Meet Liz! The Founder at Theme Strategic Proposal Tells All

This is a “Guest Post” from a close colleague. We interviewed Liz to hear more about her journey that led to Theme Strategic Proposals and where she sees the business heading!

Over the last couple months, we’ve seen some great content from Liz on her Theme Strategic Proposals blog AND email newsletter. (If you aren’t signed up for the newsletter, sign up here!).

Below, you will learn more about Liz, and her heart and vision for Theme. Ultimately, Theme’s goal is to assist YOUR business in winning new opportunities. One proposal at a time.

You and your husband, David, live in Kansas City now. Are you both native to the KC area?

I’m from Muskogee, Oklahoma (like the song!). My family moved to Overland Park, Kansas in 1995.

David was born in New Jersey but his family moved here when he was one-year-old.

Where did you go to school and what was your degree in? Did you always know you wanted to write/help others in the business development space?

I graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2012 with a B.A in Mass Communications and a Journalism emphasis.

Honestly, I did not want to go to college. But since I had no other plans, I decided, “Why not?” I love world history and current events—after exploring business and political science degrees, I decided journalism was for me. After working for a college newspaper, and interning at KMBC 9 News, I decided it actually wasn’t for me (though I’m so thankful for learning AP style). My only goal after college was to get a job relevant to my degree to justify the cost of school. At the time, in the wake of the 2007-2008 housing bubble and economic crisis, I was pretty uncertain about my future. Today, I can confidently say college was well worth the investment and God had my path laid out before me.

As for Theme and my current area of expertise, I’ve always loved helping others succeed and have wanted to be a business owner since college. My grandpa was a Missourian farmer, and one of my ancestors, Joseph Bell, fought in the Revolutionary War centuries ago. I believe their can-do spirits instilled a love for independence and bootstrapping that helps me succeed in business today.

What was your introduction to the RFP writing process?

In 2013, I applied for a marketing job at Burns & McDonnell that had “proposals” in the job description. I scoured the internet trying to understand what the heck an engineering proposal was. It’s funny to look back on that moment in light of where I’m at today.

Who has been one of your most exciting clients and why?

A lot of my clients like to remain confidential—Theme often integrates as a part of their internal team. One of our biggest success stories (and most exciting clients) is a technology vendor that serves municipalities nationwide and internationally. In 2019, with Theme’s help, we were able to help them win contracts for the States of Utah and Georgia, Los Angeles County, the City of New York, and the City of Philadelphia. We are proud of those wins, but still believe our best days are ahead!

Who would be a dream client for you and why?

Honestly, my dream clients are the little guys: small but well-established businesses with two to 50 employees and a reputation for doing great work. Clients who regularly submit bids and proposals and engage Theme for ongoing support are our dream clients.

When you aren’t helping others win new business, how are you spending your time?

If you asked me in 2019, I would have answered, “Travel!” However, this year has thrown a wrench in a lot of plans, as it has for everyone. I’m an only child of parents who love to travel. My dad ended up getting a part-time job at American Airlines when I was young solely for the free flight benefits. That, combined with being homeschooled fourth-grade through eighth-grade, enabled me to see parts of the world and experience a variety of cultures. I’m so thankful for the experiences and the adventuresome spirit they instilled in me. I believe traveling and taking risks go hand-in-hand. This confidence and willingness to pursue the unknown is what, I believe, gave me the inspiration to start Theme Strategic Proposals, and the determination to keep going—even when the tough times require extreme grit.

These days, when I’m not working I’m spending time with my eight-month-old son, Jesse, and my husband, David. He goes to bed at 6:30pm most evenings, so I typically use that time to cook, tidy the house, and of course, churn-out proposals!

2021 is looking bright. We have plans to visit my parents in California (and meet up with my Czech friend and her family!) and a week-long visit to the Oregonian coast for a family reunion and memorial for David’s grandpa, who passed away in April. Jesse has three new cousins (all boys—roughly his age!) to meet when we make it to Oregon.

Looking a little to the future, what are some goals for Theme in the year ahead?

I have big goals for 2021: Double our sales, provide exceptional service and end-products for our existing clients, and add new clients to the fold. Another goal we have is to launch a new website by the end of Q1 2021 (stay tuned for that announcement!). And I am running to serve as the 2021 Local Engagement Co-Chair for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals Greater Midwest Chapter. I’m looking forward to helping fellow proposal enthusiasts connect across APMP GMC’s 11-state region.

Who is the prime client that Theme works with? If I know a friend or connection that needs your service, how can I get you two connected?

We work with over 30 companies across a variety of industries. Some require ongoing support and some only need help a couple times a year. If you know someone who has to prepare proposals to win work for their business, I’d love to connect with them on LinkedIn or via email!