An Interview with Liz Strauss – Founder of SOBCon

Scaling / May 14, 2012 / Admin

Liz Strauss is the founder of SOBCon, a social web strategist, and one of the most thoughtful, prolific bloggers on the planet.

1. What inspired you to start your own business?

The entrepreneur gene sweeps through my family. I think it’s hard for me not to be an entrepreneur. Most of the time when I was working in the corporate world, I was the one to come in and fix things that were broken, stay for a 5 years, and go out on my own to do more of a freelance type business..Then I’d go back in the corporate world once again, stay for five years, fix things and go back out on my own. I’ve been a start-my own business person all my life.

2. What was one of the biggest set backs you had to overcome? And what did you learn from it?

Fear. I think it’s the fear that you have to be there before people take you seriously. So the set-back was coming to understanding that you have to own it. If you want to take a tangible point I guess it would be the year I was looking what I was doing and if I was to give myself a grade I would have given myself a B. I can’t really ever say that I had a house fall on me, but I can say that there are plenty of times that I didn’t know what direction to take. Until I had to live up to my own standards and not wait for other people’s approval to change direction.

3. How did you grow your company? In other words, what major factors led to your company’s growth?

1. The first factor was finding the right partner. Learning not to partner with friends, but with the people that are a good match for your skill set. A difference between a good friend and a good partner is important. You have to be good friends with your partner, but a good friend doesn’t necessarily make a good partner.
2. Learning how to work with volunteer help while you’re growing. It was huge when I finally understood, that I was the one waking up at 2:00 am having thoughts about losing my house or my reputation. while a volunteer can just walk away. That’s when I realized I was taking the risk and responsiblity. That’s also when I could appreciate their contribution without feeling like I was taking too much from them.
3. Learning to balance labor of love and economic/business sense..Learning to invest time and focus … to grow what you love even the parts that aren’t fun.

4. What is your biggest challenge in balancing work with your personal life?

One of the biggest challenges is my involvement in the giving side of my work. What I do is so people-centered that it’s sometimes hard to explain that I have to save time for my family and friends.  I’m so often asked, “will you look at this”, “do this”, “check out my blog”, “give me your time” and it’s not fair to my family ,clients, friends and to me to give that time when I don’t have it.  It’s a challenge because I LOVE sharing that way! Just managing to keep that “giving” in balance — I’ve learned to give my time to those things that move my business forward and that supports my friends and family.

5.What are three pieces of advice you would provide to start-ups/small business that are trying to grow their businesses?

1. Know who you are and what you value because that will attract people to you who value the same things.

2. Know where you’re going because that will help you sort decisions and opportunities that will keep you on track. When opportunities come by decide if it supports where your’e going. If you know, that’s irresitibly attractable. Who wants to follow you if you don’t?

3. Don’t believe you have to do it alone. A leader is someone that wants to build something that they can’t build alone.

4. I’d like to add one more to my list. Tell everybody what you’re doing because people want and will help you.

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