Small Business Warrior: Interview with Elin Barton of Ready-Set-Grit and Linda Rawson
You did not come from a place of privilege but somewhat challenging circumstances. Tell us about that.
I was raised in Utah and a small Mormon Community it was not always thought of as women being in technology or even doing well in math and science. In fact, I joke sometimes because I feel like our math teacher would leave the room so that we could help the football team past math so that they could play.
I have an interesting upbringing, and I also came from a broken home my mom was married several times, and her and my dad divorced when I was probably a 1 ½ years old. She worked at Hill AFB and in the time where many women gained promotions or advancement in their career by maybe doing you know things that weren’t appropriate. I always admired my mother for never going to that you no space to get promoted.
She raised several letters of kids she raised myself and my half-brothers which are 15 years older and then she raised grandchildren which were ten years younger in her later years. She was an amazing woman.
She was into the STEM. We did entomology. We always caught bugs and classified them into their classes. We raised farm animals. I had a background that could have prevented me from being successful. Out of meager beginnings came success.
How did I become an entrepreneur?
I did the Mormon thing and got married at age 18 and had children. I never imagined being an entrepreneur. About 11 years ago I was a software developer sitting at Hill Air Force Base writing radar software, and a blast from my past approached me. He said, “Linda, we would love for you to come and be a subcontractor, but you are going to have to quit your W-2 job and go independent.”
I was divorced at the time. I had three kids in high school. I took the weekend and thought about it and made the jump. I just decided that what was the worst thing that could happen? We might have to sleep on a friend of mine’s couch or something like that.
I had skills so that I would recover quickly financially. That is how my business got born.
What is STEM? Enlighten us?
I am still surprised when you mention STEM how many people do not know what it is. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. They are seeing lots of toys and video games and lots of effort to encourage those type of activities so that we do not lose that in our future.
How did you get into a male-dominated field? Your work supports the whole initiative of 2018 being the year of the woman.
At age 18, I was doing data entry. My first full-time job was at Hill AFB in Utah. I sorted the 80 card column cards for computer programs then I would enter the data into the small multi-user system. My boss said to me, “if you get all of your work done then I will let you program this computer.” I became the data entry, Queen. I completed all the data entry quickly, so I could self-teach myself how to make this computer program better and easier for me to use.
Programming computers fell into my lap, and I had a passion for it. It was a natural talent. Many things in my life have been like that. I look back on my life, and that is what I see. Your path unfolds sometimes. I also feel like if I had not of jumped on the opportunity and just without fear that I would not have been able to grasp it and take advantage of it either
Let’s talk about fear. Are you able to identify the “X-Factor?”
I would say that I am afraid, and I do feel fear. I push through it. It is not an easy thing to do, but I fear heights. I have jumped out of planes. I have hiked to the top of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Fear has been there many times where fear should have held me back. I think it is the point beyond fear where you are the most successful. If you can just make that one final push past your fear is where you will find the most significant success.
I think it is more guts than intelligence or something
You do not put as much weight on the ramifications as you do on the end goal. You do not see the problems. You know the end goal. There’s little bumps in the road, small problems and things that could wipe you out. Whatever. You just have the drive and determination for the end goal, and nothing is going to stop you. That is the difference.
The ability to focus and know all these other things are trivial. I want that end goal. It is all about mindset.
Success is protecting your mind and preserving your space. Parents are friends do not want us to fail so they talk about the fearful place and what could happen. How do you focus?
I think a lot of of-of people would classify me as a huge extrovert. I get out and network all the time. I have thousands of friends on Facebook and connections on LinkedIn, but the reality is I need reset time. Time to just fold it back in. Do the mindset practices and visualize what I want. Maybe that it is all about focus and mindset that is. Knowing that the answers are within because they are there always there someplace
Looking at seemingly better businesses and comparing yourself. Feeling kind of bad about while you are not quite there yet. Comparing yourself to others.
At the time I had about 10 or 11 employees. I looked at another woman business owner in my area that had started two years before me, and she had 150 employees. I felt like because she had done so much in the last two years that I was a failure. I knew that it was part of being driven that you are automatically comparing yourself to other people. The hidden entrepreneur’s thing. The thing that never gets talked about. Depression.
I thought I should get some help, so I sought out a business coach. He was great for. He told me one thing that sticks in my mind. You and I have both gone through the Goldman Sachs program, and they stick in your mind. Entrepreneurs are in the top one percent of the population. There is only 1% of people that have even gone that far.
I had ten employees I was in business for 4 or 5 years. He was like, are you kidding me? Do you know how many people have been in that situation? Not many. You need to stop beating yourself up just focus on you and what you have accomplished. Stop looking at everyone else. You need to make that switch, or you are going to take your company down. It was truly a gift from him to make me look at myself differently.
It comes back to a mindset which is in a hundred percent within our control. We have the power to create our reality or to you know to shift. Money is energy. How do you dealing with money and have an abundance mindset?
I recently read You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. It was such a great book to listen to on Audible. She describes how you need to surround yourself with money. Act like the money is already there. Pretend it is already there. Visualize it already there. I have been dollar bills and posted it notes everywhere they are in my car there in my visor there in my console because I want to attract more contracts and I want to attract more abundance.
Abundance to me has enough money to provide for myself and my family and to give people jobs, so that is what my Post-It notes say. The money is there you just need to reach out and get it. I believe that every single day it will just show up.
You mentioned STEM, and you are working in this field of science and technology. You are committed to helping women in this field. How did you get started in government contracting?
I am a software engineer, and I got my 8(a) status, which is a minority status with the government, based on gender discrimination and I think many times women are told that they cannot they cannot start a business. Woman are told they cannot start a business. They need more positive role models. Government Contracting can be a way to get started.
Even with the STEM programs that we have here, there’s just a low percentage of girls going into IT work. It seems flabbergasting to me. It is work they could do at home. I want to women do more than just network marketing but be true entrepreneurs. I am all for it, and one of the ways is Government Contracting they can get a good start with that
This past week with the #metoo campaign on social media was an eye-opener. So many women have been harassed and you know it is even commonplace in business and so it is amazing to me the women that do succeed, and you do not need to help the other ones.
We feel like we are in these situations alone, but it is interconnected. We must help those coming up the ranks.
What about your inventions. The board game and weather station?
I always thought there should be a weather station hanging off my phone. Many people do not understand why. They get into their weather app, and that is great. What if I am remote or what if I am hiking or I just want to see the wind speed and direction right where I am standing. The device is called the WeatherEgg, and it is a little weather station about the size of an egg.
I have been self-funding to get it developed. One of the ways that I thought could help move it along would be utilizing it for STEM activities. I wrote an illustrated coloring book about weather that is available on Amazon.
The board game is about to come out on a Kickstarter project with no other goal but to gather leads to fund my little weather station. I mean I love the weather, and I am sure everyone does. If you are going to take the S out of STEM Science, why not weather science?
Let’s get kids interested in science, and that is what the whole STEM project is about. Also, people often say, I have never met an inventor before.
Helping people write their story
I like to work with women that are writing books. I like to hold them accountable for doing what they said they were going to do. Many people say they are writers but never write anything. I have a couple of friends that are immigrants and have that whole story from Mexico. Flight attendants and you know maybe one that was a stripper. Some are writing fiction. I tell people because they feel like I wrote this fictional book and I know it is a best-seller. I am going to get on the bestseller list. I say to them you know it is your first book. Just get it written and be able to say that you are an author.
Self-publishing can be daunting, but it is also easy enough to do. You will then have that sense of accomplishment. You can after that point goes and try to get a publisher for the New York Times bestseller. That appointment with an agent will cost you at least $100,000. You must write an incredible book. Just get your first one written so that you get that confidence and then try to write that bestseller.
I have an accountability group, and we also do cover design. If I run into them and they have told me they want to write a book. The first thing out of my mouth does you have that book written.
when I am so full what do people need that that is great have any of the books published yet about these eclectic parts of you of what you do with your work and your volunteer work and your businesses and everything it is kind of cool Linda well
You are so eclectic. Do you ever want to hide out in your closet? Do you experience burnout?
I touched on it earlier with the reset. There are times when I want just to close the curtains and lay in bed. I give myself permission to lay in bed and watch movies all day. If I feel the overwhelming burnout, it is time just to turn everything off and treat me well. Time to be kind to me. I will come back a 150% after that. There are those moments where nothing seems to have gone right with employee issues and family issues. You feel like you are bearing the weight of the entire world. This is an indication that the universe is telling you to slow down. Slow down and reflect. Treat yourself kind.
Be more eclectic and cool.
I think hard work goes a long way and so does learning but it is all about figuring out who you are and what you want.
Thanks, Elin! Fabulous interview.
Here is a link to the interview: