If you’re an existing business owner and find yourself at a crossroads, you have two options: you can either throw in the towel or you can pivot your business. You’ll need to get creative, strategic, and come to terms with your original plans never coming to fruition. But if you’re open to it, you may still have a chance.
By pivoting your business, you are fundamentally changing the course of your business because your product or service does not meet the needs of the market. The decision to pivot should not be made hastily or lightly, especially for startups. Every business is different, and new businesses may not see a positive ROI for about 2-3 years. It’s crucial that you give your business the time and attention it requires, exhaust all resources, then, if it’s your only option, pivot your business. You want to avoid changing direction too soon because there may be a way to resolve your issues that is less costly and time-consuming.
Pivoting has been a strategic move long before COVID-19, but there’s no arguing that the global pandemic directly affected the way we do business, forcing many businesses to pivot at a much higher rate. The dust hasn’t quite settled yet and we’re still learning new ways the market has been affected and how to optimize business operations, however; pandemic or not, here are some tried and true ways to effectively pivot your business:
Communicate with Your Team
Now is not the time to keep things under wraps. If your team does not understand your mission, it won’t be accomplished. Be very clear with them about exactly what is happening and why. This lesson was emphasized during Social Media Week’s 2020 virtual conference, #SMWONE. Bryan Wiener, CEO of Profitero, encouraged those business owners who are facing the inevitable, to communicate early and often. The transition will be easier and more cohesive if everyone is on the same page. Your team will also continue to have confidence in you if you are honest with them.
Check Out the Competition
What are you direct competitors doing now and what are your direct competitors doing in the space you’re transitioning to? Do you have enough of a competitive edge to compete with larger businesses? Unless your product or service is completely innovated, you’ll face some sort of competition and if that was the key problem before deciding to pivot, it may not go away, just change faces. Do your homework on these businesses and figure out a way to set yourself apart.
Focus on a Feature
Pinpoint the feature of your product or service that sets you apart and has been proven to meet the needs of the market. Exploit that. If you overwhelm consumers by introducing a ton of new features at once, your product will come across as confusing, misleading, or even unnecessary.
Don’t Leave Your Current Customers Behind
If you have a loyal customer base, no matter how small, you’ll want to keep them up to date about your plans. If you will no longer be offering the product or service they pay for, they deserve an explanation and time estimate of when they’ll need to research an alternative. You could take it one step further and provide them with referrals to other businesses, as long as they will not be your direct competitor. End on a good note and you’ll keep your credibility and their trust. They may just transition with you.
Ask for Feedback
How can you be helpful to your target audience and what do they need? By asking these questions to your customers, it should give you a good idea of what direction to go in. They’ll appreciate being listened to and eager to see what you’ve come up with. You also have the golden answer straight from the horse’s mouth.
You now know all too well that even the most thorough business plan can be too one-dimensional. You’ll want to play out different scenarios and make sure everyone is on board and trained with the changes. By mapping out different strategies, you are demonstrating to your team that you have thought the pivot through and opening the door for more potential problems and solutions to work through. This will better prepare you for future roadblocks.
Final Thoughts on Ways to Pivot Your Business
With the above tips in mind, you should also pay attention to team morale. Your attitude towards the pivot will be closely monitored and influence your team. If you don’t believe in the business, no one else will. Keep your team engaged and in the loop. Demonstrate to them that this is a positive learning experience – because it is.