Evolve or Die: Why it is OK (and Necessary) to Change Your Path - Mallory Whitfield

Evolve or Die: Why it is OK (and Necessary) to Change Your Path

I’m pleased to welcome a new guest contributor, Kathy Rasmussen! I met Kathy through a group of badass biz ladies called The Collective {of Us}. Kathy is a super smart implementation coach, event planner and speaker based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I know you’re going to love her!

Evolve or Die: Why it is OK (and Necessary) to Change Your Path

If millions of years of evolution has taught us anything, it’s that change is natural. And actually, it isn’t just natural, it is inevitable. Things change: people, circumstances, styles, trends, culture… The list goes on and on. One simple truth stands firm – evolve or die.

I frequently hear creative business owners confess they are unsure about what they are doing. They have lost their passion, are getting bored or it simply doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve definitely been there. When those feelings set in, it is nature’s way of telling you that evolution is coming.

Evolution can be a natural occurrence or a conscious decision. And in the best businesses, a combination of both, otherwise known as Guided Evolution.

Indie Biz Case Study: The Evolution of Bee Wise Goods

In 2008, Gabrielle Krake formed her company, Bee Wise Goods. “We make whimsical treasures for your life and home, including kid and baby items, limited runs of clothing, 10 types of bags, housewares, artwork, notecards and journals. It all started with a reusable grocery bag tutorial for my blog.”

Gabrielle was not new to the entrepreneurial game. She says,

“I have always been an entrepreneur, ALWAYS! As a small child I took my artwork to my mom and dad’s places of work and sold them to their coworkers (not because they were amazing or anything, but the people appreciated my verve, I guess). I had lemonade stands constantly, sold do-dads in front of our house, had yard sales etc. Then in my teens I had become a very proficient seamstress. I made most of my clothing and soon was doing it for friends or teaching them to sew. My mom had an outdoor outfitter company making custom clothing for dog mushers, and I soon found myself designing and making items for Iditarod mushers. My specialty was harnesses and dog booties for every condition of snow and ice. I made thousands upon thousands of them and had quite the living as a junior and senior in high school.”

Once settling down with her husband in Idaho, Gabrielle stumbled on a need which needed filling.

“I had just started blogging in 2007. No one was reading or at least commenting and I was treating it more as a personal journal than anything, but I wanted to start putting crafts on the blog rather than just rambling about my day. I was having a frank internal conversation with myself about what to make, but knowing that what I really needed to do was go to the grocery store.

“This set me off on my utter dislike for my reusable bags – a hodge podge of free type bags that I had collected to do my green part. I usually “forgot” them in the car. Inspiration struck. I ran downstairs, grabbed a paper bag and the next 5 hours was spent designing and making myself some really cute grocery bags. As I was leaving, one of my best friends stopped by, she saw the bags and screamed, “Where did you get those???”

“I informed her I made them. The next five hours, she was convincing me to sell them and go into business. Nine days later, our business was up and running, with orders from five boutiques (one in San Francisco), a website and all the other details. It was crazy!!!! Simply a miracle.”

BeeWiseGoods & Boise'sBakery in Boise Idaho

Since starting her online business, Gabrielle has added on a brick-and-mortar store, video tutorials, in-house training and she started a bakery. She says the evolution of her business was natural, “but as customers’ needs changed or the market shifted we had to be paying close enough attention to make conscious moves to stay in business.”

How To Use Guided Evolution In Your Creative Business

1. Assess
Do some real searching of your business’s soul. Where are you in your business? What is working? What is not?

Don’t rely on your analysis alone; an outside perspective is crucial for objectivity. Get some feedback through a customer survey, focus group or asking some trusted (and knowledgeable) friends or colleagues.

Gabrielle’s advice is to always look at the numbers. She says, “I watch our numbers very closely. This enables me to keep a realistic “pulse” on all aspects of our business. For instance, when doing craft shows stopped creating enough revenue to make attending them worth it, we stopped. Or when sales of a particular item lagged for more than 6 weeks, I stopped making it.”

2. Research
Next, do some searching outside your business. Research your market: What is your audience looking at? What do they love and what do they avoid?

Research your competition: What are they doing that’s working? Analyze and learn from their strategies.

3. Plan
After the assessing and research, your destination will be much more clear. With your destination in mind, make a plan of how to get there. For my own projects and when I’m working with clients, I use a seven-step process to create a blueprint to keep me on course and on schedule.

Keep your plan loose. Though planning is an important tool to launch your projects, over-planning is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it a form of procrastination, it sets your expectations too high — nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Keep your plan agile and flexible. It will evolve with you throughout the process.

4. Take the Next Step
Now is the moment of truth. It is time to take the plunge. I could rattle off a thousand cliches, but it simply boils down to: just start. To do this, ask yourself one question, “What is the next step?” Then take it. And, once you are done, ask the same question again.

What is your next step?

Reach out on Facebook or Twitter and let me know about your own evolution.

Thanks to Kathy for sharing her tips, and thanks to Gabrielle for sharing her business evolution story. Check out Kathy’s blog for more actionable tips and sage advice. 

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#BadassCreatives, the podcast!

Do you believe that art, creativity, innovation, and kindness can change the world? If you answered “Heck yeah!” then this is the podcast for you. Badass Creatives is hosted by Mallory Whitfield and features marketing and business advice for creatives, as well as interviews with a diverse range of handmade artists, performers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

Kathy Rasmussen

Kathy Rasmussen is an implementation coach, event planner and speaker based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She specializes in empowering creatives and visionaries to launch their big ideas, moving them off the vision board and into reality. Kathy is passionate about digging deep and getting to the underlying causes of hesitation and frustration which can lead to inaction. Through coaching, blogging and speaking, she motivates and inspires her clients to stop making excuses and keep moving forward. Follow her at @KathyRasy (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & Periscope)