I went to Boston University with the intention of becoming a Creative Director for an advertising agency. This was 12+ years ago, and the first time in my life it actually seemed a feasible idea that I could build a career of my choosing. It was a good time to be a creative type – the “dot com boom” was in full effect, and the job market seemed promising. And then graduation rolled around in 2004 and the job market took a nose dive. Economic realities forced a lot of us to pivot and rethink the difference between what we wanted out of our careers, and what we could actually attain.
And then it happened again in 2008 or so, not long before I started this company – I held onto a job I hated a little longer than expected, in the hopes that it would help me salvage my entrepreneurial dreams. Again, time to pivot and look realistically at what a downturn economy meant for aspiring entrepreneurs, freelancers, and pretty much everyone else who had their hearts set on “doing something better”. But it’s not always at the hands of a downturn economy or crappy job market that you will encounter the need to pivot, to make changes and course-correct in your business. The truth is, it’s a natural part of the cycle, as you start to recognize changing trends in the market place, in the needs of your core customers, or even stumble upon a new market segment whom you can serve, or a new product or service that can offer value to your existing audience.
Changing course in business to fit a new or changing need does not translate to failure at the previous process you had in place. It’s simply the way smart and successful businesses run, with a willingness to adapt and be flexible. Individuals who can do this in the workforce are just as successful in managing their careers.
From my own experience, let me offer some examples of where it’s not only okay, but sometimes necessary to embrace change and pivot your business:
- Giving your logo, marketing materials, website or overall brand identity a complete visual overhaul to better appeal to your audience.
- Recognizing that your niche is over-saturated, and the products or services you offer can be of value to a different audience. Every career consultant or coach from here to Namibia wanted to focus on unemployed milliennials in 2009. I found bigger opportunities in serving senior-level professionals who are changing career paths at 40+.
- Investing in hiring staff to help you offload the non-core tasks, so you can focus on the growing demand for your services that you’re suddenly experiencing.
- Recognizing when a product is not selling well within your market. Even if you poured your heart and soul into developing it, sometimes it’s time to simply let it go, get an understanding of where it fell short, and how you can build a better product from that knowledge.
- Letting go of partnerships or affiliations that no longer serve the growth needs of your business in return for the time and resource investment you’re making.
- Splitting your business into separate brands, so you can better serve your core audiences by offering more targeted solutions. Hence the birth of Brooklyn Resume Studio this past Summer.
The success of your business rides on a careful balance of offering products that demonstrate tangible value, strategic marketing practices that build visibility and credibility, appropriate pricing, and the ebb and flow of both the market and your target audience. That’s a lot of variables. If you learn to be flexible in your business and to adapt to change, voluntary or involuntary, you will set yourself up for much greater success and sustainability than trying to ride it out to avoid the stigma you’ve attached to the idea of change.