When I set out to own my own business, I didn’t have a long term strategy, or even a vision of exactly what I wanted to do.
This isn’t something that I would really recommend, but it’s led to some great lessons over time. Today, I’m going to dive into some of the lessons that I’ve learned about finding new opportunities through pivoting in business.
But first, a little back story: Hi, Chrissy here...I started freelancing via some of the popular quote-type sites, which I quickly realized were not particularly well-paying. However, that opportunity gave me my first opportunity to pivot: instead of relying on the number of proposals I could send in an hour through generic outreach, I started to focus on making connections and reaching out to businesses and individuals I was excited to work with.
Quickly, my business grew to the point where I was working almost exclusively with and for female-owned online entrepreneurs.
I was able to work on exciting client projects for them or with them on their own businesses doing online marketing, Facebook ads and PPC work.
At this point, I was also deeply unhappy at my current job, and began to make plans to go into full-time solopreneurship. However, just as things began to thrive, though, I had another opportunity to pivot again.
As a mom to three young kids, freelancing was an outlet I loved.
I loved exploring different aspects of businesses and seeing clients succeed. But at the same time, I craved the stability of a regular income and a job that allowed me to focus on the tasks instead of finding clients, plus I had an opportunity fall into my lap that provided amazing benefits, great coworkers, and was a product that I believed in.
Again, I decided to pivot and closed up my shop while I focused on raising my kids, getting my MBA and settling into my new full time job.
About a year after I was in my role at work, my MBA program was concluding and I once again had the opportunity to make a pivot to another opportunity, this time into One Woman Shop as one of the co-owners.
While some One Woman Shop owners dream of running their business full time, my dream has always been to use my business to help others build strong businesses, and One Woman Shop allows me to do that. At the same time, my dream has never been to leave my job--I love what I do, I love the variety of people I interact with and the combination of stability and flexibility that it provides.
All of these pivots and shifts have taught me three important lessons:
1. Relationships are invaluable in having doors open to you and opportunities to make pivots
Every single pivot that I’ve made in my solopreneur journey has been a result of someone reaching out and offering me an opportunity, or me reaching out to someone that I had an existing relationship with.
My friends joke that, like Barney from How I Met Your Mother, I’ve “got a guy” (or more likely a girl!) for any situation.
Cultivating relationships is a two-way street, so for every opportunity that I’ve been offered, I try to make sure I am sending referrals, tips, information, or just general support in the other direction.
If you’ve focused a lot on cold leads and general advertising, I’d take a few minutes and think about a few key relationships you can cultivate. Those relationships will blossom into opportunities you never saw coming.
2. Having clear values is different than having a clear roadmap, and having values allows you to pivot while staying true to your ultimate goals.
We’ve talked on the blog before about defining your values and the importance of knowing your goals. For me, I had a few key goals when I started freelancing:
- Pay off some old debt, like my husband’s student loans. With three kids in daycare at the time, our income was enough to keep us afloat but we weren’t really getting ahead. Freelancing was a way for me boost our income and knock out debt out faster.
- Learn and refine my marketable skills outside the non-profit realm. Up until last year, I spent my entire career working with nonprofits, which is something I adored. However, I also knew one of my other long term goals was to find a job that allows my family to travel more extensively, and most nonprofit jobs didn’t fit that bill. Plus, I truly believe you can help people in so many ways outside the non-profit realm that I really wanted to build some marketable skills
- Find a job that I was passionate about doing. As I mentioned earlier, I was burned out at my old job and really dreaded going to work. I used to drop my kids off at daycare, drive to work and just sit in my car for a few minutes psyching myself to go in. I was in need of a change.
- Be able to travel more. I love to travel, and so does our whole family. I wanted a job that afforded me the freedom to travel alone with friends, travel with my husband, and travel with our kids. Last summer, we were able to spend a week in Guatemala and 2020 is shaping up to be a big year of travel for us. We’re planning on a 12 week full summer stay somewhere as our kids get older, and I wanted a job that could travel with me.
Having all these values defined allowed me to look at each of these opportunities to pivot through this lens: Would this opportunity foster my values?
Each time, I only said yes if it was something that truly met all four of those criteria.
Your values may be totally different than mine--maybe you want to be able to stay home with your kids more, or define your own hours and work a 20 hour week, or maybe you want to build a million dollar brand. Having the lens through which you evaluate opportunities allows you to make pivots that work for your brand.
3. Surrounding yourself with people you trust and who can help you clarify your goals.
For me, working with a business strategist who focused on the intersection of motherhood and business was astoundingly clarifying.
I trusted her to help me think through big decisions, define my goals, plan my year and even stop spending money on courses and products and just.start.working (ever been there?!). She was the person throughout all of my pivots I could send an email to and process through all of this.
Spoiler: Our members will all get a chance to work with her this December as a member benefit. If you haven’t signed up for the waitlist to join us in November now.is.the.time!
At the end of the day, your goals and the goals that other people tell you to have can be very different. Only your goals matter.
As you have opportunities that come up, I hope that you are able to look at them with a new perspective and define what really matters to you.
And, if you’re a One Woman Shop member, you can always ask the group for feedback on those opportunities, plus build some of those new relationships that will help your business grow!