Truth Telling From The Trenches With Yellow Dog Consulting Founder Elizabeth Case
In 2011, I finally decided to pull the plug and start my own consulting firm. Getting paid to tell people what to do (and help them get it done) sounded like the PERFECT career path for someone with 2 younger brothers.
I LOVE small business owners and helping them to figure out what the right fit is in their business. Not what I would do, but what feels authentic to them. I refuse to join Facebook and I promise I won’t make you if you don’t want to.
You’re too small to need someone full time, you love what you do, but that sales and marketing part of the job? It sucks your will to live. I get it.
In my spare time I enjoy consuming pop culture and the occasional adult beverage. You’ll often find me at my local Taphouse with my husband and my yellow dog Norm. In my spare time this year I am the campaign manager for a local city council race!
Where is your business located?
Where did the idea for your business come from?
In 2010, I left my sales job to do sales and marketing for a sales and marketing firm. All my soloprenuer friends contacted us for help with their marketing but the firm didn't work with small business owners.
Once I realized that the company didn't need me full time I decided to start Yellow Dog Consulting. We were paying a dog walker and a dog sitter to take care of the original yellow dog, Hank, and that was ridiculous. So was my commute. And my stress level.
I started Yellow Dog Consulting because I LOVE small business owners. You love what you do and you're great at it. But that sales and marketing part of the job? It sucks your will to live...that's where I come in.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Then I sit down on the couch and check Instagram, Twitter and my inbox. My inbox lets me know if any clients are going to panic (they don't, my clients are amazing) and if anything new is happening today that I need to adjust for.
Then I work out - either a walk with Norm or I take a class.
Breakfast, shower, and to my desk between 9:30 and 10 AM.
My favorite part of running my own business? Running my own schedule. No 7 am meetings over here.
What does your work day look like and how do you maximize your productivity?
Office days are my saving grace. I try to schedule meetings all together.
If I need to go downtown for meetings - I schedule 3 or 4 instead of spending 30 minutes each way for 1 meeting.
I also schedule days with NO calls so I can actually get my work done.
My first task when I get to my desk is to go through my to do list for the week and make sure things are moving along. Then I clean up my inbox responding to clients and prospects and colleagues. That then lets me focus on what needs to get done for the day without much distraction.
Norm always reminds me to stop for lunch (and a potty break for him) and in the afternoon he reminds me when it's time to head outside and play so I don't work too late.
How do you bring your great business ideas to the world to serve your clients?
Trusting my gut ensures that I am consistently providing my clients with what I believe are the best solutions for their business. So when I am working with a client and I have an idea that I think would help their business grow I usually call or email to throw the idea their way to see if it resonates with them as it resonate with me. Vice Versa when clients call me with an idea I trust my gut to say "how do I politely tell them that’s a ridiculous idea" or "YES why hadn’t we thought of this sooner!?"
What is one trend in business that excites you?
Automation! I LOVE automation. Probably because I love efficiencies. What can we streamline and take off your plate?
Is it a welcome series? A follow up campaign from speaking engagements? A drip campaign for a download?
What is one strategy that helped you grow your business?
I love to follow up and it is the reason that I am successful and have been in business for 7 years. Within one business day I send a follow up note to people I have conversations with if I told them I would follow up.
If we met and I got your card but don't have a reason to follow up with you? Odds are you'll get a LinkedIn connection instead.
There's thousands of dollars I don't spend each year because people didn't follow up with me. It's shocking how much business people lose by not following up.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started out I said yes to a lot of projects that I didn't love. And it showed.
Now, if there's something that a client wants and I don't want to do it and know someone else can do it better than me, I will gladly refer them on. I don't want to write your blog for you or manage your social media. I promise you I won't do extensive reporting or manage a database for you, you don't want that and I will probably quit if you don't fire me first!
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to this community?
You probably need a newsletter. And it needs to be regular (monthly is ideal!) and you shouldn't be selling me your latest and greatest book/program/workshop each month. I want to know why you're awesome and why when I'm ready I should hire you.
Your newsletter shouldn't be a novel, no one has time for that. Give me some good resources and tips and tools.
Make sure your personality shines throughout it. Let your inner geek flag fly high. That's why I'm going to hire you. Not because I got free access to a webinar series, but because you're just a big a nerd as I am.
What is the best $100 you have recently spent? on What? Why?
I just bought new bras but that's probably not a good answer for this. (although, a good Nordstrom fitting is good for every woman out there)...
A massage. I love self care and I think I'm pretty good at it. I get regular massages about a half mile from my house to keep my body in check. I can't be my best self if I have knots up and down my back!
What is one piece of software or app that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Zoho CRM. It's a free CRM (customer relationship manager) for up to 3 users and it integrates with MailChimp. So every new newsletter I can easily pull contacts in.
It is how I make sure my follow up is done on time and where I remember WHAT I said to folks the last time we talked.
You need a CRM in your business, no matter what size you are or how much you want to grow.
What is the best business book you have read? Why?
I don't read business books - I really enjoy reading for fun and to relax.
If you've never read To Kill a Mockingbird you need to go do that right now. It will remind you to be kind which is a reminder we can all use in life and business.
What is your favorite quote?
"A lack of planning on your part does not constitute
an emergency on my part." - Bob Carter
Who inspires you in business and why?
It sure sounds like I'm sucking up but Debbie Page has always been a great inspiration to me. Before I started my business I knew I needed to do my own thing and she continued to encourage me and talk and talk with me. Once I started my business I spent way too much time asking her questions and getting her feedback and insights when I'd get stuck. I finally hired her as my business coach and never looked back.
Why? She pushes me and makes me try things that are outside of my comfort zone but that end up being a great fit for my long term growth. She sees things differently than I do which is so helpful when you're running your own show!
What are your thoughts on work-life balance?
I work from 10-4 Monday through Friday (-ish on Friday's...) I work really efficiently so I can get MY work done and then spend my evenings and weekends with friends and family (oh and with that other "job" running a campaign). You have to have it. It's not a joke or a dream, it's why you started your business. Set boundaries. Say no. Stop applying for programs that you aren't really interested in but felt pressured to do. Trust your gut and take a nap if you need to in the middle of the work day.
What are the 3 business lessons you’ve learned so far?
1. Trust your gut
2. You can fire clients (and it will be the best feeling ever)
3. Trust your gut
Every time I don't trust my gut (yes, I can help you with that - even though I hate it) it bites me in the ass. Trust yourself. You're super smart.
What is your workspace like?
I have a home office right off the front door of our home. It has french doors I can close when people are home and I need to have a phone call.
It obviously has a big dog bed for Norm. I have a comfy chair with a Star Wars pillow and a Wonder Woman pillow.
My office is filled with pop culture and comic books. My pop culture nerdiness is STRONG around here.
Last thing you do at the end of your work day?
I review my inbox and my to do list to make sure I know what needs to get done tomorrow. I also review tomorrow's schedule and prep for it if need be so that tomorrow can start off without a hitch.
What is the one thing you can't leave home without?
My phone. It's my inbox, my calendar and my source of entertainment (podcasts, social media, etc.). Plus it's my MAX ticket, my Lyft driver, my map and my Starbucks app.
It's permanently attached...
What superpower would you love to have to use for good?
Teleportation. I just got back from London and boy I would love to have those 23 hours of travel back.
It's not the journey it's the destination. I want to get there so the fun can start!
Number of unread emails right now?
Anything else you want to add?
I don't want to do business with someone who isn't authentic. If you're just doing what you think you're supposed to do, we can tell.
Trust your gut, do what you started out to do and don't get distracted by all those shiny objects along the way!
How can other entrepreneurs connect with you?
If you are reading this and are interested in being featured in the Truth Telling from the Trenches series - apply here.