Sometimes it’s the little shifts in mindset that lead to our biggest successes. That’s exactly what happened for Andrea Wolkofsky and why I’m so excited to share her story!
We met back in 2017 when I was heading up a Marketing team for an Energy company. I needed a mid-size agency to support our creative and campaign needs. She was VP of Sales at a boutique firm in NJ (and damn good at her job, if I do say so). I signed up right away and we became fast friends, often connecting outside of work. Eventually, Andrea had the desire to go out on her own. She conquered her fears and is now living her dream as co-Founder of her own agency, shyft Digital.
Andrea is happily married with two children in High School. She’s no stranger to balancing work and life, which is why I’m thrilled to bring her story of confidence and determination to you in this month’s interview blog.
It is the most empowering feeling to be able to control your own destiny.
Q: What inspired you to start shyft Digital?
A: It didn’t happen overnight; it was a completely organic process. I’m a trained sales person and I’ve always sold someone else’s services, so I didn’t initially see what I could sell if I went out on my own. There was this inability in my head to fully think through the option of going out on my own. It was literally a block in my brain. However, my experience of collaborating with marketers of mid to large size businesses had provided me insight into what I saw as a gap in marketing: strategic work to fill the gaps in execution to ensure successful outcomes. I had been working so hard for so many years for other people and finally decided that it was time to make a go of it on my own.
Q: I can relate to working hard for others, often with little recognition. How did you know it was time to go out on your own?
A: Life was good working for someone else – until it wasn’t. I would come home from the office and feel really frustrated. I didn’t feel my vision for where we needed to be, or the speed in which changes were happening, were aligning with my expectations. It was time! On top of that, my husband prodding me for years to take my experience and work ethic and put it to use for my own business finally convinced me. In reality, I think I just had to have it make sense to me in my mind and when it did, I knew it was time to make the leap.
Q: What have you learned about yourself in the process of starting your own business?
A: I always knew that I had a very strong work ethic, but going out on my own validated that my experience is valuable and (I think) people enjoy working with me. I learned that I am always learning – that never stops, especially when you are in the position of making the decisions! I’m also learning that I enjoy being challenged – when things are too easy, or business is slow, it doesn’t sit right with me. I need to be busy, active and always have multiple plates spinning at one time to feel whole.
Q: Yes, I felt that restlessness when things got easy as well. What advice do you have for women that want to start their own business, but haven’t followed through yet?
A: DO IT! I hesitated for many years, thinking “I can’t”; “It’s not the right time”; “I don’t know how.” I would say if you have the support of your spouse and your family behind you, you can do anything! It is the most empowering feeling to be able to control your own destiny.
One of the things that became a pivot point for me happened at a conference. A business connection from another company asked me a question, “Are you happy?” I responded honestly and said, “No.” It was the first time I had stopped to consider my feelings and said how I felt out loud. Sometimes you just need someone to ask you the question. Previously, I was so wrapped up in what I was doing working for someone else, but that pause allowed me to start exploring what my own business could be.
Q: It’s funny you say that because I had a similar question be my pivot point as well. How has starting your own business changed how you parent?
A: I don’t think it has changed my parenting style much. My kids are a bit older (teens), so they get it. They understand the sacrifices we made as a family in order to start the business and I think they look up to me and are proud that their mom is an entrepreneur. They’re taking business classes in school, so they learn about exactly what I’m doing. I’m proud that I can be a role model for them. For my son, but especially for my daughter.
Q: Did your mom work when you were growing up? Did you consider her a role model?
A: My dad owned a drug store, so we all worked for him. My mom started working when I was around 6 or 7 years old. You could say I always had that role model myself, although we never discussed it in that sense. I knew she worked and that was normal to me.
Q: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
A: My dad always said, “If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything at all.” That advice got me to make the decision to go out on my own when I felt it was right. If I had doubts or concerns and wasn’t sure, it was good to just ‘stop and think.’ I have the tendency to be an impulsive person, so I reflected on his advice to be sure I didn’t jump in head first without planning and thinking it through completely.
Once I started the business, someone said to me, “It’s great that you know what you want the business to be and what you want to ‘do’ for clients, but your clients are going to drive the direction of the business. You’ll end up doing what they want, if it’s in your wheelhouse and you can make money doing it!” That is so true and it has gotten our business to go in a few different avenues, which is great for diversification.
One other one is, “always take the meeting.” This has proven to be true time and time again in terms of networking; business opportunities; referral relationships. You never know where it’s going to lead, so always take the meeting.
Q: Those are great tips. I have to ask, is there anything you don’t like doing as a business owner?
A: Oh sure, we each have strengths and weaknesses, which is why having a business partner has been great. We have a 50/50 split and we tend to lean toward specific competencies. My business partner is excellent at handling the majority of the finances, as well as managing the technology and operations side of the business, while I’m better at being the face of the company – new business development, networking, customer service and account and project management and growth. We really balance each other out and each have our own lanes. It’s a lot like being in a relationship. We rely on each other, and trust each other, to each do what we do best.
Q: Many women find it hard to find “me” time and prioritize yourself. How do you make sure you’re getting time for yourself and how do you spend “me” time when you get it?
A: I walk every morning for ~3 miles – it’s my time to get fresh air; get moving; clear my head; start my day. The rest of the day is focused on work; the kids; the family; dinners; cleaning; etc. I cherish that hour in the morning before the crazy starts.
Q: What do you love most about having your own business?
A: Freedom! Flexibility! Empowerment! Choices!
Q: I can’t disagree with that. Andrea, this has been a lot of fun. I’ll give you the last word. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
A: There are so many businesses that are started by solo/entrepreneurs. I am in awe and humbled by the knowledge and experience that is out there. Women have a special place in the business world and there are so many of us that have gone out on our own to start our own business. Helping each other and being supportive in any way we can is the best thing we can do for each other. I look forward to 2021 to keep learning; challenging myself; growing my business; expanding my network of people that I can connect with to either work with or refer business to them. I’m excited and very hopeful for the year ahead.
If you’re thinking about starting a business and having trouble overcoming your fears, a Life Coach might be what you need to get you over the hump. Learn more about how I help clients like you, EDIT™ Your Life and achieve your goals. As always, thanks for reading and have an amazing day.