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Your network is your biggest asset. Elizabeth Gore, President and co-founder of Alice, knows that better than most.
Elizabeth (Twitter | Website) has spent years working in different roles across the country and around the globe. From working at George Bush’s front desk to serving as Entrepreneur in Residence for IBM to taking time to join the Peace Corp, she’s had the opportunity to connect with all kinds of people. Today, her network has helped her build her dream business – an A.I. service that supports other small business owners as they build their own network.
In this episode, Chad and Elizabeth discuss the value of a strong social and professional network, creating a company culture that supports work-life balance, and how small business owners are the backbone of our economy.
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[2:30] How Salesforce And Elizabeth Connected
- Mentioned: Salesforce Essentials
- To learn more about how you can build and grow your small business, subscribe to The Journey podcast.
[4:00] Keeping A Healthy Mindset And Staying Motivated
- Elizabeth is motivated by one small business owner at a time. Every time she helps someone new, she asks herself: “How do I scale that one good thing to help millions?”
“A good night’s sleep is the new cocaine.” – Elizabeth
- To stay on top of everything in her life – being a mom, wife, community member, and startup owner – she must get good sleep.
- She also prioritizes exercise because it is her only time alone to think about her next steps for her life and business.
[6:35] Creating Work-Life Balance
“It’s not a balance, it’s a balancing act. So somedays you are going to tip to the right, somedays you are going to tip to the left…” – Elizabeth
- No matter how planned or focused you are, life happens and things come up. To overcome the times when the act tips one way or the other, you must be resilient and have a good personal and business network that you can rely on.
- In her business, Elizabeth strives to create an environment where even when unexpected things come up, there are systems in place to keep the business running without a hiccup.
“Build an environment around you and your business that can handle you taking a break…or whatever you need to be healthy.” – Elizabeth
[9:00] On Training And Professional Development
- Elizabeth asks her team members: “What do you want to learn in this job to prepare you for the next one?”
- As a leader, you have to be very intentional about asking people about their goals. If you don’t, they’ll often forget to think about their long-term goals on their own.
- Elizabeth’s company motto:
“Everybody needs to learn how to make the entire company succeed.”
[10:45] The Value Of Your Network
“The biggest impediment to building your network is often just getting over your fear and picking up the phone.” – Chad
“Your network is your greatest asset over the life of your career. You have no idea when or where that network might serve you.” – Elizabeth
- She made a variety of connections throughout her career. During her time in the Peace Corp, she had a lot of free time and wrote letters back to these contacts to stay in touch. That network has proven to be one her most valuable assets.
- Elizabeth shares some of the unique ways she would get in contact with and cold reach out to people. She stresses that no matter how you make contact, always be genuine in your interaction.
“You need to think about how to give back to [your network]… make sure it’s not a one-way relationship.” – Elizabeth
[15:00] Her Time As Entrepreneur In Residence at Dell
- Before she was at Dell, she helped create a UN Global Entrepreneur Council. This got their attention. At the time, Dell was going from public to private which would change the types of investments and innovations they could fund. They wanted her to use her experience and expertise to advocate for small businesses around the world.
- When they offered her the job, she was moving cross country and was pregnant; it was far from ideal timing. But Dell wanted her, so they held the job for her until after her maternity leave.
[17:30] Hello Alice’s Origins
- She met her cofounder through a mutual friend. They started talking about the opportunity around the lack of access women and people of color had in business. Within a few meetings, they agreed to cofound Alice.
- But just after they launched the site, they had to pivot their business plan. They realized a lot of signups were coming from men in remote or poor areas who were also having a hard time getting access to resources to build their business.
- They rebuilt Alice to support both marginalized women and men. Today they help 100,000 people a day launch and grow their business.
- Some of Elizabeth’s favorite customer stories:
- They built an A.I. component that matches resources with business owners who have different types of disabilities.
- They also help provide remote resources to military spouses so that when they move, they can continue to build their business ideas.
[23:30] Some Stats On Small Business Owners
- Let us hit you with some facts:
- “Over 70% of jobs in the United States are from small business owners.”
- “Small business owners are the biggest job creators.”
- “Locally, 91% of jobs are from small business owners.”
- “543,000 businesses a month are launching in the U.S. right now.”
[24:45] The Scariest Parts Of Running A Business
- Cashflow is the number one fear of small business owners, and Elizabeth constantly feels this fear first hand.
- She “would love to see policies in the U.S. where enterprise companies have to pay small business owners within 30 days.”
- Elizabeth’s recommendations for overcoming cashflow struggle:
- Don’t just take the first contract from an enterprise company. You have the power to negotiate pay and payment time.
- Factoring can help you get by in down times.
- When you do have money, get a line of credit.
- Firing people is also a scary thing as a business owner, but it’s often necessary for growth.
“When you go from a startup team to a scale-up team, it is very common that those are not going to be the same set of people. Not everybody. And [you must have] dignity and grace, but also be concise in moving on.” – Elizabeth
[30:00] Fighting Stress
- One of Elizabeth’s favorite ways to blow off steam is to hang out with her kids and those that she loves.
- Elizabeth also recommends having a co-founder. It takes some of the pressure off of your shoulders and gives you a partner in crime that you can trust.
- To help combat phone addiction, she leaves her phone across the room at night. This keeps her from looking at it right when she wakes up or goes to bed.
[32:06] Working With Ted Turner
“You can’t always be right, but you can be on time.” – Ted Turner
- Mentioned: Call Me Ted by Ted Turner
- Elizabeth’s main takeaway from working with Ted is that “time is your biggest asset.”
[35:45] Lightning Round
- Favorite book: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
- Favorite Series: Game of Thrones
- Favorite App: Slack
- A radical idea for the future of business: That it will be lead by women.
- Vision for the next 5-10 years for Alice: Have helped 6 million small business owners scale.
- Her final CTA: Encourage folks to really lift up small business owners by supporting local businesses.