2022 update – I originally wrote this blog in 2019, I’m pleased to say my decision to pivot has been the best business decision I’ve made and 3 years on, I’m still just as passionate about my clients and their businesses. I’ve added an update to the end of the article with a few tips on how you too can pivot in your business. Hopefully, someone reading this will be inspired to take the leap! Let me know if you do!
Hey! So I thought, first things first, I should tell you a bit about who I am, what my business is, and why now, after 10 fairly successful years in business, I decided to change the entire focus of my core business.
About 10 years ago now I started my business, Creative Resauce. It was started from necessity. I’d been working at a design agency for 5 years when the GFC hit. Looking back now I can see the owner of the agency was probably under huge pressure, but for whatever reason, after 5 years of loving working there and feeling valued and appreciated, I was slowly but surely pushed out of the business until I had little choice but to quit.
I wasn’t sure what to do and where to go. Getting a job in another small to mid-sized agency wasn’t appealing as I knew many were struggling and I had just purchased my first home only a month prior. I also didn’t want to try and find work in a large agency. I’d heard so many horror stories about graphic designers having to work well into the night to meet deadlines, and with a beloved furbaby waiting for me at home, this lifestyle just didn’t appeal.
So with a great leap of faith and some help from my parents, I decided to start my own business. I worked from my lounge room in my one-bedroom apartment in Potts Points and truth be told, I loved it! I had built up fantastic relationships with many people over the years and so with word of mouth, finding new clients wasn’t too hard. Due to the fact I had basically no overheads, I was able to compete on price so in a few months I had work flowing in.
The problem was, my prices were SO low, I was working literally round the clock to make ends meet and keep up with demand.
This was fine when I was a single gal with nothing else to take up my time. But sure enough, about 3 years into my business I met the man of my dreams and things started to change. The first year was fine as he worked long hours too, but almost to the day of our first anniversary I fell pregnant and that’s where things started to unravel.
Our first child is now about to turn 5 and starting school next year and our youngest is almost 2. The last 5 years have, to say the least, been a massive struggle, both financially and just the juggle of trying to keep clients happy and money coming in the door.
I had a great list of corporate clients and had semi-regular work from them, but due to the way I had run my business for the first 5 years they wanted me to be able to drop everything for them at a moment’s notice and to deliver high quality, creative work, that I was also massively undercharging for!
It wasn’t sustainable. And for the first time, I wasn’t enjoying it.
I felt trapped though because, with two young children, I didn’t have the time (or, let’s face it, the energy) to change what I was doing. Getting a job wasn’t an option as with the cost of childcare, I would be making even less money if I put the kids in daycare. So for the last few years, while our daughter has grown from our first baby to our big girl and we’ve had our second baby and watched him turn into a beautiful little boy, I have stuck it out, sucked it up and basically taken what I could get from the large corporates and marketing managers I had contacting me.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVE being able to work with big corporates on large campaigns, but not having the ability to ever say ‘no, I can’t deliver that for the price you want’, was incredibly stressful and creatively draining.
And so to the reason I decided to pivot!
With our youngest about to turn two, and FINALLY sleeping through the night, I started to find myself imaging what I would like to do with my business, who I would love to be working with, what work I would love to be doing and who I felt like I could most serve.
I realised that the work I am MOST passionate about and the people I most enjoy working with are other women! Whether they are mums or not, I find I can always form a connection and find common ground when discussing their business and how we can work together to achieve what they want.
I’d been messing around in Squarespace for years and loved creating sites for friends and family. I started building a new website for myself (having not even had one for years!!) and as I was doing it, I thought, hey, I should be doing this for other women! There’s nothing that gives me more happiness than being able to create a website for another businesswoman that enables them to proudly go out and market themselves and their business.
I truly believe, that when you are armed with tools that represent who you are and what you do, that talk to the people you want to be working with and represent your business in its best light, then you feel so much more confident about putting yourself out there!
And so, I decided to pivot. I am still in the early stages of this and so am still incredibly grateful for every piece of work that comes my way from my old clients. But I gotta tell you, when I connect with another business women, just starting out, or wanting to give her established business a boost, I get so excited! The creative juices really start flowing and I want to do everything I possibly can to deliver to them the marketing tools they have always dreamed of.
Hopefully, some of this resonates with a few of you. Taking that next step in business, whether it’s starting up, pivoting, or levelling up, is a daunting task. But my goal is to work with women wanting to do just that, and I hope I can be there with you every step of the way…
2022 update – How you too can pivot in your business
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I first wrote this in 2019. Three years on and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. So, for any women out there, thinking about making a change in their business, here are my top 5 tips for making it a successful transition.
Educate yourself! – By this I mean, learn everything you can about the industry you want to move into, both by learning the skills required to offer that product or service, but also about the industry in general. What sort of people will you be working with? How saturated is the market? What is the longevity of the career path? How much earning potential is there? And most importantly, what level of experience will people expect you to have before they hand over their hard-earned money to work with you?
Take it slow! – As much as we’d all love to dive headfirst into our newfound passion, most of us also have to keep putting food on the table. Consider how you can keep earning money in your current position while you start dipping your toes into your new passion. Do you need to study in order to move into this new career? Can you do that at night while still working in your current job?
Tell the world! – When you decide to change careers it’s natural for some of us to have imposter syndrome. Maybe you’re not sure if you have what it takes, you’re not confident with your abilities yet, or perhaps you even see it as a failure? But you will be amazed at how many of your friends will be excited for you and help you spread the word when you decide to try something you are truly passionate about. A lot of my first clients came from word of mouth and it’s still my biggest marketing avenue to date.
Don’t work for free (but don’t charge the earth) – When you are just starting out, it’s sometimes tempting to offer to work for free in order to get experience. However, I can tell you that this is never the best way, both for yourself, but also for your clients. Learn from my mistakes and remember your worth. Even if it’s a much smaller amount than what you hope to earn down the track, attaching value to what you deliver will not only make you feel better about your decision to pivot in business, but it will also mean your clients attach value to it also. The clients whose websites I did for free, won’t as motivated to make that website work for them as a marketing tool and as such, their businesses won’t as successful. Once I started charging more for my work, my clients also attached value to what I delivered and were more motivated to see a return on their investment, which in turn, meant a more successful outcome for them.
Believe in yourself – There are inevitably going to be times along the way when you doubt yourself and wonder if changing your business was the right decision. But if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will! Keep focussed on why you made this decision in the first place and what the end goal is. Usually, it’s long-term happiness, and isn’t that the greatest thing we can all hope for in our work?