sales 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!

How to Maximize Your Holiday Sale Revenue

Tips on how to maximize the revenue from your holiday sales - from promotion to affiliates to leveraging FOMO, make the most out of your holiday promotions with these strategies!

It’s the most wonderful SALE time of the year.

You might have planned a black friday / cyber monday / pre-holiday / post-holiday sale in hopes of giving your customers a treat – and let’s be real – also in hopes of ending the year with more money in the bank! To make the best of the sale, you need to learn how to maximize your holiday sale revenue.

But sometimes sales don’t go as well as you’d hoped. You put the offer out into the world thinking people are DEFINITELY going to take advantage of it… and then crickets. Or maybe you get a couple more orders than normal, but it’s not the outcome you had hoped for.

Some people might tell you to not run sales / not discount whatever you are selling….

I am not one of those people.

I think sales or special promotions can be a great way to boost your revenue / get rid of excess inventory / incentivize your customers to take action… but there’s more to a sale than creating a discount code and sending an email or posting about it on social media.

In the past I’ve run Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales on physical products, digital products, and online courses and November / December are usually my highest earning income months of the year! This year was was a bit exceptional in that I had my biggest revenue driving sale ever… I earned what would be equal to about 2 months of my “normal” recurring income in just 1 weekend – without launching anything new! 

Ok #RealTalk – the week before Thanksgiving I ended up getting super sick and having about 5 million tech issues. I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do to prep for my sales, and I definitely ended up working on Thanksgiving Day for a few hours… but overall I’m happy with the way things went. In 4 days, I ended up earning almost 3x more than my original sales goal, so I’ve done some reflecting on what I did right / what I could have done better because you best believe I’m going to set even higher goals for the next holiday sale season!

Tips to maximize your holiday sale revenue (and what not to do)! 

1) Know your customers 

For a sale to be effective, you have to know what your customers want – is it a % off discount, free shipping, a value-based offer like a bundle or bonus, etc? Don’t just assume that the offer you want to make is the one that people want… if you’ve run sales or promotions in the past, make sure you’re keeping track of which ones were more successful than others. If you’re not sure what your customers want, ask them. Run customer surveys or Instagram polls or straight up just ASK people would they would prefer. Just because a particular sale worked well for another business doesn’t mean it will work for you!

On that note, I’m also going to say that while doing what has worked before is generally a good idea… sometimes trying something new is even better. This year I wanted to do a promotion with a $199 price point, but I knew my audience is more likely to buy something when the price point is under $100 – so I tried 2 different sales. Ultimately the $199 sale resulted in more revenue (even though the total number of sales was lower) because the price point was significantly higher! BUT I also knew that a lot of my customers didn’t like paying recurring fees so offering a 1 time payment for a lifetime membership was something that appealed to them!

2) Build up excitement

Similar to how brands build excitement before a big launch, you can built anticipation around your sales. Letting your audience know ahead of time that there will be a sale can help them plan ahead from both a time and budget perspective, and it also gives them time to think about what they want to buy. You can share the specific details of your sale or keep them a mystery, but either way, letting your customers know that something is coming helps them to be better prepared!

For my cyber weekend sales, I started “teasing” my audience about 7-10 days ahead of time to let them know that I would be running special promotions for black friday / cyber monday. This can also help to reduce the number of people who make purchases right before a sale period and then ask for price adjustments (whether you allow price adjustments or not, those customer service hours are precious during a sale, so do what you can to reduce them)!

3) Arm your affiliates

If you have affiliates or brand ambassadors (or even just business besties who love to share the word), it’s also a good idea to let them know ahead of time if you are running a sale so that they have time to plan for any promotion they want to do. I emailed my affiliates about a week before my cyber weekend sales letting them know the sale details as well as providing graphics that they could use to make their lives easier. I also sent a reminder the day before Thanksgiving knowing that it was a busy week for a lot of people, and honestly, I would have sent another reminder after the sales had gone live… but I totally forgot!

4) Schedule social posts in advance

Assuming you’re sharing about your sale on social media, try to schedule as many of your posts in advance as you can. While a sale is happening you’re probably getting more orders / questions / etc. than usual, and if you’re also trying to enjoy some of holidays yourself, it can be very overwhelming! Instead of trying to remember to post on Instagram between servings of turkey and pie, take some time to create and schedule your social posts in advance so that you aren’t scrambling during the sale (or forgetting to share completely)!

Remember those graphics I created for my affiliates to use to promote the sale? Well I used them for myself too! This saved a ton of time and also just made it easier for all of my sales visuals to look cohesive no matter who was sharing them!

Don't just assume that the offer you want to make is the one that people want… if you've run sales or promotions in the past, make sure you're keeping track of which ones were more successful than others.Click To Tweet

5) Optimize your website for conversions

Not everyone is going to come to your website because they saw a sale promo on social media or clicked through an email where you shared in the sale info. To maximize conversions during your sale, make sure your website is optimized so that new visitors know of any promotions going on. That might mean adding a “sticky” bar at the top of every page (I use Sumo for this), updating your website graphics, or adding promo code details near any “buy now” buttons.

6) Make it easy for customers to ask questions

If you find that a lot of people are coming to your sales pages but not buying, it might be because they have unanswered questions and aren’t ready to make a purchase. Make it easy for customers to get their questions answered by either directing them to a contact form or FAQ page or using a support chat tool like Drift or Pure Chat to easily answer customer questions when they’re on your sales page.

Halfway through my cyber weekend sale weekend, I added a chat option using Drift (for free!) and had a few potential customers who were on the fence get their questions answered in real time!

7) Send more emails than you’re comfortable with

If you’re using email marketing during a busy sale season like black friday / cyber monday / any major sales holiday, you have to remember that everyone’s inboxes are overflowing with emails. People see your emails and don’t open them because they are busy / they get distracted / they forget / etc. so if you’re just sending a single email to tell people about your sale… you’re missing out on potential sales from the majority of your audience! You may feel like it’s annoying to send multiple emails, but the truth is that most people are not seeing every single email – and the people that get annoyed and unsubscribe were probably never going to buy from you anyway!

During my 4 day sale period I sent 6 emails and 2 of those emails I actually re-sent to anyone who hadn’t opened them within 12 hours… so that’s basically 2 emails a day over a 4 day period. Yes, that seems like a lot. Yes, it sort of made me uncomfortable. Yes, I had a bunch of people unsubscribe (less than 1% of subscribers overall). But most importantly, every single time I sent an email, I got a new influx of sales. 

8) Remember FOMO is real

Fact: people don’t like missing out on a deal. Every time I run a sale, I get emails after the promotion ends from people who missed out who BEG to get the discount. Using countdown timers like Motion Mail can help customers visualize how much (or how little) time they have left – there’s a reason a lot of brands use countdown timers – they work! FOMO is real and you are not “taking advantage of” your customers by reminding them that your offer expires.. so they need to act NOW!

So those are my 8 tips for maximizing holiday sale revenue – what other tips do you have for increasing conversions during a sale?!

3 Things I Did to Grow My Business This Year

3 things I did to increase my revenue this year - how I streamlined my biz and focused on a few small changes that doubled my recurring revenue.

This post contains affiliate links for resources 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. 

In my last post I shared 3 things I quit doing to grow my business this year, but if you skimmed that post you might have thought – ok, so she quit a bunch of things, but how did that ACTUALLY grow her business?! Just “quitting” some things didn’t just magically increase my revenue – but it was quitting these things that gave me the time and motivation to focus on other things in my business that directly led to more $$$ in the bank, so here are a few things I changed up this year that have allowed me to double my recurring revenue in just a few months!

3 Things I Did to Grow My Business This Year

1) I started to focus on one thing

This one is really two different things (not to be confusing or anything)…

First of all, I started theming my weeks to focus on one aspect of my business at a time. Instead of working on #AllTheThings (content creation, editing, marketing, admin, accounting, planning etc.) every single week, I broke my months down so that I essentially focus on 1-2 things for an entire week. For example, the first week in the month is typically content creation week so I shoot / edit / upload all of the images for the Styled Stock Society and my clients in that week. Then I have a week where I focus on marketing and sales funnels – so this is when I will write and schedule emails, blog posts, social media content, etc. A third week each month is what I call my “flex” week where I work on business planning, website updates, and generally take time to do things like go to the dentist or schedule coffee dates with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Last but not least, I have a “free” week where I’m essentially giving myself permission to be free to do whatever I want (usually not related to my business). In the past couple of months I’ve been using this week to travel with Mochi (we went to Puerto Rico then Aruba) and it will be nice to have this time “blocked off” for relaxing and enjoying the holidays over the next couple months.

If you had told me a year ago (when I was constantly burnt out / exhausted) that I would be working less and making more money this year – I would have said sign me up for that ASAP!

The second part of this focus on one thing bit is that I’ve actually only focused on selling one thing – my Styled Stock Society membership. Whereas last year I was consulting, creating online courses, working with clients, running a stock subscription, creating affiliate income opportunities, and playing social media director for my Instagram-famous dog…  this year I’ve seriously streamlined my income streams and put the majority of my effort on just one thing: the Styled Stock Society. I’ve always been of the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” mindset (and in reality I still have multiple income streams), but when I started focusing on marketing just ONE thing, my membership grew by over 100% in just a couple of months!

Quick tip: If you’re thinking about streamlining your business, I highly recommend focusing on one BIG thing at a time. Even if you have multiple products / services, you can pick one each quarter to focus on and you will probably see better results than if you are trying to market and sell everything at the same time!

If you had told me a year ago (when I was constantly burnt out / exhausted) that I would be working less and making more money this year – I would have said sign me up for that ASAP!Click To Tweet

2) I added a tripwire

I literally had “add a tripwire to my main sales funnel” on my to-do list for over 6 months before I finally used Bluchic’s Landing Page Templates* to set one up.

Here’s the thing. I consistently have people signing up to download my free stock photos who are then added to an automated email sequence introducing them to the Styled Stock Society membership.

I wanted to add in a step – to offer the people who downloaded my free stock photos a limited-time offer to download a discounted bundle of stock photos in order to monetize my existing traffic as well as well give potential members an affordable “sample” of my images.. plus people who buy from you are more likely to buy from you again!

Bluchic’s Landing Page Templates made it so simple to set up my tripwire in less than an hour (you can read more about my experience here) and since setting up my tripwire, I’ve been able to convert more of my website visitors into paying customers! Whereas before, people were only downloading my free photos, I now have an average of 5 sales of my $13 tripwire every day – which adds almost $2,000/month to my revenue all on autopilot!

Quick tip: If you’re not ready or interested in investing in landing page software like LeadPages / Clickfunnels / etc. I definitely recommend Bluchic’s landing page templates for anyone using WordPress!

3) I created an evergreen email sequence

Aside from focusing on marketing / selling one thing and adding a tripwire into my sales funnel, the other thing that has made a significant difference in growing my business this year is creating an evergreen email sequence. I used to just have an automated mini series of 3 emails that went out to new subscribers to introduce them to the Styled Stock Society. I was also sending one-off emails to my list with tips for using stock photos or when I added new collections / ran special promotions, but I realized that a lot of my newer subscribers were missing out on older emails that might have tipped them in the direction of becoming a SSS member.

So instead of only sending regular weekly / bi-weekly emails to my list, I started adding relevant emails to my automated email sequence to create a more intentional evergreen sales funnel. Sometimes people need 5 or 7 or 11 touch points before they know/ like / trust me enough to buy from me, so automating those touch points has not only made my sales process easier but has also led to more consistent membership signups!

Quick tip: If you’re looking to up-level your email marketing game, ConvertKit* makes it really simple to set up automated email sequences. Head over to this post to learn more about ConvertKit automation rules that have saved me a ton of time! 

What have you changed up in your business to grow this year?

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