Inspirational Business Owners: Interview with Sarah Steinhofel, Smart Bear


Today I interview the brilliant Sarah Steinhofel to and ask her all about running her business.

1) Describe your business – what do you do?
I am a web designer, content creator, digital mentor and chatterbox with a bright orange quiff.
I work with small businesses, individuals and charities helping them to get the best out of their digital presence. Be that with a new website, creating compelling content or helping them to get to grips with social media. I also often speak at various groups, helping people understand why they need a website and all the excitement that goes with having one.
I’m also just in the process of rebranding – you heard it here first!

2) What made you decide to start up your own business?
It wasn’t a conscious decision if I am honest. I suffer with mental health issues (anxiety and depression), and my last job had left me burnt out. I literally couldn’t cope. I met Suzi Brown, owner of The Smart Bear a couple of years ago socially, and she was looking for another pair of hands. So I left a high flying IT career to basically become a middle-aged apprentice! My company literally only existed to invoice her! Of course, that has totally changed as I’ve found my feet (and voice!) and now am into everything ?

3) What did you find hard in the beginning? What help did you get?
All of it! I worked for a tech company for over 18 years, and I was totally and utterly entrenched in their culture. Coming out into the ‘real’ world was honestly terrifying! I am a really confident person, but this was a whole new set of skills I didn’t think that I had. There is so much to learn, and sometimes you really don’t know what you don’t know.
I have been lucky in that I have been able to work with a number of fabulous people, I’ve never been without a fabulous support network. I’ve never been shy about asking for people to mentor me! Having the support of others in the same position as you really helps a lot. 

The biggest help was spending half a day with Ruth. Honestly, she’s not paying me for this! It was so much of a boost for me to have someone who didn’t know me tell me that I was good at something. I’ve never looked back since.

4) What is the most rewarding thing about your business?
Seeing your work out in the world. I create some great websites and I am still proud of the first one that I did! I’ve come a long way since that site, but it’s still a favourite. So is that client.
I also like the fact that I am able to help people get more comfortable with their digital presence. It’s such an integral part of a business, but we often forget that some people just don’t feel comfortable with it. It’s such a joy seeing clients posting confidently on social media, or using technology in a smarter way than they were before.

5) If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would you say?
Just bloody do it! Overthinking is an occupational hazard if you have anxiety. It means that I spend a lot of time going round in circles! If I go with my gut I am usually OK. If you are positive and you learn when things don’t go well, you’ll never be too far off a stroke of genius!

6) What are your plans for the future?
My company Hoff-IT, is rebranding as The Smart Bear Content. The idea is, it makes the whole thing easier to understand and provides a consistent brand across the work we do. We often get confused clients as they are not sure who is doing what! It makes a lot of sense to have a single brand and provide an end to end service.
I am also looking to get more into vlogging (I am hoping my putting this out there I’ll actually do it!) Whilst I am a confident person, I am not so confident about being on film. I did do one for Lloyds bank, but that was professionally edited. It’s much harder when you’re doing it all yourself. I just need to go and get the kit.
Oh, and never stop learning new stuff… If I ever stop, it will be the day they put me in a box!

Thank you, Sarah.

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