When I first got into the online business space, I was completely unaware of the online business space.

I was a freelance science writer/editor, and, thanks to my STEM Master’s degree and halfway decent portfolio, I picked up a couple of big clients from job boards without ever diving into Facebook groups or blogs or anything many of us now consider necessary if not essential content and marketing tools.

But, a little over a year into that business, I realized that I had effectively created another job for myself, and I was burning out again.

During that time, I discovered podcasts, which became my inlet to the online business world as I know it today. I found it fascinating, and I wanted to know more. So I started my own podcast, The Off-Road Millennial, where I interviewed people who were doing unconventional work.

My guests ranged from storm chasers to transgender soldiers-turned-activists to musicians and, yes, plenty of coaches.

It was awesome.

But I hadn’t monetized the podcast, because I didn’t know how. Sure, I had read about how to monetize podcasts and had some back-end coaching/consulting offerings of my own, but no one was really biting and I still had to rely on writing/editing and a part-time tutoring job to contribute to the household.

So I started diving into other people’s success formulas, and The Off-Road Millennial slowly disappeared until I officially shut it down in August 2015. I was making money then, as the Systems Scientist, and I was good at what I did.

But I didn’t get into business to teach people about systems strategy.

Sure, systems support creative businesses and will ultimately be necessary for any sustainable business, but I left academia and corporate America to become an advocate for unconventional work that only you can do.

I’d lost sight of my vision.

That’s the danger of diving into an echo chamber like we have in the online business world. I consumed all the information I could about creating a niche, identifying a market, and so on and so forth until not even some semblance of The Off-Road Millennial existed.

I had clients and revenue, but at what cost?

I’d created a watered down version of myself, my ideal business, and my message.

By going back to my personal brand and creating the sub-brand of The Creative CEO, I started to move in the right direction. But the first few months of The Creative CEO were still more “generic business coach” than “business strategist and advocate for off-road entrepreneurs.”

The shift happened when I revisited my own process and realized that:

  • Unconventional businesses require flexible frameworks to build upon
  • Conventional businesses require creativity to succeed
  • Most online businesses are going to exist in the messy grayness between traditional and creative business

So I started looking back at my 4 years in business to determine what I could do to shift my business ever so slightly (rather than massively as I have in the past) to be more aligned with my vision and life/work goals.

For this bridge-burner, that in and of itself was a huge success.

You don’t have to scrap your entire business each time you realize it’s no longer aligned with your vision. Pivots can be softer. You can off-road your business strategically.

Inside The Creative CEO Vault, I’ve hosted a free call about how you can balance traditional business tactics with nontraditional frameworks to create a successful business plan that’s unique to you. In it, I share the main thing that I had to change to make the shift without rebranding or feeling like I was starting from scratch (again).

Intrigued? Check it out in the Vault.


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