Exits and Evolutions: Navigating Change in Your Service Business

Exits and Evolutions: Navigating Change in Your Service Business

Over the past 15 months, I’ve seen many changes, from new technology to economic ups and downs. A service business owner needs to know when to stick with something or switch gears. 

In this episode, I’m sharing how to recognize when to adapt, whether keeping up with trends, using new tech, or meeting customers’ changing needs. And when maybe the smarter choice is to stick with what you’re doing.

As a business owner, change is constant. Something is always changing, from new clients to new services to new pricing. Sometimes, those changes are significant; sometimes, they’re so tiny that no one but us notices.

Over the last 15 months, throughout 2023 and into 2024, I’ve noticed many significant changes in the online business world. We’ve seen the mainstreaming of AI, an unstable economy, and what I believe is the start of the online business “bubble” bursting.

It’s to be expected that many online businesses are changing right now. Still, I’m fascinated by how these evolutions and exits are chalked up to “strategic choices” with no real acknowledgment of bigger forces at play. Sometimes, the business model isn’t working, and sales are drying up, forcing people to evolve. Or, in other cases, people have hustled so hard they’ve burned out and can’t maintain the same pace.

I’m calling it out for what it is. Exits and evolutions are natural and normal, but they’re not always for the reasons we think they are.

In recent months I’ve thought so much about all the trends and tactics I’ve watched come and go and how so many people get sucked into chasing shiny objects as they believe that’s what they’re “supposed” to do.

I’ve realized that what I’ve done here at BS-Free Business has remained the same since 2016. I chalk that up to my focus on keeping things simple and sustainable. I’ve chosen not to chase trends.

Believe me, so many of these trends and tactics are VERY tempting, but I don’t need them. They don’t work for me or matter to the type of business owners I work with. In many ways, they’re out of alignment.

I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn but to provide an alternate perspective on what we see in online business, which seems to be a relentless cycle of reinvention. You don’t have to constantly do something new, especially if what you’re doing is already working.

My Exits and Evolutions: Knowing When It’s the Right Choice

The key is to monitor your business’s progress and know when you need to evolve or exit. But do not just do it because you’re bored or experiencing shiny object syndrome. (Get a hobby already, find something to do, and stop tinkering with your business!)

Sometimes, it’s an exit where you need to let something go or an evolution where you build on what you’re already doing. It could be a new market or service or letting something go.

Since I started my business in 2005, I’ve had some major exits and evolutions. I went from being a freelancer to building an agency, and along the way, I’ve had some distinct chapters doing different types of work, various industries, and more.

In 2015, I exited a successful partnership with events and membership in the crafting industry. In 2018, my partner in the agency decided to move on.

Today, I don’t regret any of my choices, but I didn’t go into them lightly. I often thought about it for weeks (or even months) before I took action. Some were tough choices, especially when I knew I was walking away from money, long-term relationships, and people I genuinely loved working with.

If you’re considering your potential exit or evolution, you may wonder how to make hard choices and avoid a pattern of reactive or reckless decisions that don’t serve you.

Our need to change can be driven by so many different factors, including:

Market Trends: How is your industry evolving? What’s new and what’s next? To stay relevant, you need to be aware of what may be changing with your clients or in the market in general.

Tech Advances: Technology constantly brings us new tools, impacting us and our clients. AI is an excellent example of how we need to keep pace with the latest tech and how it may affect our work.

Changing Customer Expectations: We may not want to change, but we must focus on our customers’ expectations and be ready to roll with them. Using the AI example above, it’s not something to ignore; proactively address it with clients so they know how you’re using AI. Another element is how customers react to shifting sales and marketing tactics.

Personal Needs: We all have different seasons of life, and what you need from your business will change over time. You may need fewer clients, different types of projects, or an entirely new schedule.

Economic Conditions: As business owners, we can’t escape the economy, so we need to move with whatever is happening on a broader macroeconomic scale.
That’s just a few reasons for exits and evolutions; yours may differ. No matter what they are, tackling them head-on will always serve you better.

There are so many ways you can adapt, and that’s precisely what we will be exploring in this series on exits and evolutions. (Plus, we’ll also consider when it’s just better to stick with it!)

I have lined up a series of interviews with some of my fave services business owners on how they’ve been navigating (big and small) exits and evolutions in their business.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Jules Taggart from Wayward Kind shares how she went from owning an agency to shutting it down and becoming a solo consultant.

Andrea Jones from Online Drea takes us behind-the-scenes of how her agency is evolving and how social media is changing.

Zoe Linda discusses how she blends products and services in her business and constantly evolves her offerings to meet market needs.

That’s right, I have three interviews coming up. You’ve heard all about my exits and evolutions, it’s time to hear from other service business owners about what they’re experiencing right now in the market, how they’re navigating change and more.

Links for this episode:

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