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BUSINESS STRATEGY

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Pivot Your Business

5 questions to ask yourself before pivoting your business - tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners who are ready for the next step in their business.

Have you ever been at a place in your business when you felt like you needed to change? Maybe you're constantly stressed out, maybe you're not making enough money, maybe you just feel called to do something different! If yes, you need to use these five questions to ask yourself before your pivot your business.

I've been there, done that. Multiple times.

Sometimes, it's an easy decision. But more often than not, pivoting your business is more complicated than it seems. You can't just decide one day to change things up and leave your current customers / clients behind in the dust…

When it may be time to pivot

It may be time to pivot when you're not getting the results you want – maybe you've reached a plateau, or worse, your sales have been declining.

It may be time to pivot when you're no longer passionate about what you've been doing and you want to do something different.

It may be time to pivot when you're regularly dealing with burnout, stress, anxiety, or other physical / mental / emotional issues that are affecting your quality of life.

It may be time to pivot when your audience has grown / changed and you can better serve them in a different way.

There are a lot of reasons why it may be time to pivot your business – and knowing when it's time can make a huge difference in how happy / how successful / how stressed you are as a business owner.

How do you know when it's the “right” time – unfortunately there's no universal answer to that, but if you've been thinking about making a change, changes are… it's already the right time. I've never regretted pivoting in business or in life… but I have regretted not pivoting sooner!

5 questions to ask yourself before you pivot your business

If you're not quite sure if it's the right time to pivot your business OR you are ready to pivot but you're not sure what's next – these 5 questions can help you figure things out –

What do I really enjoy / not enjoy doing (and why)?

One of my priorities as a business owner is doing things that make ME happy. I'm guessing you started your business for some kind of freedom – whether you wanted to create your own hours or choose your own clients or work from wherever… but along the way, you might have fallen into the trap of doing things you don't really love doing – just because other people were willing to pay you for them! #beentheredonethat

I was totally guilty of this in my first year of business. I offered Instagram consulting sessions and then people would ask if I could just manage their Instagram for them… so I did. But one of the reasons I started my business was to get away from the day-to-day social media management that I was doing at my previous job, so I totally did NOT want to do this! I said yes – partially because I knew I COULD do it, but mostly because I didn't want to turn down potential clients, but eventually I realized how much I didn't really enjoy this part of my business and I stopped doing it.

If you're unhappy in your business, sit down and make a list of the things that you actually enjoy doing and the things that you don't enjoy doing, then figure out if you can eliminate, automate, or outsource the things that you hate so you can focus on doing what you love!

What are people actually paying me for?

Ok, #realtalk – if you're offering services that no one is hiring you for or selling products that no one is buying, it might be time to pivot. On the flip side, if a certain revenue stream is doing better than the others, you might want to focus on that rather than #allthethings (seriously, don't do #allthethings).

One of the reasons I quit teaching online courses at the end of 2016 is that my revenue from the Styled Stock Society was growing much faster and I knew that if I put more effort into that part of my business I would actually be happier (and more profitable).

Do the things that make you happy but also do the things that actually put money in your bank account! 

What do I want to be doing (that I’m not already)?

Sometimes pivoting is driven by a desire to do something different – and that's a totally a valid reason. But just because you want to do something different, that doesn't mean that it's a a “better” option. If you think you want to start doing something different, it's important to do market research to make sure that your new offer is something that people actually want. Assuming you have current clients / customers or any type of community, survey them to see if they would be interested in it. It's much easier to sell something to your existing audience than to find an entirely new audience.

if you want to pivot in a completely different direction (where your new target audience would have no overlap with your current audience), then you still need to do your research but you'll have to look outside your current clients / customers. Tap into other communities where your new target audience might hang out and make sure you're connecting with at least a few people who can verify that there's a need for the new product or service that you want to offer.

Either way, if you're pivoting in a new direction, I definitely recommend beta testing or pre-launching your offer to get feedback and validation before you go all in. I was NOT a photographer when I launched the Styled Stock Society, but I knew it was something I wanted to try, so I emailed my existing audience with a pre-launch offer to validate interest before I ever took a single photo or created a sales page for the SSS. You definitely don't have to have everything figured out before you put it out into the world to see if people are interested!

How can I better serve my audience?

In certain cases, it may be time to pivot because of changes in your audience's needs. This is something that I've especially seen over time – when you've been in business for a while, YOU have changed so it shouldn't be a surprise that your audience has changed too! If you think back to what your needs were 2/3 years ago, they are probably different now. For example, most of the Styled Stock Society members are 0-2 years into their business and can't afford custom photography whereas my custom photography clients are typically more established and have the budget to hire me for custom work.

You may find that you're audience wants more from you or you may find that your audience needs help with step one (when you were focused on helping them with step 2). I've heard from many of my web design friends that often when clients come to them for new websites, they actually need help with their brand strategy before diving into any brand design work. Or maybe your audience has grown so much that it makes more sense to transition from a one-to-one model to a one-to-many business model in order to be able to help more people – that's a great “problem” to have!

I can't state it enough – surveying your audience is SO important – make sure you're doing what YOU want but also giving them what they want!

What do I need to let go of in order to move forward?

Last but not least, unless you have tons of free time on your hands, chances are you're going to have to let go of something to move forward in a new direction. Whether you plan to stop offering a service in order to launch a new one or you scale back some other part of your business to allow for new growth, make sure you're planning for the new time you'll be investing in the pivot.

When I started to focus on styling + photography, I stopped taking on new consulting clients. I was willing to take a “pay cut” in one area of my business knowing that I would have more time to dedicate to growing something else – and that has definitely paid off! That doesn't mean that I will never take on another consulting client again (although I might not!) – but when I was first making the change in my business, I knew that I needed to spend less time on something in order to move forward.

Ready to pivot your business?

Take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself – or, if you've successfully pivoted in the past, comment with any other tips!

5 Tips to Maximize Productivity and Profitability

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability for busy entrepreneurs

This post contains affiliate links for tools I use and recommend which means at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. 

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability

If you're anything like me, you've probably got a lot of things going on in your life. Maybe you're still trying to balance a 9-5 job with a 5-9 side hustle. Maybe you're in school and drowning in homework or you have kids who need constant attention or you have a busy travel schedule… whatever you have going on – I feel ya! So today I'm sharing 5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability – so you can spend less time working and more time living!

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by #allthethings but I HATE, HATE, REALLY HATE hearing the excuse “I don't have time for that” when it comes to things in your business.

If you don't MAKE time for your business, then you don't have a business.

Whether you have 5 hours a week or 50 hours a week to work on your business, you can make time for the things you really NEED to do, but you have to FOCUS!

I run 3 businesses working 3 weeks a month. It's not always easy and there are definitely days or weeks when I feel like I have too much on my plate, but I make it work because I love what I do (and honestly I really love working… but I know it's not healthy to be working all the time)!

When you have limited time to work, you HAVE to use that time productively. But busy does not equal productive. You can embrace the pomodoro method and turn off notifications and bullet journal your way into thinking that you're being productive, but if your productivity does not translate into profitability, then you're doing it wrong.

5 tips to maximize productivity and profitability

Prioritize

I feel insanely strongly about prioritizing. If you don't know your priorities, you waste a ton of time trying to figure what to do. You also waste time on tasks that aren't really that important. And you probably spend a stupid amount of time thinking about #allthethings you need to do because you haven't narrowed down your insane to do list to the few priorities that actually matter.

If you're thinking ok, great but how do I actually figure out what my priorities are? Or how do I make time to focus on them? Here are a few things that work for me:

Focus on one income stream at a time. Most entrepreneurs have a bunch of different things going on. Maybe you have a few different services.. or you have one on one services as well as sell digital products.. or you have a membership and a shop and you're also trying to make income from affiliates.. or all of the above.. I get it. Back in 2016 I was consulting and launching courses and selling digital products and when I finally quit trying to do everything at once I doubled my income by focusing on one thing – the Styled Stock Society. That doesn't mean it's my only income stream (don't put all your eggs in one basket and all that), but if you're being pulled in too many different directions you're probably not doing anything as best as you can, so I would say – take a step back, and prioritize one income stream at a time. Focus on getting booked out with one on one clients THEN think about launching that course. Focus on optimizing your online shop to the point that you have a steady stream of daily customers THEN think about creating that subscription program. Just focus on one thing at a time!

Focus on the marketing channels that convert. My clients and customers find me mainly through Pinterest + Instagram so I spend ZERO time on Facebook and Twitter. The only reason my Facebook and Twitter are even active is automation (and a bit of outsourcing) but really, it's a waste of my time to spend time on marketing that doesn't really matter. My highest converting marketing channel is my email list so I commit to emailing my subscribers regularly. If I miss a few days posting on Instagram or take a break from blogging, it's not the end of the world because I know that I'm still reaching my audience through emails. I don't care if everyone is telling you that you should to be doing Facebook Lives or you should have a Youtube channel or you should start a podcast – you SHOULDN'T be spending time on marketing that isn't converting!

Focus on 2-3 priority tasks each day and get them done first. I'm the type of person who lives for my to-do list but the fastest way to get me feeling overwhelmed is seeing #allthethings that I need to do. My priority tasks are things that are essential to my business and typically take 1-3 hours to complete. For me, priority tasks are things like shooting Styled Stock Society collections, editing client photos, or writing email newsletters. Priority tasks are NOT things like making quick website edits, responding to non-urgent emails, or checking social media notifications. Priority tasks get done first. Period. If that means I don't get to responding to a non-urgent email for days #sorrynotsorry

Systemize

Anything you do on a regular basis should be systemized. When you have systems for things, you don't waste time thinking about “what's next” because you always know. When you have systems, you create a more streamlined experience for yourself but also your clients / customers. Systems could be anything from how you publish new blog posts to how you onboard new clients to how you create social media graphics to how you categorize + respond to emails.

There are a lot of ways to document and implement your systems, but most of my systems are mapped out in Asana so I can easily duplicate workflows or share templates with my team.

Having systems in place also makes it easier to figure out where you can automate work or outsource it to someone else – which brings me to…

You can embrace the pomodoro method and turn off notifications and bullet journal your way into thinking that you're being productive, but if your productivity does not translate into profitability, then you're doing it wrong.Click To Tweet

Automate

If you aren't using any sort of automation in your business I guarantee you are wasting time! You cannot (and should not) do everything yourself, so taking advantage of the tools that can help you run your business on autopilot should be a no brainer. A few things I automate in my business –

I automate Twitter / Facebook posts using SmarterQueue* (just set up your social posts once and they can recycle automatically!)

I automate a series of emails to anyone who downloads my free stock photos so they are introduced to the Styled Stock Society

I automate a series of emails (using Convertkit*) to anyone who signs up as an SSS affiliate so they get follow-up resources

I automate an initial response to any support requests we receive so that customers know what to expect (+ are also directed to our FAQ page where they might get answers even quicker!)

Most of the tools I use to automate in my business involve paying a small monthly fee (and if you click on any of the * links above, I may earn a small commission), but the amount of time I save by automating parts of my business is worth WAYYY MORE than the price I pay!

SmarterQueue - evergreen social media scheduling tool

Outsource:

As a self-proclaimed control freak, outsourcing has probably been the hardest thing for me to do on this list. But here's the thing – you are not the best at everything. There are certain things in your business that someone else can do better / faster / more efficiently – so why are you wasting your time trying to do them? There are also things you probably HATE doing – but someone else actually likes doing it. I love numbers but I still hate doing accounting. I personally I also hate doing a lot of “chores” so I outsource a lot of things in my personal life (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) Then there are probably a bunch of tasks that you can do and you don't mind doing… but they're just not the best use of your time. These are the the types of things that have been hardest for me to delegate (because again, I'm kind of a control freak), but honesty, I just know that for me, outsourcing things like copywriting / creating blog post graphics / scheduling social media allows me to focus on other things that I really don't trust other people to do.

#realtalk I know that if I only want to work 3 weeks per month, there's no way I have time to do it all. Overall, I outsource around 20 hours of work a month to other people, but if I tried to do everything that they do myself, I would probably be spending an additional 30-40 hours working because I'd be doing things I wasn't good at and/or things I didn't enjoy doing!

From a profitability standpoint, everything I outsource is worth my time. If my time is worth $300/hour and my VA charges $40/hour for a task that would take me 2 hours to do (yet it only takes her 45 minutes because she actually enjoys doing it), then it obviously makes sense to outsource it… but only if I'm using the time I “saved” in a productive way!

Batching

Last but not least… for all those things you are actually doing yourself and not automating / outsourcing, doing them in batches can save you a ton of time. You know how when you switch from one task to another it takes you a bit of time to get “in the zone” – when you batch your tasks you don't have to waste time getting in the zone because you STAY in the zone. You don't bake 1 cookie every time you want a cookie, right?! You do all the prep work for a whole batch of cookies and then make them at once because it would be silly to put in all the work for ONE FREAKING COOKIE (and who actually eats only one cookie?!) – the same idea can be applied to things in your business. Instead of making 1 blog post graphic, plan your blog posts for the month and create all your graphics at once. Instead of pinning whenever you can squeeze in time, spend an hour scheduling all of your pins for the entire month (this is totally possible)! Instead of taking a photo for Instagram every day, batch your photos once a month so you always have something to post (or ya know, you could save even more time and just buy stock photos ;)

So those are my tips to maximize productivity and profitability so you can spend less time working and more time living. Because I didn't start my business so I could work a million hours and I'm guessing you didn't either! Do you have other tips for maximizing productivity + profitability? Share in the comments!

SmarterQueue - evergreen social media scheduling tool

Tools I use for productivity: SmarterQueue* (get a free 30 day trial!), Tailwind* (schedule a whole month of pins for free!), Asana (it's free!), Convertkit* (try it free for 14 days!)

2018 Goals + Why I Rebranded

2018 goals + why I rebranded from wonderfelle to my name.

If you've followed me for awhile, you might have noticed a few changes recently…

I rebranded!

In case you didn't know, my name is Elle Drouin (you might know me as “Elle from wonderfelle”) and while I've owned this domain for years, I have sort of been “hiding” behind the wonderfelle brand.

For 2018, my word is VISIBILITY.

I feel like I've done a “good” job at growing my business, but honestly, most of my marketing has been pretty passive – I'm much more comfortable behind my computer screen or behind a camera, but I think that more personal connection, more active marketing, and more VISIBILITY overall can only lead to being able to help more people through my business (and also more revenue).

“wonderfelle world” was actually the name of my (unrelated) blog many years ago, so when I started my business I just kept the first part of the name and turned it into wonderfelle MEDIA. As my business has evolved, I felt like there are a few different entities (and a few different websites) but none of them were really “me” – I originally thought my business could evolve into more of an agency model so naming it after something other than myself made sense, but after launching the Styled Stock Society and growing the Mochi and the City brands, I felt like my personal brand was sort of lost in the mix…

Since this is my main website, I decided to rebrand to make it a better representation of well, me!

Regardless of how my business shifts in the future, I think that this change makes the most sense for me moving forward. Whether I'm styling / photographing / consulting or doing something totally different down the line, my name isn't going to change!

So here's a quick rundown of updates / where you can find me online / what to expect in the future – 

Elle Drouin

This will be my main website and where you can find more information about how we can work together. I'll continue to share business / marketing tips on my blog as well as more behind the scenes lessons from my own businesses.

Any old links should be redirecting to the new site, but if you come across any links that aren't working, let us know and we'll make sure they are updated!

You can get in touch with me directly via elle(at)elledrouin.com + follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook (note that my handles are all now @elledrouin instead of @wonderfelle)!

Styled Stock Society

The Styled Stock Society has become more of it's own sub-brand with a separate website and a (new!) separate Instagram where I'll be sharing more sneak peeks at Styled Stock Society collections as well as behind the scenes from our shoots. Next month we'll also be launching the Styled Stock Society blog where we'll be sharing branding and photography tips so stay tuned for that!

For customer support or questions about the Styled Stock Society – please email support(at)styledstocksociety.com and a team member will be in touch.

Mochi and the City 

And last but not least, I have big plans for growing Mochi's brand in 2018 – if you're not already familiar, Mochi is my 3 year old maltipoo pup and she's kinda famous on Instagram. Next month we're working on rebranding HER website, launching the Mochi and the City guide to NYC, and our first physical products!

If you're interested in collaborating with Mochi, feel free to reach out to us at mochiandthecity(at)gmail.com (if you think it's weird that she has her own email, you'd probably be surprised to know she also has her own phone too)!

2018 goals

I have a mix of professional and personal goals because, to be honest, they are often intertwined for me! I've built my business intentionally to enjoy certain freedoms (like being able to work wherever/whenever), but that also means planning work around life and vice versa (like planning trips around brand collaborations). These are a few of my “bigger” goals for the year that will guide what I focus on and how I manage my time, but I tend to break things down quarter by quarter to actually get things done!

1) As a mentioned before, my word of the year is visibility – so to quantify the ways in which I aim to be more visible, my visibility goals are 12 podcast interviews, 6 speaking engagements, and literally being visible (showing my face) on Instagram stories 100 times this year. Just typing that out makes me uncomfortable, but I'm pretty sure pushing myself out of my comfort zone is a good thing!

2) I have an income goal in mind, but rather than sharing that, I think it's more important to focus on the things that I'm doing to actually achieve that goal. One of the things that has had the biggest impact on growing my income is growing my email list, so my goal for 2018 is 40,000 email subscribers. I still have some planning to do in terms of mapping out where all these new subscribers are coming from, but I am confident that if I put in the effort, this is a reasonable goal for the year!

3) This year I also want to commit to only working 3 weeks per month. Last fall I started working fewer days and intentionally taking a week or so “off” to travel each month, and I've really loved having that time away from work. For me, this makes more sense than taking Fridays off or taking a longer vacation a few times a year, but I am not always great about “not working” while I'm traveling, so I do want to make sure that I'm scheduling in non-working days too. I find that when I have some time for myself, I'm more inspired and more motivated on the days that I do work, so I guess focusing more on self-care is tied into this goal as well!

4) On a related note, this year I want to take at least 8 trips + 4 staycations. I'm not differentiating between work / personal trips because they are usually a mix of both, but I really want to take advantage of having the flexibility to work from wherever as well as do more travel partnerships with Mochi.

5) Last but not least, I ‘d want to a collaborate with other businesses at least once a quarter. When I say collaborate, I'm thinking larger scale collaborations like custom Styled Stock Society collections or joint venture partnerships that are more than just doing a webinar or an Instagram story takeover. I actually just added this to my list of goals so I have no specific ideas in mind yet – so if you're reading this and want to collab, get in touch!

I'd love to hear your goals for the year as well – let me know in the comments!