by Lauren Roberts
7 ways to pivot your business
How I’m working through a pivot, losing Instagram followers, but feeling more fulfilled
Ok so the word ‘Pivot’ is a bit over-used at the moment, but bear with me for a few minutes
as I hope what I’m about to share will be of some use if you’re currently going through the
‘What the hell am I supposed to be doing’ phase right now…
Pre-lockdown I ran a co-working club for parent freelancers and solo business owners called
Free Range Work Co. It ran 3 times a week in a pop-up format at different venues in South
West London. Sessions were always 3 hours long and from 9:30-12:30. I also ran an optional
creche facility on site as many of the people coming were also parents with pre-school
babies & toddlers. Being freelance or just starting out with a business idea, they often
hadn’t signed up for nursery spots. Without a guaranteed income, it doesn’t make sense to
commit to hundreds of pounds of childcare per month. As you may know, the UK childcare
system is really not set up to support freelance workers with variable hours.
I also started it because it fulfilled my own need as a freelance mum missing adult
connection and finding it hard to find a nursery for my now 2-year old son Leo that could
offer the flexibility I needed. I really missed the social buzz of being in an office, yet also
relished the freedom I had around choosing my own working hours, and also where I
worked- I loved visiting different cafes around the local area, logging onto WiFi and
sampling different coffee and cakes whilst I worked!
I was struggling
However, whilst it may have looked like I was winning- I had this freelance business-owner
thing nailed, behind the scenes I was struggling with the sheer amount of work that running
essentially three separate businesses: the creche, the co-working, plus my freelance
marketing consultancy work entailed. I would often stay up till gone midnight working-
whether it was catching up on overdue freelance work projects or working on marketing the
co-working club. I felt like I wasn’t doing a great job on any one thing. I also felt like I wasn’t
present enough for my 2-year son with everything I had going on. Ironic really when a big
part of why I started it was so I could spend more time with him.
I felt trapped as I needed the freelance work to pay bills, and I needed the co-working club
to have some form of social life rather than just work + chores + sleep! Meeting up with the
co-working group on Monday mornings was my favourite time- coffee and a chat as well as
a bit of productivity- driven to complete tasks by the end of the session and the
accountability working alongside others really gave me a boost. I was always buzzing by the
end of the session. I loved it when people coming would say things like ‘I’ve got my Sunday
evening with my husband back because of this’ – that was essentially why I did it.
It was a constant cycle I’d go through during the week when I’d think ‘this really is too much
work, I can’t keep it up’ to the making it to Monday sessions when I’d think ‘I have to keep
doing this because I love it and others need it too.’
Whilst I charged people to come along on a drop-in basis or monthly membership, the
income basically covered overhead costs, so it wasn’t really covering the time I was
spending working on it.
This was the situation I was in when we entered lockdown on 23 rd March. So now, just
over 2 months later, what actions can recommend for going through a pivot?
Think about how you were spending your time pre-covid and whether you’d choose
to go back to that- be honest. I realised that I was undervaluing my time- whilst I
was aware of it, I was telling myself that every new business doesn’t make money to
start with. But with hindsight, I feel like it was a combination of stubbornness- ‘I’ve
started down this path so I have to keep going…’ plus pride – I didn’t want to look
like a failure. Plus the fact the business model just wasn’t set up to really make
money. It was set up as a social enterprise, and I was now trying to reverse-engineer
it to justify the time I was spending on it.
Think about what you most enjoy. I realised I really enjoy working 1:1 with
people and getting to know them at a deeper level and support them with creating
their freelance set up or new small business idea.
If you need to, do some training. I’ve signed up and invested £ for training to
become an ICF accredited Holistic Coach- this is a big investment in myself! It’s twice
a week for 3 hours live virtually. Time when I can talk to the other coaches-in-
training online under the guidance of our amazing instructor. This time is so valuable
to me right now.
Try things out in the area you’re interested in. I’ve run a positive thinking group
challenge for 14 days- I strongly believe that we can chose to be positive in any
situation and I hope I can help in a small way with these positive tasks. I’ve also been
running free online workshops to try out the format around helping small business
owners get over marketing overwhelm and teach them what to focus on that would
drive most results. I’ve got really good feedback and am planning to run some paid
ones using the feedback and what I most enjoyed.
Appreciate how much you’ve adapted and worked through a really hard situation.
I can actually get *some* work done with my 2-year-old son at home- we have
become much more routine-based than ever before to make that work! It’s certainly
not ideal and not a full working day, but certainly better than the first few weeks of
lockdown (my son won’t be able to go back to nursery until August due to the fact he
was just starting there when lockdown hit!)
Be open and try new things out virtually! Whilst I miss seeing people in real life, I
would choose to carry on doing more things online post lockdown- for example I
attended an online Supper Club where a chef walked us through how to cook and
serve a dish. I’d never have got around to going in person to something like that! It is
also a great way to ‘meet’ people and bounce around ideas. Trying to get some
life/work mix going on.
Imagine you have to present your business/ idea to a board of directors- how can
you justify the time spent on it? What is the return? When we are allowed, I would
still look to run co-working sessions again, but I will have to re-think how I set it up-
possibly looking to crowdfunding or a local government grant to make it possible to
run, and find a childcare agency to partner with for the creche (if you know of one or
are one, please get in touch!) This is the only way I can see it working for me not to
end up in a state of burn-out again, and for it to be financially viable.
Whilst pivoting, I’ve been losing Instagram followers but I’m OK with it!
Since I realised all of the above, I have naturally shifted what I’m sharing on Instagram to
talk about my journey as a coach-in-training, and sharing tools and techniques I’ve found
I also took a 4 week total break from Instagram as well- we were all ill and it just became a
bit too much for me constantly seeing others highlights and everyone sharing about moving
their business online, and adverts telling me my business was going to fail if I didn’t work on
it right now.
Whenever you change your direction, you can normally expect to lose followers. People
who were following me because my focus was on co-working with childcare before might
now think it’s not relevant for them. I’ve gone down from about 10.5k to 10k in about 7
weeks- not huge, but noticeable. This is also normal if you suddenly stop posting less than
you were before. I also had only just changed my handle from @mummingclub to
@freerangeworkco in late January as I rebranded the co-working club, so with all this
change, it’s natural to have a bit of a pause in growth or even loss of growth as I’ve
But… I’m feeling happy about it, as I’d much rather have fewer followers, but people who
actually care about what I’m sharing. I’m sharing more from the heart than ever before, so
whilst it can sometimes feel like a kick in the teeth when you see people unfollowing, I’m
seeing it as part of a longer journey. Sometimes we have to take 3 steps backwards in order
to then go 5 steps forwards.
I hope sharing this with you possibly helps in some way if you’re going through something
similar with your business or social media. If you are, please feel free to get in touch via
Instagram @freerangeworkco or I also offer free ‘Virtual Cuppas’ – a chance for adult
conversation amid the chaos. You can ask me anything around marketing or starting a