The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How to plan and pivot out of a crappy job
  • How a brand evolves and “grows up” over the life a business
  • Why entrepreneurship allows the flexibility to adjust your business when you face a negative or positive situation out of nowhere

My guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast this week is Michelle Ward, founder and career coach of When I Grow Up, a firm dedicated to helping creative women get out of their “soul-sucking jobs and discover—and launch!—their authentic, fulfilling businesses.” After 20 years of preparing for and pursuing her dream of being an actress, she suddenly realized it was no longer the life she wanted to lead and decided to get a “real job.” We talk about her own transition to discover her own dream career, how the When I Grow Up brand has evolved and how her business became her relief and release after being diagnosed with cancer.

Plan and pivot out of a soul-sucking job

The devil you know is oftentimes better than the devil you don’t.

– Michelle Ward

Michelle started to get beaten down by the business of show business, and decided that even though she had spent her life up to that point preparing for a career as an actress, it was no longer what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” But, she ultimately didn’t know WHAT she wanted to be and she didn’t want to settle for anything less than something she was passionate about. After a lot of soul searching and help from a career change class, she realized being an entrepreneur really fit everything she wanted for herself.

She became the coach that she couldn’t find. But, as Michelle shares in our interview, it took several years of planning and working a “grown-up” job as an executive assistant so she could pay her bills and get her training before she pivoted to a full-time career coach.

Evolution of the When I Grow Up brand

Overwhelmingly, my people told me that they were attracted to me and stayed around because they clicked with the name.

– Michelle Ward

Since Michelle’s name is so common, it never crossed her mind to use her name as her business name. After some deliberation, she settled on the name When I Grow Up because every time she would share it with others, they would laugh and “get it.”

There have been three different logo/brand shifts as the brand has grown up over the years. Michelle has worked with the same designer since the beginning of her business and during our conversation she shares how the look and feel of her brand has shifted. She’s really happy with where the brand is right now and Michelle believes that the caliber of the clients she attracts is a really big nod to the business name, brand, how she shows up online and how authentic she is.

Each year, Michelle creates an infographic to illustrate her business by the numbers that offers a fascinating look into her revenue streams and business expenses.

Adjust your business when necessary

Whether it’s something negative or positive out of nowhere the same rules can apply.

– Michelle Ward

Everybody responds differently to the trials and tribulations of life when being an entrepreneur, but the promise of entrepreneurship is that you have the ability to adjust your business in a way that works for your life circumstances. Michelle shares how she weathered the storms in her business including two different bouts with “boob cancer” in 2011 and 2015. At the forefront of her approach was honesty and transparency with her clients. Michelle explains how she adjusted her business during her surgery and treatment based on what she still wanted to do that made her feel good, what she thought she could manage and how she could alter the expectations to show up at a certain time and avoid feeling guilty if she wasn’t up to it.

I invite you to tune in to listen to the entire podcast where you will hear all the nitty-gritty details from this long-time entrepreneur and learn about a great opportunity to join Michelle at the Pivot Assembly, a virtual event with amazing career change experts, including yours truly, to learn about how to pivot out of your crappy job into a more traditional job or entrepreneurial work.

Each week you can learn from the experiences of successful entrepreneurs to build your own business. Subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes to get the nitty-gritty details about how these professionals built brands and teams and are living out their dreams as an entrepreneur.

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