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How to Start a Business (And When to Pivot)


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This week’s guest on Motivational Mondays, Amy Balliett, is the CEO of the design agency Killer Visual Strategies. They have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and the United Nations, to visually tell stories that get people to take notice and, more importantly, to take action. 

Listen to this week’s episode or continue reading to learn Amy’s advice on how to start a business and knowing when to pivot.

Building a Successful Business

Amy’s agency has been featured on Inc. 5000 four years in a row, which is a list of the fastest growing private companies in America. This is a powerful testament to the Killer Visual Strategies brand.

However, that doesn’t mean they were successful right from the start. During the episode, Amy shares that at the beginning, they weren’t even close to a success.

In fact, when they started, Killer Visual Strategies wasn’t a design agency at all. Instead, they owned and managed a number of different affiliate marketing websites. At that time, they created infographics for the SEO value of driving traffic and inbound links to those sites.

Then, they saw another opportunity to create another website as an infographic directory.

Knowing When to Pivot

During this episode, Amy said, “Most of the time, your original business model won’t be your end business model." You have to shift with the demand. Part of being a successful leader is knowing when your current path isn't the best option. 

For instance, once their infographic directory site was operating for some time, people started asking Amy and her team to create infographics for them. When they realized the market opportunity, they pivoted to become a design agency. 

Around this time, they realized design is much more than pretty pictures. It is a deep understanding of human psychology and how to use visuals to connect with people on an instinctual level.

If you’ve already started a business, it’s important to recognize a new opportunity and pivot. In this episode, Amy also shares plenty of advice on how to start your own business. 

How (And When) to Start Your Own Business 

Amy says that if you want to create a successful company, you should be prepared to work 80 hours a week and be able to pick yourself up as fast as possible after getting knocked down. Starting a business is never easy, especially with all of the additional health and economic challenges we’re currently facing.

There are some benefits to starting a business during an economic downturn, such as now, because there are more people looking for work. This is a great opportunity to secure talented people while building your business and allows you to compete on price.

The other key piece of advice that Amy shares is that you should have a healthy savings account before you start your own business. In fact, she saved for a year before starting Killer Visual Strategies and saved enough to live on breadcrumbs for two years. If she hadn’t had those savings, Amy says she would’ve given up after two or three months because of the financial stress. That safety net allows you to take the necessary time to become successful.

Amy doesn’t stop there. In fact, in the bonus episode, she shares even more great advice on how to start a business without savings, when to start hiring, and how to build your company to survive without you. 

NSLS members, listen to the bonus episode in the Members Area to hear more of Amy’s advice.



Read Amy’s new book: Killer Visual Strategies

Check out Amy’s LinkedIn Learning course: Data Visualization

Connect with Amy on Twitter

Motivational Mondays is now available on all podcast platforms! Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, or wherever you listen to podcasts to receive instant notifications when new episodes are released!

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