Q&A with Domonique Townsend, Founder & Chief of Business Performance Improvement at We Optimize Work
What happens when you do all of your business in person and then a global pandemic hits? If you are like Domonique Townsend, you pivot, of course — quickly and strategically. Domonique is CEO of We Optimize Work, which provides services in leadership development and business performance and improvement. She’s adapted her business for the virtual world, even launching a new business line called Work Life Success to solve for gaps in engagement and productivity, particularly for working moms.
In June 2020, Domonique competed in the finals of the WBENCPitch Pivot tournament. This blog is part of a series highlighting the women entrepreneurs who pivoted their businesses and stepped outside of the box to create or offer products, services, and solutions that fill supply chain gaps during the COVID-19 pandemic. WBENC is proud to tell the stories of these incredible women business owners and showcase their resilience and innovation.
Read our Q&A with Domonique, what she learned throughout her business pivot, and some great advice for fellow women entrepreneurs.
How was your business impacted by COVID-19?
Pre-COVID, my business was conducted 100% in-person. Planned revenue in my pipeline for 12 weeks was cancelled within the first two weeks of March. This led me to re-evaluate how I served clientele by switching my teaching and consulting approach to better adapt to a virtual environment while still being effective.
How did you pivot your business to survive and thrive through this crisis?
My pivot initially involved better understanding the needs of corporations and small business owners, particularly women owned businesses. I offered complimentary strategic planning review services and complimentary training sessions for corporations to support their leaders and working parents. I wanted to be clear on the problem I sought to create a solution for while pivoting. Serving in this capacity helped me tremendously. The majority of the people I worked with were experiencing gaps in engagement and productivity while working from home. It inspired my pivot. I created a new line of business, Work Life Success and was able to design an approach that solves this gap.
What have you learned about yourself and your leadership style throughout this process?
I realized that I have only scratched the surface in what I can do for other businesses, particularly for working moms who are executives or business owners. With the current state of the world, my being flexible helped me to lead with intention and transparency. And today I am still growing beautifully in how I lead We Optimize Work.
What’s next for your business?
Speaking on my recently launched platform, Work Life Success. My next steps involve connecting with corporations who would like to be a pilot sponsor of the platform. This will look like crowdfunding but with a specific focus with corporations and mid-size organizations. I believe this platform will be a gamechanger. To have an early vested interest directly from my target market will support back end development needs while supporting the bottom line in productivity and well-being of working moms for companies is what I consider a win-win.
What piece of advice would you give to other women business owners or aspiring business owners on how to best navigate a crisis?
I have recently “spring cleaned” my business to meet my current bandwidth. Especially since the kids have been home around the clock since March!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with trying to determine your next steps, first give yourself grace. We are navigating during a crisis. This means making decisions that best fit what works for you at your current capabilities. It is likely that the decisions will not reflect was used to work for you in the past.
I recommend the following steps to help limit overwhelm and provide clarity as you navigate.
- Evaluate the services/products that make up the majority of your revenue or has the highest engagement from clients/customers.
- Determine the top 1-3 services/products that you are going to actively put most of your focus in relating to marketing, customer prospecting, content, etc. (Note: I am still open to provide other services, but it is only by request)
- Identify if there is a process that you can make repeatable in how you meet your customer’s needs. If you are service based, are there templates you can create (proposals, agreements, checklists) that can help you reduce the time you spend on back end needs. If you are a product based business, identify opportunities to streamline how you produce your products, communicate new ship out dates for your customers so they know if they order on particular dates they have awareness of your new lead time. This will help you to batch a block of time to create, make or produce the product in one setting for multiple orders instead of choosing separate times.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped during this crisis?
The quick ability to learn of resources that can support my sustainability due to revenue impact. Also the ability to help serve other WBEs with their strategic planning pivot needs. The community aspect of the WBE network is unmatched.