Interview with Liz Riley

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?

I am a re-branding strategist, creative director and photographer of unique-to-you visual brands for bold and disruptive business owners who want to show up and show off with branding photos that put them in the spotlight and clients on their waitlist. 

 

 

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?

It is a combination of what I love to do and where I’m good at; photography, market demand and creating a branding and marketing strategy. When I just started with my photography business I was starting to realize that ‘something’ was missing… like something wasn’t quite right and everything felt off. And like many other entrepreneurs, I fell for the “shiny object syndrome” where you purchase a gazillion courses and try to fix the problem. These courses were doing nothing more than putting a bandaid over the real problem. I began doubting my decision for purchasing those courses, I began doubting my work as a photographer and to be honest I also become bored with the type of photographs I took. Most people wanted the “authentic” type of photos. You know the photos where someone is sitting at a cafe with a sweet smile behind his or her laptop while holding a cup of coffee. Or the photos where someone is wandering down the street with a green juice cup, laughing and posing in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

I was able to work with an amazing business coach and a creative agency that enabled me to build a brand that truly felt like me. They also helped me to bring both my skills photography and branding together. I also learned what it takes to create and what branding photography really is. When I was going through this process, I was able to see a beautiful combination of what I love to do and where my skills lie. I discovered that there is a huge market demand for brand photography and a huge gap in the market. There are not many business owned photographers that also work on branding and marketing positioning. Unless they work within a big creative agency. 

What I love most about my business is that it’s different from the norm of visual branding. Which keeps me creatively challenged. It enables me to bring up different and creative ideas for (creative) brands. 

 

 

WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?

I worked in the corporate industry for thirteen years on an international level where I covered roles such as application system/UI design, global applications trainer, international sales and marketing. About seven years ago I started a female portrait business as a sidekick to my corporate career. Where I worked mostly on during the weekends. Then four years ago I finally made the jump from corporate to entrepreneur. When I started the business I was a portrait and branding photographer. But two years ago I changed my business where I now only focus on creative and strategic visual branding. 

 

Interview with Liz Riley - Female Entrepreneurs - Paperbeau

 

 

WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Oh, there are a few pieces of advice to give! 

  1. Be prepared for the change in lifestyle. Mentally, physically and financially. You are now a business owner and as a solo entrepreneur, you have to wear all the hats. The business owner, strategist, social media expert, the accountant, the marketer all while trying to find clients. It is hard work and the perception that platforms like Instagram give that all you need to do is to do *this* or *that* online strategy. Or they would advise you to put an online course together and you’ll be making millions of money in no time, it is complete BS. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Make time for good health, sleep and be around people as this lifestyle can be really lonely. Be prepared financially to be able to support yourself as a business can have high months and low months and you don’t want to put yourself in the  position of desperately trying to get clients (where we can smell the desperation and you end up with clients you dislike) because your bank account has nothing but dust in it.

  2. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be on every platform. You must do what’s right for you, your lifestyle, your business and to be present where your clients are.

  3. If a potential client doesn’t feel right, politely say no to working with them and recommend them to someone else.  You’ll save yourself so much pain.

  4. Unsubscribe from your competitors. You might be looking for inspiration, but in reality, it’s the fastest way to bring you down and have you heading to fetch yourself a drink instead. It will paralyze you, have you swimming in the sea of sameness and it will drown your own voice. Have the guts and courage to create and do what feels good to you.

  5. Never ask family and friends for advice for them, not your target market.

  6. Sell what people want, give them what they need.

  7. You don’t need to have a brand new revelational business to stand out from the crowd. Take a time tested idea and put your own unique spin on it – not in regards to pretty colours and fonts, but driven by a reason, your way.

 

 

MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:

To stop with the buying and falling for the “shiny object syndrome” of purchasing endless courses and wasting money on courses that got me nowhere. To walk away for the noise on the internet and the endless comparison. I decided to do it my way, what was right for me, my business, my lifestyle and my marriage. It’s invigorating when you come to this point. You stop listening and start doing. But to get there I had to step away from all the noise, I had to enable myself to take on a bigger perspective of everything and to listen to my gut. And when I found the right mentor it was an absolute game-changer. 

 

 

MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:

My proudest accomplishment was during a traumatic personal period that I experienced while running my business.  My life completely fell to pieces. I completely fell to pieces. Everything I had and knew and the future I had envisioned had turned to dust. There was a lot of anger, anxiety, depression, emotional turmoil and endless days and nights of tears.  I had completely lost my self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. But I found the courage, strength and guts to still keep going. To keep moving forward by showing up for my clients. I kept giving them an incredible experience and made the results that I promised to deliver. This experience also taught me to really focus on what is important and what is necessary to deliver a profitable business without all of the BS we get told we should do.

It was the hardest experience I have ever been through. But I made it to the other side. I did not give up despite wanting too. I put myself back together. I showed up for my beautiful clients. And I found my self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem so much stronger than ever before and continued to have an amazing business. I am incredibly proud of that. 

 

Interview with Liz Riley - Female Entrepreneurs - Paperbeau

 

 

HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:

I put boundaries and make time for both business and my life (sport, friends, family). It all comes down to balance. It even comes down to choices about platforms, such as Instagram where I used to be constantly on it. My life was being attached to a phone. I don’t want that and I don’t do that often anymore. Because it even started to creep into my relationships.  Who wants to go out on a fun dinner date with there man, where you spend 20 minutes, trying to take the perfect Instagram pic of your meal while your food goes cold and your man is just screaming “Babe! Can I please eat my food now??!!” 🙂  It all comes down to knowing what sort of a life you want and then making the right choices to get you there.  

 

 

 

I AM INSPIRED BY:

Ash Ambirge from the middle finger project. She is a rockstar. Sashka Hanna-Rappl from Brand Sashka And I get inspired by the environments that surround me, visions/photography and from people around me, such as my family and friends.

 

 

WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:

With my business, I am being able to meet many people from so many different walks of life. Having a business like mine enables me to connect and work with people from all over the world. I get to know the world, myself and what lets my soul on fire. I take these experiences and wrap them around me. Another thing I love is that I am in a position where I can help entrepreneurs be able to truly see themselves in all of their glory, where they are confident within themselves, have belief within themselves and where they love themselves and what they do.  

 

 

HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:

By having a clear mindset. You can’t expect success when your head is bogged down and your mind is running in circles and the negativity is taking over. What I do is I start the day with a long walk where I clear my mind. It keeps me focused on what is necessary and what my goals are.

 

 

 

DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?

Yes, definitely.  You have to know what you want to achieve and you have to stay realistic about it. Having a business plan keeps you on track with your goals and is also a good review as to why things didn’t or have worked out for you. 

 

 

ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?

I think what can tend to be a disadvantage is that we as women are givers and we have the “can do it all” mentality. But by trying to “do it all” without asking for help and by continuously keep given and given is a disadvantage in the long run. For example; Working much longer on a project that was discussed only to add that extra value. Or when a client asks: “oh, can you just do this little thing for me”? and then you end up doing it for free. And I think that many women feel ashamed to ask for what they are truly worth. To ask for that money they deserve and have worked for. Yes, we want amazing clients and have a good relationship with them. But at the end of the day, this is business. So it’s important to set your expectations and boundaries, to value your time and your work. You don’t need to be ashamed to ask for the money you and your work are worth. I learned this very quickly the hard way.  

 

 

MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…

Dubsado. Oh, the organisation and ease of clients, contracts, proposals, tasks and so on. 

 

 

 

THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…

Thou shall defer to no one but herself—as a policy.

“You can have advisors. You can have counsel. You can work with collaborators. And you can be really, really nice. But above all, you trust yourself more than you trust any other motherfucker out there, alright? You act with honour, and you act with integrity, and you always remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Other people have a vested interest in getting you to do what they want you to do—not what you should do. Only you know that. And—surprise—you already know what to do.”  From Ash Ambirge

 

Interview with Liz Riley - Female Entrepreneurs - Paperbeau

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Interview with Liz Riley

  1. Loved the interview Liz and Jennifer! Thank you for the entertaining questions (and photo’s)! Sound advice for new business starters too – without removing the journey which is necessary for the business. Well done!

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