MY TRIBE INTERVIEWS [ Women need to support women. And I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without my support system. I will be sharing profile interviews of some the amazing boss babes I surround myself with. ]
Sitting down with the entrepreneurial Elizabeth “Liz” Barton
Founder & CEO, Barton Digital Agency
Iron & Walnut
She typically has some sort of tool to shuck an oyster with…on her person…at all times. And as a huge fan of Sriracha, she quite literally has hot sauce in her bag.
It’s right next to her two business cards. Yes, two. One for her own digital agency. And the other for her handcrafted, wood furniture company she created with her boyfriend and partner, Alex.
This woman’s hands. Do a lot of work in a day.
Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, I surround myself with high-achieving people. People who inspire me and push me out of my comfort zone. Women, especially, who are out there living their best life and absolutely “getting it.” Coming from a place of abundance and harnessing their individuality to change the world.
And Liz is no exception. She inspires me every day and reminds me that women can be business owners.
You see, despite her time spent in the demanding and competitive world of startups, including in Chicago and Manhattan, she had a ringing in her ear that would not relent.
“It takes a certain kind of person to be attracted to a startup,” she explained. “You are so involved in the great ideas that people have for new companies,” working every day to make their vision a reality. “…But you are secretly the type of person who wants their own business.”
Throughout her tenure in the start-up sphere, Liz could be found journaling her own ideas for a company one day. A former boss once told her that she seemed like the type to have her own business, not simply remain a worker.
“If you like startups, you enjoy figuring out what their problems are…and solving them,” Liz says. But this might lead you to help “automate yourself out of the job.” Essentially, your critical thinking and problem-solving skills might actually eliminate the need for your job at all. And then, it’s on to the next. The next problem. The next team. Or even the next company.
But one day, it all clicked for her.
A change of scenery. A new side hustle. A life that begged to be lived.
Suddenly, the idea of “work-life balance” became more needed than ever before. Working for someone else would no longer suffice, and she had the skills to make it happen.
“It honestly fell in my lap,” Liz recounted. “I had unwittingly developed an expertise, and through referrals from former colleagues, got my first client.”
Starting off as a freelancer on a popular freelancing site, it became easy for her to see her value. Nothing is more validating that realizing you are needed in this world.
And clients sure needed her. As someone who manages sales and marketing operations along with strategy and digital campaign execution, Liz’s skillset was highly sought after, leading her to astutely realize she could monetize it all on her own.
“My skills are my business,” she realized. “People are willing to pay you what you determine your time and skills are worth.” Honestly, the key is to just get started. Looking back on this “tipping point” in her life, Liz’s advice is just to go DO. And DO sooner rather than later.
“If you have any desire to start your own business, just do it now. Waiting isn’t going to make it any easier for you.”
And it was Liz’s path to entrepreneurship that provides such teachable moments. It’s full of guiding situations that she hopes other women can learn from. The main focus being to just get your butt in gear.
It’s all about “doing” before you’re ready, and not over-analyzing every decision. (as many high-performing women are prone to do)
This actually came up for Liz when naming her company. That was an initial roadblock. Liz needed to file an LLC for her business, but got stuck. “I realized eventually that the name wasn’t that important, and was holding me back.”
How did she overcome? Like a true boss, Liz realized she could change it later if she wanted to. But just needed to get started somewhere. If she continued to circle on this one decision, she’d never push beyond.
Now she has her business. Paying clients. A successful start.
But certainly, it’s not all that easy.
“If you are going to be easily turned away…you will not go anywhere. The experience of surviving those types of situations (said no to, turned away, rejected)…it builds resilience,” Liz explains.
Similar to her experience in startups, Liz says you need to “fail early, and fail often” to get anywhere.
Mostly though, to run your own business, you need to have a fierce desire to “avoid mediocrity,” as Liz calls out. “I’m constantly checking in with myself to see if anything is keeping my business from growing faster.”
And to grow “you need to get comfortable with everyday little failures (and big ones),” she explains. “You’ll learn something from it. If you shy away from that, you’ll be stuck in a safety zone without any form of rejection.”
Liz equates it to fitness “when it gets really hard, that’s the moment before it gets easy.” “You push through it…because the best wins are right around the corner.”
But the failures wouldn’t be as easy to handle nor the wins celebrated so big without her support system. “Make sure you have at least one person in your life that is hyper supportive,” Liz advises.
“I’m not saying as a woman that you need a partner, but in my case – I’m not sure I would have considered starting this particular company after getting just one consulting client. Without the support and encouragement from him, my family, and his family this might not have even happened!” she says.
Ah yes, support is key.
“You definitely need to have some supportive people in your life, whoever those people are, work mentors family, friends or all of the above.”
Let them lift you up to your highest potential. It’s definitely there. Unique to you. Void of the mundane.
And why does Liz feel so strongly about women starting businesses?
Because she knows the future is female.
So find your tribe. Take the risks. The best is yet to come.
You just need to try.
CONTACT LIZ: You can contact Liz on her website for her digital agency HERE!