Professional Pivots: Real-Life Positives & Pitfalls

Professional Pivots: Real-Life Positives & Pitfalls

Advice from “the experts” on anything is always helpful, but the real learning is done hands-on in the trenches.

Bumble Bizz, The Society of Women Entrepreneurs, and Stout Magazine recently teamed up to bring together a panel of experienced entrepreneurs. These pivot pros broke down the good, the bad and the ugly for an eager audience at the Austin Capital Factory on June 23rd. We’ve captured the positives, the pitfalls and, as always, the Stout takeaways on pivots to use right now.

Bumble Bizz Presents Pivot To Pitch with Stout Magazine & The Society of WE

Five entrepreneurs, one stage and a whole lot of no B.S., straight from the source actionable #Stout advice for any one starting our or over.

Taking the leap to something new – or even just shifting your business model – can be daunting. Where do you start? Should you even start? Is it worth the effort?

Let these insights from veteran pivot-makers Maruxa Murphy, Founder and CEO of Perky Perky; Sara Barney, Owner + Principal Designer for BANDD Design; Sara Christensen, CEO of Kickass Masterminds; and Dana Rygwelski, Director of Communications, Mass Challenge Texas – all expertly drawn out by Ellen Smoak, Founder and CEO of The Society of Women Entrepreneurs – help you decide.

Pivot Positives

Making a pivot can allow you to live your values professionally as well as personally, something that was very important to Murphy when she founded her coffee company, Perky Perky. The ability to do what you love, and love what you do, can make work feel less like, well, work – and more like fulfilling a mission. It’s a positive energy boost that sticks with you even through the tough moments.

If you are currently working for someone else, making a pivot to being your own boss means that the success you achieve is truly yours. As Barney noted, nothing is more motivational – or rewarding when it happens – than knowing the bottom line is up to you.

The minute you take sole charge of the direction you are moving in, you have crossed into badass territory. Christensen, of the very aptly named Kickass Masterminds, is the living embodiment of this principle. Tap into those gunslinger feelings, because with bulletproof confidence, anything is possible.

Capturing takeaways on pivots and more from the panel at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas

Pivot Pitfalls

It’s only human to worry about failure, and being judged or laughed at. Such fears can definitely hamper or hold back a pivot. The fix? Christensen says it’s this – that no one else actually gives a sh*t about what you are doing. Embrace the freedom to try things that comes with the realization that others are not really focused on you. And if you do crash and burn? Christensen says that in her experience, “people usually show up to console you after a fail, not laugh”.

Many who make the pivot to entrepreneurship find themselves feeling like they are on a hamster wheel, unable to get off. The fix? Rygwelski acknowledges that self-care is vital. For her, that means a set routine every day, allowing her to schedule things that refuel her. Christensen also points out that “balance” is an elusive thing – it’s more like a pendulum that shifts back and forth between life and business. Her suggestion is to re-frame the issue in terms of “priorities, not balance”.

There often comes a critical moment after a pivot: do I stay in this new direction, or pivot again? Subsequent pivots are often driven by panic that things are not going well enough, fast enough – and can dilute your original vision. The fix? Christensen points out that if you pivot too often or too much, you’re never going to get good at what you set out to accomplish. Focus on your “sport”, and be very selective in your pivots.

“I wish I would have known that no one gives as much of a shit about what I have going on as I thought that they did.”
– Sara Christensen, Kickass Masterminds

Stout Magazine Senior Content Writer & Editor Andrea Frost breaks down the Stout Guide to Writing a Perfect Pitch with the audience

Ready For Your Pivot?

If you’ve decided that making a pivot is the right move for you, then read on for our top takeaways from our panelists and moderator. And whether you’re ready to charge ahead, or still on the fence about making a change, don’t miss the Stout Magazine Video Bonus, featuring Murphy, Barney, Christensen and Rygwelski sharing their best three pieces of advice for those pondering a pivot. It’s the next best thing to having a time machine to go back and attend their panel!

Make Your Pitch Perfect

Following the panel event, Stout offered participants a hands-on workshop on perfecting a pitch. Try it yourself – download the Stout 5-step action plan for honing an elevator pitch here and work through the guide to make your next venture pitch perfect.

STOUT’S Top Takeaways From Pivot Pros

▸ From Dana Rygwelski: Just sack up and do it.
Create a plan, set your goals, and check along the way to make sure your actions and results are in alignment with those goals.

▸ From Sara Christensen: Give yourself permission to f*ck up.
Learning comes from the messiness – you must be willing to be the dumbest person at something today, and then work on getting a little smarter each day.

▸ From Sara Barney: Outsourcing is awesome.
Figure out what you aren’t good at or don’t like to do, and hire help in those areas. Whether it’s business tasks like spreadsheets or life logistics such as housekeeping, what takes you 3 hours because you struggle might take someone else 30 minutes – and that is valuable time that you could be putting to better use.

▸ From Maruxa Murphy: Put vacation time on your calendar.
Don’t let FOMO interfere with self care. Opportunities will show up if they are right – you won’t miss them by taking a timeout. And by resting and recharging, you’ll be better able to respond to the great opportunities that come your way.

▸ From Ellen Smoak: Get super-clear on what your values are.
You can use this clarity as a litmus test for the “how and who” of spending your time. Does this thing or person meet your core values? If not, can they? And if the answer is no, then why spend more time pursuing that avenue?

“Pivot to Pitch” Panelists Share Their Personal Pivotal Moments

Maruxa Murphy CEO at Perky Perky

Maruxa Murphy CEO at Perky Perky

Maruxa Murphy, Founder and CEO of Perky Perky

Pivot(s): director of cultural affairs to virtual event management to coffee community maven
That defining moment: Recognizing and embracing the core value of freedom working for yourself

“Stop “shoulding” all over yourself- create your business the way it feels right to YOU – not how everyone tells you your should.”

Sara Malek Barney, Owner + Principal Designer

Sara Malek Barney, Owner + Principal Designer BANDD DESIGN

Sara Malek Barney, Owner + Principal Designer BANDD Design

Pivot(s): talent agent to marketing exec to interior designer
That defining moment: Ready to stop making money for someone else, and take that entrepreneurial risk.

“You’ll be shocked at how much can happen for you if you try just a little—because there are a lot of people who don’t try at all.”

Sara Christensen, Founder and President of Kickass Masterminds

Sara Christensen, Founder and President of Kickass Masterminds

Sara Christensen, CEO of Kickass Masterminds

Pivot(s): marketing and business development to serial entrepreneur
That defining moment: Receiving an email from her then-employer while on vacation that “the company ran out of money and nobody is getting paid”.

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing hard enough- you’re not challenging yourself and you’re not going to get the learning you need to succeed.”

Dana M. Rygwelski, Founding Director & Director of Communications + Ecosystem , Texas at MassChallenge

Dana M. Rygwelski, Founding Director & Director of Communications + Ecosystem , Texas at MassChallenge

Dana Rygwelski, Director of Communications, Mass Challenge Texas

Pivot(s): startup supporter to marketing consultant to combining both those paths
That defining moment: Desire to become the strongest woman in the world (literally, she is only one of 5 women worldwide to squat over 700 lbs.)

“You have to really ask yourself “Who do I want to be?” Because everything you do needs to be in alignment with that – with whatever you’re trying to achieve right now.”

For even more perspectives on pivots, check out the latest posts from Stout. And don’t miss our coverage on the #Stout professionals driving Bumble’s efforts to help women date/meet/network better, all in one female-friendly place. They’ve brought out their Stout – now it’s your time.

Event photos by Keelyn Costello.