Pivot… It seems to be the latest buzzword. That one word pouring out of peoples’ mouths as a solution to the recent crisis circumstances that we, as business owners, are all now facing.
But what does it mean to pivot in business?
In definition terms, a pivot usually occurs when a business makes a fundamental change after determining (usually through market research) that their product isn’t meeting the needs of their intended market.
The keywords here are ‘fundamental change’, ‘after determining’ & ‘isn’t meeting’. If you find, ideally after market research, that your offer is no longer meeting the needs of your target audience, then, yes, ‘pivoting’ maybe required.
However, in my opinion, it is not necessarily a solution to pivot your business just because the market has got a bit ‘sticky’, just because something out of your control has changed the parameters of how your business works or because someone else is telling you you should.
But sadly, that is what I am seeing at the moment. The word, actually the instruction, that we, as business owners, are being given from many various channels is to pivot our business due to the crisis economic landscape that appears to lie before us.
Many businesses just don’t need to take such drastic action!
Look at all those fitness businesses that have managed to take their classes online via tools such as Zoom, all those who couldn’t take payment online before that now can, the morphosis of taxi ranks who now are a vital delivery service to many.
This is not pivoting. This is adapting to a new way of working. This is accepting something out of our control and making our business work around it. This is being agile, rising to the need of diversification and having the determination to keep our businesses running the best way we can until we figure out what the ‘new normal’ is.
So please, please, please, do not take the word of those who are trying to sell you courses on how to ‘pivot’ your business or those who say that you won’t survive unless you ‘pivot’.
Take the time you might (probably!) find yourself with in this seemingly ‘fallow’ period and instead…
- assess where your business is now – has your strategy been working this far? How has your marketing activity performed? What’s worked best? What’s not worked at all? Are/were you truly reaching your target audience?
- compare your plans for the future versus the new economic circumstances – could you still achieve what you set out to? If not, where’s the gap? How can you meet the gap? What tools/resources would you need?
- explore new opportunities, whilst ensuring they align with your business values, capabilities and established customer base/target audience. What could these opportunities bring to your business in terms of your goals?
- create pathways for the future. You may need a few scenarios ready for when things change again, or some continuity planning further down the line, given none of us know what the future holds right now. Don’t be afraid to have options. Just be clear what each of these options offers your business and how they align with what you are looking to achieve.
- prioritise. Prioritise your options and your actions in terms of which will give you the most alignment and the better results. Not necessarily the quick fix, but the ones that will create stability & robustness.
- plan. If nothing else, use your time to plan. Plan all of these actions noted above. Plan for the best-case scenario & plan for the worst-case scenario. With a plan, you can move forward, sideways, whichever way but at least you are still moving. Without a plan, chaos ensues only bringing with it anxiety, worry, stress and often business paralysis.
So when I ask ‘to pivot or not to pivot’, I’m not saying it’s not for you, I am just saying listen to your business, you know it better than anyone else.
Don’t be swayed by those offering a quick fix solution (if you’ve been in business you’ll know there rarely is one!), or asking you to pay to learn various ways to pivot your business. In fact, if anyone tells you right now is the time you must pivot, please just walk away!
Instead, spend some time on your business
Nurture it, help it grow, discover ways to adapt to our changing circumstances and explore new opportunities. And if it’s right for you and your business, absolutely pivot. But until you truly know that’s the drastic action you need to take, I ask you not to pivot. Avoid a panic a gut reaction, go with process, thought and pragmatism.
Current times are tough enough. Trying to force your business to pivot into something it isn’t or you don’t want it to be because of a simple buzzword will not bring success. Find your own pathway through this, with the help & support of other business owners, by putting in place a route of agility and transformation to grow and face our new future when it appears.