Business Monday: When you know it’s time to pivot, Go! – Mary T. O’Sullivan

by Mary T. O’Sullivan, contributing writer on business leadership

“A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision.” – Eric Reis

COVID-19 set the world as we knew it back years, even though many routines seem somewhat back to normal. There was so much disruption during that time that a lot of us can’t seem to get our feet back on the gas pedal. So, rather than live the definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – people decided to make big changes, already reflected in day-to-day encounters. Remote and hybrid work, diminished number of in-person public events, rising mental health concerns, and conversion to endless Zoom meetings are but a few of the profound changes to impact our lives and businesses post pandemic.

With all these considerations in mind, I decided that it was time for me to pivot.  For 10 years, I’ve worked as an independent executive coach, in business for myself. The arrival of the pandemic changed all that. With fewer clients willing to meet in my office, I realized after two years that a perfectly good office, fully equipped, was just not needed any more. In a matter of weeks, I physically emptied the workspace that had been fully furnished and carefully decorated and it became just another empty space in an old, converted mill.

I began to examine other expenses of running a business – did I still need MailChimp, Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Coaches Console, Canva, business liability insurance, LinkedIn Premium, Adobe Acrobat, and so many other costly business applications? I decided the answer was a resounding “No”.  Things had changed, and I had to change along with the new realities. I made the decision to cut other expenses as well, like $695 per year for an American Express Platinum Business Card, status symbol for sure, but not when you are paying the rent with credit cards.

Besides closing my office and dramatically cutting expenses, I reasoned that I didn’t necessarily want to give up my career, but I was just tired of spending so much money and time running a business as a professional coach and HR consultant. So, I started to look for online platforms that required hiring professional coaches with my level of qualification, where I could still work from home, without need of a fancy, professional office, and lots of expensive software support. With no expectations, I applied and was hired by an online coaching company, and at the same time, by happenstance, (and clever networking) became an adjunct professor at Bryant University. I’m still doing the things I love, but after making a pivot out of desire and necessity, enjoying them far more.

Pivoting takes a combination of self-reflection and desperation. I had to ask myself the same questions I ask my clients: What do you really want to do? Where do you want to be in the next six months, one year, three years, five years? I knew I didn’t want to keep working so hard in order to keep up with expenses, and I wanted more time off, time to myself, and time to take vacations and pursue hobbies. I couldn’t do those things and keep working and spending as I was. A change had to be made.

It’s interesting that others I’ve spoken to recently actually took demotions at their jobs in large companies just to have more time for themselves, and less stress. It appears that one post-pandemic benefit is our newfound appreciation of time. Because if not now, when? And, if not you, then who?

“Maintaining a growth mindset is critical to navigating a pivot successfully”. Jenny Blake


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Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, Society of Human Resource Management, “Senior Certified Professional. Graduate Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas.

Member, Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society.

Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University.

Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM.

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