about in the book is setting up a blog on Blogger, its free, it’s hosted by Google, it gives you some nice Google “juice” in terms of getting found on Google and Google searches, and it takes you through the steps of how to really optimize your blog page, so that your customers can find you – how to set up your social media, how to schedule your social media, how to get your social media and your blog talk to each other, so you’re not having to do all that, or having to remember to do all that manually.

In rural areas there tends to be a lot of resistance to change I think is part of what is going on. They think, “Oh we’ve done traditional word of mouth forever and we think that’s the only thing that works,” and everybody knows everybody and so they don’t really see the benefits of generating new leads, if you want to call it that. That’s part of what is going on. Part of it I suspect is the, “Oh my God I’m too busy I can’t do that, I don’t have time to do all the social media and stuff, I can’t really afford to pay anybody so I’m going to have my neighbor’s teenager build me something that looks like, some horror movie.” Meanwhile, 10 years ago when they put the website up they were running restaurants in Dennison and now they’ve moved to Alamosa and they are running a bike shop and their website meanwhile is still advertising their $5.99 specials on Wednesday nights.

Jasper: One of the useful things about your approach in terms of your book, especially as you say getting up and running in only two hours a day, is one of the things that we heavily preach is that if you are in a job that you may be unhappy with or you want something better, it’s far better to start as a sideline and build up slowly. Then eventually, hopefully, if that’s successful then the income from that will overtake the income from the job and then you can make a full time transition. Being able to have that sort of ability to create an online business presence in just a couple of hours a day makes a lot of sense for those people.

Catharine: Right, and it also gets them out of the habit of a “set it and forget it” mentality, which is not going to work in today’s online presence. You have to make it a discipline, make a habit of getting online pretty much every day, and just running through the mill of checking things. You are going to catch errors, and just getting in the habit of every day for a couple of hours checking in,  maintaining your website, doing your social media. Part of that is establishing that habit on a daily basis.

Meredith: How effective has your website been for you?

Catharine: Hard to say yet, it’s still pretty new.  The “Quit Your Job and Thrive” blog has only been up for I think about six months, but I am beginning to gain a little bit of attention.

Meredith: If somebody were really just starting out – they are just opening a pizza parlor in a new town –  what would be step one for them?

Catharine: I would say, get the blog going, make sure that your contact information is on there regardless of whatever else you do. A menu is good, make sure that you’ve got a few key words, in both your URL (which is the address that comes on top of the webpage, like, make sure you’ve got some kind of a location on there so if you are for instance Joe’s Pizza, Monterey Bay, California, make sure that Joe’s Pizza, Monterey is somewhere on your homepage. Even if that’s the only thing you do to start out, that’s getting the location and your contact information out is probably most important thing.

Favorite Book: The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D Wattles

Favorite Resource: Google Hangouts

Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest?  Click here to download it.

catharineGuest – Catharine Symblème – Symblème Services Online – Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO – and Author of The Utter Moron’s Guide to Getting Online: Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in 2 Hours a Day or Less

I’m a lifelong employee from a lineage of lifelong employees, who, inspired by a toxic work environment, made the leap from the wage slave treadmill at probably the worst possible time and place humanly possible: in a rural ghetto, during an economic depression But in spite of all the hardship, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. If I can do it, anybody can.

I just published a Kindle book called the Utter Moron’s Guide to Getting Online: Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in 2 Hours a Day or Less. It’s geared toward small business owners like those in my area who want to get online, but don’t have much time, have even less money, and many of them only have very basic computer skills.

My mission is to help small- and mid-sized business owners set up a low-cost initial online presence that is able to grow as the business grows. She does this through her book, by doing the setup for them, or (preferably) teaching them how to do it themselves. She also nurtures customer relationships by writing entertaining and informative web content and engaging on social media.

Inspired by her serial entrepreneur husband Ralph, Catharine abandoned the way of the wage slave in 2013 to start her own dog walking business, which promptly flopped. She then turned to her lifelong passion for writing and decided to make a go as a blogger. She developed and posts regularly on two blogs of her own:; two local business blogs:, and, and a nonprofit blog, She also manages the social media for all of her blogs, and is an occasional contributor to and

Catharine has been a professional classical flutist for over 20 years, including stints with the Santa Fe Opera and Santa Fe Pro Musica. Around 2002, she began branching out into jazz, Celtic, and other popular genres. Currently, she sings and plays assorted flutes and fiddle in a local multi-genre acoustic band named Forty Below.

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