Pivot Profile: Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn is a blogger, speaker, author, and host of Smart Passive Income, one of the most listened-to business podcasts in the world. Before becoming an expert in online business, Pat was an architect.
Pat, what’s the story behind your career pivot into online business?
I began my architecture career as an entry-level drafter. I started at the lowest level and busted my butt to learn everything possible. Eventually, I became the youngest person in my firm’s history to be promoted to job captain, meaning I had clients of my own. This was at the age of 24 and 25, which was really cool.
Then it happened: June 17th, 2008. I remember that day so clearly; the smell in the office, the weather, everything. You don’t forget things like that. When you’re told that everything you’ve been working so hard for, this dream that you’ve had, is gone, it’s tough. I didn’t have a Plan B. I was devoting all my energy to architecture.
Getting laid off forced me to see other options. I discovered online business and internet marketing and connected with good people who were doing it in a way that resonated with me. They were doing it to provide value first. That became my mantra: to serve an audience first and get paid later. That’s how I teach business too.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Serve an audience first and get paid later. That’s how I teach business. @PatFlynn” quote=”Serve an audience first and get paid later. That’s how I teach business. @PatFlynn”]
Smart Passive Income was born because all this incredible stuff happened in my life and I wanted to share it with others. I didn’t even know the world of online business existed. I know that I now have this huge responsibility because a lot of people follow what I do. I can just at any moment say, “Go buy this product, it’s awesome!” and they will. That’s scary sometimes, but it also keeps me in check. I always have my audience’s best interest in mind first.
What mindset shift helped make your pivot successful?
That you don’t have to know everything to start. You just need to start, and can figure out the rest along the way. I’m still growing; I’m still learning how to be an entrepreneur eight years later. Failure points don’t mean it’s the end. You need the mindset of “Okay, that didn’t work. What can I do now?” instead of “Oh this didn’t work, I’m going to give up.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”You don’t have to know everything to start. You just need to start, and figure out the rest along the way. @PatFlynn” quote=”You don’t have to know everything to start. You just need to start, and figure out the rest along the way. @PatFlynn”]
What would you have missed out on had you never made this pivot?
I think about this all the time. I’m always thinking about just how grateful I am for a lot of things, not just big things, but small things. Looking back at my journey, there’re a few things that I can easily say I’m incredibly grateful for. I’ve grown a lot as a person in terms of confidence. I’ve become more confident in my own abilities, and that only came from doing. Getting forced out of architecture, connecting with the right people, and receiving a lot of encouragement from people slowly built confidence in me. It helped me reach many milestones along the way, both big and small.
Now, I’m able to take these skills I’ve learned along the way and turn them into something even bigger. I’m doing a lot of philanthropy now; something I’ve always wanted to do. A couple of years ago I did a birthday campaign to build schools in Ghana. I went to Ghana in 2015 to see the schools we built and met students and teachers. That was an incredibly life-changing moment for me.
Most importantly, I’m able to spend more time with my family. I work from my home office, and I’ve seen my kids through all of their “firsts” through every single day of their lives except when I’m on a trip. They are starting to absorb what it’s like to have this kind of control of how you want to live your life.
What advice do you have for someone considering making a career pivot?
The most important thing is whether or not the business you build actually fits into the life you want. I know a lot of successful entrepreneurs who are incredibly successful on paper. They make a ton of money and have a lot of customers, but then when I talk to them at conferences, we get into deep conversations and it’s clear they’re not happy. They’re not fulfilled. They feel like they’ve failed as a parent or a spouse because of the business that they’ve chosen, or how they’ve been running their business.
I created a life I want, and I have work that supports the kind of life that I want. That’s the cool thing about being an entrepreneur. You can shape it in any which way you want, and I’m just so thankful for that.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The most important thing is whether the business you build fits into the life you want. @PatFlynn” quote=”The most important thing is whether the business you build fits into the life you want. @PatFlynn”]
Introducing The Pivot Profiles, a ‘magazine’ featuring 18 real-life pivot success stories, just like Pat’s. It’s yours, absolutely free.
The singular goal of this magazine is to give you a wide array of people, personalities, and pivots for you to identify with. This is a powerhouse group. The folks inside hail from a variety of industries: huge corporations, small business, radio, military, ministry, government, academia; the list goes on. We even have a former park ranger!
Some of them launched into solopreneur ventures; others started companies. One left business to enter the ministry, while others left the ministry to go into business. It’s all here.