EP 170: 5 Trends Shaping Small Business In 2019: Prioritizing Sustainability With The When I Grow Up Coach Michelle Ward

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This January, I’m celebrating 10 years as a small business owner.

To say that a lot has changed since I started my very first website while breastfeeding my infant daughter is an extreme understatement.

It’s not just the marketing tactics we rely on or the social platforms we frequent that have changed, though. I think it comes right down to the kinds of questions we’re asking and the visions we’re pursuing.

Our businesses have matured—and we’re doing our best to keep up.

Since my job is to both interview small business owners here on the podcast and observe the comings & goings of hundreds of small business owners in my company’s small business network, I have a pretty great vantage point for seeing how the landscape is changing.

I see 5 key trends shaping small business in 2019.

Over the next 5 episodes, I’ll be sharing each one with the help of interviews we’ve done over the last 3 years.

The reason we can do that is because, well, these new trends are actually nothing new. They’ve been bubbling beneath the surface for years—as all good trends do. In 2019, I see them tipping, reaching the main stream, and affecting the way you look at how you do business.

So while these episodes are old, I encourage you to listen to them with new ears and a new perspective. Things have changed—but these interviews represent the future, not the past.

The first trend I see shaping 2019 is prioritizing sustainability for your small business.

Now, what I’m not talking about here is the 4-hour workweek or passive income.

In 2019, small business owners are going to make substantive changes to the way their businesses are run to create something that has staying power.

People will worry less about what’s working right now and start thinking more about what’s going to work over the next 10 years.

For some, that will mean building more robust teams. For others, it’ll mean prioritizing values for social justice and environmental sustainability and building them into their business models. For still others, it will mean taking a careful look at their offers and paring back to the core things they’ll be able to sell for the long-term.

When I consider this trend, I think about Michael Siriani, who did the work to make his business a certified B Corp, or Jennifer Armbrust, who is exploring feminist business models.

I also think about Susan Correa, whose line of environmentally-friendly children’s clothes is changing lives in India, or Michelle Fifis, who’s streamlined her business to make her business easier to run and more profitable.

There’s also Natalie Sisson who is rebuilding her brand to be more focused on her customers and less on her or Chris Mittelstaedt, who has pioneered feeding the hungry with the product his company can’t use.

Ultimately, the small business sustainability story I wanted to share with you is Michelle Ward’s.

Michelle has been building her business under the brand When I Grow Up Coach for over 10 years. While things have certainly evolved over time, much of how she runs her business and supports her brand has remained the same.

Michelle has approached her business with an eye for sustainability from day one—and it’s supported her through the ups and downs of breast cancer and adoption.

As you listen to Michelle’s interview—whether it’s your first time or whether you’re listening again—keep your ear out for all the ways that she has created systems with space to grow.

Michelle and I talk about the secret of her small business longevity. We chat about how she’s maintained the same brand name for almost 10 years, the storms she’s weathered—both personal and professional, and how she balances her strength of vision with her flexible attitude.

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