My business was starting to suck, and I couldn’t put my finger on why.
It had been 9 years since I moved to LA after leaving a career in entertainment marketing in NYC, and started my personal styling business The Life Styled with zero professional experience of any kind in fashion. It was right in the middle of the market crash, so the odds were against me, but I was so in love with doing work that I was passionate about that I didn’t really care.
I immediately started saying yes. Yes to styling magazine spreads for pennies or for free, yes to TV wardrobe styling gigs, yes to clients who were the wrong fit, yes to heavily discounting my services for sale sites, yes to starting a blog. I continued on this path of yes until last year when I finally had the realization… my business kinda sucks, and it’s time for a change.
1. You’re not inspired or fulfilled by your business.
I didn’t even realize it was happening until I had become completely uninspired. I had gotten used to the status quo of spreading myself between 3 sub-businesses (blog, TV styling, personal styling) and I wasn’t 100% committed to any of them. While I worked on one, the others just sat and collected dust, which meant that a feeling of failure was ever present and none of them fulfilled me, or my clients. Meanwhile I watched my peers skyrocket to success, and wondered every single day why I wasn’t having the same experience. I always knew I needed to pick one area of my business and go deep down that path, but that clarity wasn’t arriving on its own. If you’re feeling bogged down rather than fired up, it might be time for a major reboot.
2. Your ideal client isn’t clearly defined.
When you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. It’s so easy to think you need to keep the door wide open to anyone who might want to give you money for your product or services, but in trying to appeal to the masses, you sacrifice what makes you special and able to truly be of service to clients/customers who are the right match for you. My mantra was to never say no to money, and that led me to a lot of clients or projects I wish I could take back. If I had spent that time working towards finding the right clients, it could have saved me a lot of energy and headache in the long run.
3. Your product/services haven’t grown or evolved with the times.
It’s crazy how fast time moves in the world of business, and before you know it, your offerings are out of date. As market trends evolve, so do the lives of our clients. I suddenly realized that my styling services weren’t actually the ideal format. I would spend hours in someone’s closet, going through every last piece of clothing they owned. At hour 4, they’d say “and these are my t-shirts for sleeping…” and I thought, not only is this exhausting, but this isn’t helpful for them! I’ve also done things like putting tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothes on my credit card so they could try it all on in one afternoon while I sat there in their room, breathing down their necks. There are a lot of reasons why that doesn’t work for either party, and a big part of why I wasn’t enjoying my work. We need to know how to learn from our experience and constantly take a look through the microscope, asking ourselves the tough questions, and being ready to change what doesn’t work.
4. You’re investing too much money into areas that aren’t giving you a return on your investment.
We all have those things we just like to spend money on when it comes to our business, and the ironic thing is that for me, it’s rebrands. I love the design aspect of things, and the excitement of redoing my website and business cards. Over the years, I’ve actually had five different versions of my website and spent thousands of dollars and a year on each one. While design is an important part of my business, all this time and money I spent on rebranding could have been spent on coaching, support staff, and ads so more people could actually see the brand in the first place.
5. Your friends and family are your main brainstorming partners.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like supportive friends, your mom, and your loving partner to build you up in your business ventures, but leaning on them exclusively for bouncing ideas, brainstorming, and dealing with challenges can be detrimental to a successful business. Even the most savvy of loved ones are prone to being biased, jaded, and protective of your feelings. After the millionth time talking my mom or my husband’s ear off, I was desperate for a fresh take.
1. Hire a business coach.
It felt like a fancy decision at the time, but now I see how necessary this step was if I was going to turn things around. I hired fellow HEYMAMA Heidi Stevens and from day one, she helped me get laser focused on what I wanted out of my career and completely revamp my services to better serve my ideal client. Most of all, she brought a fresh eye to my business and showed me how to get out of my own way.
2. Define, then reach out to your ideal clients.
Ask yourself who you actually love to work with, and who can best benefit from your services or product. Get specific. Once I was able to do this with my coach’s help, I was well equipped to form my business around serving them. One of the most challenging but most helpful steps you can take is actually reaching out to five of your ideal clients and interviewing them about their needs. You can then have their voices in your head as you speak directly to them in your marketing.
3. Modernize your offerings.
If you’re rebranding, that means you’ve already been in this line of work for a little while. What are your favorite parts, and your not-so-favorite parts of working with clients? What do your clients actually love and what do they not really respond to? What are the key challenges they face that you can solve for them?
4. Pick key areas to invest and take smarter shortcuts.
After years of repeatedly investing money and time into graphic designers and developers, refocusing my monthly priorities into new areas was a key part of my rebrand. Every business is different, but for me, my money goes into strong photography (thanks to Ashley Burns, who I have been shooting content with regularly for two years), childcare, and coaching. Now, graphic design and web development could be replaced by sneaky but strong shortcuts. My current website is actually a template from GoLive and I built the whole site myself with zero design or coding experience. I also switched my site from WordPress to Squarespace so I can be empowered to make changes in minutes rather than needing to hire a designer and developer. Game changer!
Most of all, listen to your gut. If you’re feeling like it’s time for a reboot, chances are you’re exactly right. Ever since I let go of the extra crap that I was holding on to, not only did I fall back in love with my business, I have had some of the highest earning months in the history of my business this past year. The most comforting part is that you absolutely can take matters into your own hands, and you don’t have to wait for thousands of extra dollars to fall into your lap. Shift your focus and your money, and you’ll start to see results. Whether your goals are monetary or you just need a fresh start and new inspiration, all it takes is deciding you’re ready, and never looking back!