Andrea Sok, Founder and CEO, Sok Influencer PR
Andrea Sok, Founder and CEO, Sok Influencer PR
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I spent more than 15 years in marketing and communications roles in global nonprofits. My career took me around the world seeking great stories and sharing them in new and different ways.
It was fun, exciting, and fulfilling however, I found myself either solely in marketing or solely in PR and with the landscape consistently changing we were always missing out. Missing out on the opportunity to share amazing stories.
I launched Sok Influencer PR to combine the power of PR and Influencer Marketing. We are rooted in the power of storytelling. It’s the foundation of our work. We craft your story and find the right voices and vehicles to deliver that message authentically.
By leveraging traditional media, content creators, and influential voices in a business’ specific digital or physical community we can deliver the results needed to grow and scale any business, startup, or nonprofit.
I launched my business during the start of the pandemic. Yes, I know, what was I thinking?! But, the climate was hungry for solutions like Sok Influencer PR. I was able to offer them something they had never experienced before and to great success! I also found that the pandemic forced companies to be comfortable with a remote set up which enabled me to bring in clients from coast to coast.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
There are so many! My personal and professional support network have been instrumental in my success. To point to one person, I would say Chelsea Reinbold of Rise Up & Expand. She was my health coach at the time and she pushed me to set a date when I would launch my business. She said, “What are you waiting for? Let’s set a date today.” We did! I launched just about a month past that date.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
Embrace failure as a part of the learning process! Successful entrepreneurs understand that not every idea will work out, and failures can provide valuable insights and opportunities for growth. By viewing failure as a stepping stone rather than a setback, we can take risks and innovate without fear of failure.
I always try to be flexible, adaptable, and focused on providing value to customers while being willing to learn and grow from failures.
My best advice is to talk about it! If you put your failures out there and talk about them with your team, your advisors, and your support network then you can learn and grow. Give everyone space to reflect on what happened and what we can use to fuel our next idea or improve our workflow.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
You can’t please everyone! When I first launched I worked with a client who was perpetually dissatisfied. Win after win, it was never enough. Our contract ended and I didn’t pursue renewal. A year later she came back and inquired about re-starting her contract with us. For someone who was so displeased with our work she wanted more! I declined. There are some people who will never be satisfied and no price will counter that type of negative energy.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
Systems matter. The business of doing business is so much easier when you have systems in place. I learned this the hard way and in many respects, I am still playing catch up! If I had focused on creating and documenting processes for even just the major areas of the business when I first started I could have saved countless hours.
Celebrate and document “wins”. I personally tend to breeze by the good, devoting the most time and attention to areas of the business that need work. I wish someone had told me when I first started out to celebrate and document those “wins”. Our employees need to be celebrated for their good work and we need to share those wins with our current and prospective clients.
Control your schedule and build in time for professional development and self care! When you are just starting out you are laser focused on growth and end up taking every meeting and bending over backwards to match your clients’ needs. That leads straight to burnout! Take control of your schedule, set limits. I walk my children to school every morning and I treasure that quiet, peaceful time with them which means during the school year you won’t find me at an early morning meeting. Similarly, we instituted a biweekly two-hour block for professional development time company-wide. Employees, including myself, use that time to attend training, take a course, or participate in a workshop to further our own development. Lastly, self care must be scheduled. If you are not taking time to take care of self, ultimately your business will suffer.
Celebrate and document "wins"
Control your schedule
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
I am fortunate to have launched my business with the support of a great network of former colleagues and informal advisors who continue to offer their wisdom and support. As an entirely remote structure I also felt it was important to join some local groups in order to grow my support network and feed that need for personal connection. I joined several industry specific groups and have found that to be the most effective vehicle for building connections within my sector.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
I look at three factors when making the decision to pivot.
First, what is my financial commitment to this direction? Do I have money invested in this direction and what will I lose if I pivot now? We get anxious when things aren’t going well and I find with my clients that sometimes they pivot too quickly. Give the strategy time to perform.
Second, what is my time commitment to this direction? How much time am I devoting to this direction? How much time is my staff allocating? You may not be spending a lot of money, but if you are taking your time and attention away from other projects without seeing a return, it might be time to change gears.
Lastly, is something else calling me? A pivot in strategy is so much easier when you have other projects begging for your time and attention. Run the pros and cons. If you pivot, what will that mean for your current workload and your budget? Could you take this other project and really turn it into something?
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
In business, and in life, you are going to go through ups and downs and I find that focusing on the big picture- revisiting your long-term goals and vision always helps to re-focus. Self care is also extremely important. If your body and mind aren’t at their best, it is hard to get through even the day-to-day. Lastly, I think it is important to celebrate success and learn from failures. The former is often the hardest. Business owners tend to breeze by wins and focus on the problem areas, but it is important to your growth and your teams’ motivation to celebrate wins big or small.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
If I could rewind the clock I would go back and establish my systems and processes! It is not exciting. There is no “wow” factor. Yet, it has a huge impact. When I launched my business I jumped right in and started taking on clients, building, growing and “doing the work” and every transaction became that much longer and more time consuming because I didn't have the proper processes in place. Invest in systems early to save yourself time in the long run.