How to deal when you’re changing the direction of your business, but you’ve already committed
Now I’m all for letting stuff go and making space to move forward, but I also know that sometimes shit is just not that simple. For example, like when you’re running your own business and you decide its time for a change in direction.
For the first few years of my business I was working 1-1 as a Graphic Designer with clients. After about 2 and a half years I started to get the vibe that I wanted to move away from 1-1 work and start creating more of my own products, so this I had to confront this ‘letting go but staying committed’ situation quite a bit, especially in the last 6 months of taking on design clients.
It can be an incredibly difficult situation to deal with, and it really comes down to who is involved and what the general vibe of your projects are. Sometimes it’s mutual that things aren’t working out and it’s best to part ways sooner rather than later… And sometimes its not so easy to cut and run because you’ve committed and you have to see it through because its the right thing to do.
Here’s my 5 tips for handling biz situations where you want to move on, but you also kinda can’t ::
1 :: Have an open conversation with your clients or customers (or whoever is involved) about it.
Before you do this — take note of what the general vibe is. Do you think there’s a mutual feeling that a project could be better ending it now?
For example, in the last few months of me taking on Graphic Design clients, I had a two separate huge Branding + Website jobs that just weren't working out for a few different reasons.
At this time I was already thinking about moving away from client work, but the feeling for both of these projects was that they just weren’t moving forward in the way we (me and both of the clients) had expected. So I had very open convos with both clients about ending the project mid-way through, and they both agreed it was the right thing to do… Although it was kind of bittersweet, it ended up being the best thing for everyone involved because it was mutual.
So maybe it doesn’t have to be about you just ditching them… See what the overall vibe is and maybe you can find some mutual ground in there.
2 :: Be aware of where and when you talk about this change in direction.
I think its super important to have a level of respect and awareness for people who have invested in you, and are expecting something from you. Put simply :: Don’t say anything publicly about what you’re planning on changing in your business until you’ve talked to your current clients or customers about it.
The last thing you want is for someone to see a post on social or a line in a blog post about you making this huge change in your biz, without even talking to them about it.
3 :: Cut and run… If thats what your gut is telling you.
If there’s a way you can back out of a project you know deep in your gut that it’s not for you… By all means, do it. You might piss people off. You might loose a little respect… But sometimes it simply has to come down to your own fucking sanity. Ask yourself — Would you feel lighter if you quit this?
If the answer is yes — do it with respect. Be honest. Then go go go, get after the shit that really lights you up.
4 :: Stick it out… If thats what your gut is telling you.
I believe there are sometimes we just have to stick it out because it’s the right thing to do. Shit can’t always be rainbows and unicorns... Maybe its a huge project and you’re almost at the end. Maybe you really need the money. Maybe its for a friend. Maybe you would hugely fuck yourself over if you quit now… Whatever it is, I believe that your gut will tell you when its time to just stick it out.
Be sure to set very clear deadlines and expectations with whoever is involved, so you all know when you will be done and when you can move forward.
5 :: Remember that a big, scary, exciting change in direction rarely happens overnight.
It might happen over the course of a few months… Maybe even years. You’ll figure it out as you go, and there’s nothing stopping you from taking even the smallest steps right now.
Here’s some examples of mini steps you can start taking ::
// Take a weekend (or just a day) away to really dive deep and brainstorm what you want the future of your biz to look like
// Brainstorm 3 short-form emails or Instagram posts related to this new direction that you could write and post, to get a vibe on how people respond (and also how you feel writing about it)
// Add some new hashtags to your Instagram posts related to this new direction you’re considering (to attract new people)
// Clean out some of the old blog posts on your website that aren’t vibing with you anymore (you could either archive or re-edit them)
// Jam with some of your biz pals on what you’re feeling, and see what they think or what advice they might have
// Get in touch with any contractors you might be looking to hire in the next 6-12 months. Copywriter? Designer? Photographer? Write a list of your dream team, then hit them up to get a feel for their schedule and prices, so you know what the deal is when the time comes
So, did ya notice a theme anywhere here?
Trust. Yo. Gut.
At the end of the day you have to do what feels right to you, because your best work is only going to happen when you’re in that zone of genius, but it’s also about considering other people that could be affected. It can be a tricky line to ride sometimes, but I think the more you can tap into your own intuition or gut feeling, you’ll know what the right move is.