Small Business Profile:

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of Outspoken Media, Inc.—an internet marketing startup that was founded in January by three women who wanted more for their clients. Partner Rae Hoffman just finished 20th in the recent Startup Mom competition, an accomplishment with a tremendous amount of meaning to her.

“As three women in a male-dominated industry, we took a risk by starting a company together. My partner Rae is a single mom of three children (one severely handicapped) and I have a speech disorder that makes it difficult for me to communicate, statistics say we probably should have kept day jobs.” — Lisa Barone

Starting a business during a recession is a risky thing to do, but also the optimal time for new ideas, better services and plucky folks to connect. Top of mind for this crew is empowering others to take smart risks. “We did it and we want others to know they can do that too.”

Behind The Scenes

rae-hoffman-small      Rae Hoffman

rhea-drysdale-small   Rhea Drysdale

lisa-barone-small   Lisa Barone
Rae Hoffman is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc. In 1997 Rae started a small website about her son and his medical condition that became one of the first international support groups on the topic. It earned national media coverage and helped further medical research in the field… More about Rae Hoffman Rhea Drysdale is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc. Since 2004 Rhea has grown her understanding of on-page optimization, online reputation management and social media with both in-house and agency positions. Rhea loves working with clients… More about Rhea Drysdale Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc. Lisa has been involved in the SEO community since 2006 and is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking, and her excessive on-the-clock Twittering… More about Lisa Barone


Problem was solving for?   The Opportunity?  
Many SEO services offer a one-size fits all package and charge huge premiums for tailored to solutions. Employ techniques which are customized to a client’s needs to help them achieve higher rankings in the search engines and achieve more targeted traffic.

OutspokenMedia works with clients to develop marketing strategies that encourage them to do great things and to care about their niche communities. The Outspoken blog was developed to prompt action in the community as well as teach. Outspoken presents How Tos to small business owners helping them market their own businesses and get more from online.  The recession has given entrepreneurs an even larger opportunity to go out on their own and succeed. It hasn’t taken it away.

Here is a bit from my interview with Lisa from…

When did the idea for starting your business come to you?
Having my own business was never something I was aspiring to. I was very much content in the stability of being an employee and receiving a steady paycheck. However, in January I was three months into a new job (a job I had moved from CA to NY to take) and came to a point where I knew in my heart it wasn’t going to work out. So the decision was to stay in a job I wasn’t comfortable in to keep a paycheck or venture out on my own in a bad economy.  It may seem crazy to some but, I chose the latter option.

Luckily, it didn’t take more than a few chats with my then-friends, now business partners, Rae Hoffman and Rhea Drysdale to be confident that we could do something together. So really just like that, we formed Outspoken Media, a new kind of Internet marketing company.  Deciding to start the company was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Committing to myself to something that huge was an enormous undertaking for me. But I’m very glad I did it.

What do you do?
My official role at Outspoken is that of Chief Branding Officer, which to me means that I’m responsible for starting conversations. Whether that’s for us or for clients, through the blog or on Twitter, or through any other medium, my job really is to build brands and conversation through communities on the Web.  I help people their evangelists and build bridges.

What’s the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome to start your business?
Learning how to wear so many hats.  Before I’ve always had very specific job descriptions. When the business is your own, you find yourself taking on tasks you never imagined.  There’s a constant learning curve.

What’s the most satisfying thing about running your business?
The freedom to do what I feel is right.  I’m a blogger and a bit mouthy, so working for someone else always meant that I had to temper that. I had to watch what I wrote, watch what I said, pick my battles, etc.  Now I get to blog as me and for me, which I think makes my blogging more genuine and more engaging for readers. It probably doesn’t sound like that big of a change, but to me it’s been night and day and something I’m incredibly grateful for.  I can’t always say what I want to in real life due to my speech difficulties, so having total freedom of my written voice means everything to me.  It’s empowered me.

Has running your business been what you expected it would be? How?
There’s a lot more to it than I ever thought. I knew that it would be long hours and that it’d grueling at times…I just thought at some point that would stop and that I’d have a day to catch my breath. That day hasn’t hit yet. My biggest lesson has been that it just never stops. There’s always something to do, something more than needs tweaking, an email to respond to, a blog post to write, someone to reach out to, etc.  I’ve learned that running your own business really is a 247 job. I love it. It’s been great and incredibly rewarding, but there’s so much more to it than I ever knew.  Every so often a crisis will break out and I’ll turn to one of my partners and say, “someone should really take care of that!”, and then I remember that I’m that person. If I want something done, I’m the person to do it.

How did you fund your business in the beginning?
I think that’s the beauty of the Internet, you can start a business with very low capital.  Because we’re a service-based company, the only initial costs we had were those involved with skinning the Web site. The domain was already bought, we had hosting, etc. From there the “cost” really is time. It’s been working to build the brand, getting our name out, letting people know we exist, and taking on clients.

What is your passion?
Using my voice in a way that helps others.  I love that the blog allows me to share advice, concerns, issues, etc, with people and to have an impact on their day or to touch them in some way. There’s no greater feeling than that.

What makes you get up in the morning?
My business partners and knowing that we’re capable of doing great things for clients, in a style that’s true to us.  It’s nice believing in what you do and the way you do it.

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