Switching to Freelance: Lisa Taylor Powers’ Leap From the Boardroom to the Home Office
May 21, 2019
Lisa Taylor Powers worked in corporate America before switching to freelance. She was employed in the global marketing department while diligently building her own digital marketing agency. In 2014, The Hive Marketing was born. Based in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, The Hive Marketing’s mission is to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
“It’s a world I’m really inspired by,” says Powers, who launched her business full-throttle after landing a handful of her own clients and developing her company’s brand while still traditionally employed. “It’s really fun to help fellow entrepreneurs build their own hives.”
I spoke to Powers to find out what she learned in the corporate world, how she used what she learned to build her own company and how she was able to incorporate her personal values into her business to live a more balanced life.
Taking the global marketing approach
While working in the corporate world, Powers was part of a global marketing team that developed the company’s U.S. strategy. After the initial strategy was fleshed out, each country team took the master plan and put their own country-specific filter on it.
“We had to make sure it was brand positive and authentic to that region,” explains Powers. “You had to communicate with international counterparts, and think through all the minute pieces,” she says. “Plus, it forced to you to be on your toes.”
That big-picture approach combined with nuts-and-bolts implementation helped Powers devise successful digital marketing campaigns for her own clients, who exist in both the non-profit and corporate realms. In many ways, Powers’ previous experience of marketing to different countries has empowered her to successfully market her services to different brands. Now, she can leverage the lessons she learned in the corporate world to create brand-aligned content for clients in a myriad of industries.
As an indy, Powers works with a team of staffers and freelance creatives—which includes SEO specialists, e-commerce experts, web developers, videographers, graphic designers, social media strategists and content writers. She aims to create detailed, day-to-day plans with a long-term, big-picture strategy in mind. That means she’s constantly pivoting and drumming up new possibilities for her clients.
Adapting old processes
Being part of a global digital marketing team helped Powers understand the importance of a built-in structure and process.
“When you work in a large corporation, there are hundreds of processes, which felt overwhelming at times,” she explains. “However, having some processes in place can be really beneficial. If one works, you can use it again and again—and it can be one less thing to think about.”
Besides adhering to processes that save time and cut down on excess work, Powers got into the habit of “calendaring” every meeting, phone call and deadline during her corporate days. When she formed her own agency and began juggling multiple clients, noting all the important dates and appointments in a calendar became mission-critical to staying on top of things.
Collaborating with the team
Whether it’s creating an email campaign or a video series to share on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, Powers currently helps her clients build recognition for unknown brands and businesses. And while working in the corporate world, she learned that the process of creation can’t be maintained in a silo.
At her former day job, collaboration was an inherent part of the organization’s culture. When she left to form her own business, she knew she wanted to create a space to share ideas with her team and clients.
“Having that time with other people to brainstorm and collaborate has been so critical,” says Powers, “and it’s helped me see things I don’t see on my own. Plus, it’s so much fun to share and create ideas with my collaborators.”
Whenever Powers runs into an issue, she brings it to her trusted professional cohorts so they can come up with out-of-the-box approaches and solutions.
Feeling Like Your Work Is Valued
One of the reasons why Powers decided to strike out on her own was to have the opportunity to live up to her full capabilities and be valued for her contributions.
“In a corporate environment I didn’t feel valued in the same way,” she explains. “And I was excited to create a place for myself. By completely making all of it up, I was able to build a company on my needs, and find clients who valued me and what I can offer.”
While she’s worked with companies of varying sizes, budgets and industries, their common denominator has always been the value they place on the relationship with their marketing team.
“My clients are dedicated to their business,” says Powers. “They want something long-term and they really value a strategic approach. They’re innovative, and are doing interesting things in their business and in the industry. [They] want to grow and get their name out there, and value strategy and service.”
Now, Powers works with clients who value the work her agency does—and she’s able to seek out professional partnerships with groups that share her personal values. The Hive Marketing is a benefit corporation that gives back to the community with pro bono hours to deserving corporations. In particular, Powers and her company work with organizations focused in health, the environment and the well-being of children.
“I’m always willing to hear out an organization that could use the help,” she says.
Being in Control of the Work You Do
One of the major reasons why Powers left her traditional 9-to-5 job to start her own business was her frustration with the many layers of approval and the stifling number of people involved at each level of a corporation.
Even when she worked for smaller startups, she struggled to gain enough control over her position and work. “I just do better when I can chart the course myself,” she explains. “I had been given the freedom in some job roles, but it wasn’t enough for me. I always felt limited.”
Powers has been aiming to scale up her marketing agency. In fact, the Hive Marketing has seen tremendous growth in the past year: It rocketed to 37 percent growth in 2017, and Powers expects it to grow at least another 40 percent in 2018.
Living a balanced life
In addition to having the choice to work with clients who share the same values, Powers loves the balanced life her business offers.
“Living a balanced life has always been important to me, and creating my business has offered that,” she says. “I have autonomy and flexibility, and I can work anywhere in the world.”
The ability to work remotely in different locales helped Powers expand her business from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. After moving to Los Angeles a year ago, she’s been able to grow her client base in both places, traveling to land new clients and work with them face-to-face as needed.
Not only does Powers plan to grow her business in size and profits, but she also plans to get The Hive Marketing B-Corp certified this year. And through a tight-knit mastermind group and monthly wine mixer for freelancers, she’s hard at work growing her own personal and professional hive. For those who are keen on switching to freelance, Powers suggests connecting with those who see the value you can bring to the table.
“When I first started out, I took on clients [who] were my friends who were willing to work with me as a business owner,” she says. “I did a lot of cool things—and also worked for free. And those people recognized my talent, and saw that I had a lot of insight and potential.”
Another pro tip? Just get started. “There’s no reason why you can’t start tomorrow,” she says. “Put up a website, or something tangible that shows you really want to do it. You’ll soon attract all the things that show your business is viable.” Don’t be afraid to take the leap: Sometimes it’s all you need to break ground on a fulfilling and successful career.
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