Perhaps the only thing harder than starting your business in the first place is undertaking a business pivot — especially during an economic downturn. Pivoting means that you’re walking away from everything about your business that you know to be true, and moving towards a new model that carries an inherent risk of failure. However, many business owners and leaders are choosing to pivot now to keep their business doors open as the demands of their core customer base change dramatically. To mitigate that risk of failure, your plan to pivot needs to be strategic and guided with some outside help.
In a sense, a pivot is similar to starting a new venture; however, the stakes are much higher now that your business is up and running so don’t make a single move without goals in place. Create benchmarks that help track your progress and indicate where you’re succeeding. You and your employees are all under an immense amount of stress right now, and a solid, documented plan will give everyone a big-picture progress report in real-time.
Before making any decisions about the future of your business, put fear aside. When business owners and leaders make decisions based on emotions instead of data, they’re unable to stay objective. This is a time to be humble instead of being embarrassed that you’re not seeing the success you had hoped for. Remember that you’re taking on this immense change because what your business is doing or offering isn’t working well or meeting customers’ needs. Use that data and your newfound humility to fuel strategic planning.
Start the planning process by peeling away the layers of your business’s services or products and focus on the customers. Find ways to get their feedback and start conversations about what they’re now looking for from you, and compare that with what your business does best. By re-establishing the customer relationship and showing that you’re listening to your target demographic, you create loyalty that will carry you through crises. One caveat: keep this communication authentic and sincere because now more than ever customers will see through overly dramatic messaging.
Take this invaluable customer data back to your team. Your employees, stakeholders, and partners are just as worried about what the future holds as you are, and it’s important to keep everyone informed and reassured in consistent and clear ways. Decide together what areas need to pivot; you may find that it’s not necessary or possible to transform your entire organization. Simple reallocation of resources or repositioning of key staff may be all it takes to move your business to a different path.
Here is where you should draw on the strengths and current capabilities of your team and ask for their feedback as well. Roles and relationships change in a pivot (for better or worse), and everyone must be on board and open to collaboration. Consider how you, as a leader, will change the way you motivate everyone to move forward in the face of fear and plan to provide training for those team members whose responsibilities may change during and after a pivot. If you haven’t made company culture a priority before now, it’s time to do so.
The truth of the matter is that every business should be prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past year it’s that nothing is certain, and the world around us can change in the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t feel it’s necessary for a pivot right now, you should still have a contingency plan in place. Being proactive and thinking ahead means your organization won’t have to scramble if the time comes, losing valuable time and perhaps even your competitive edge among industry peers.
Strategic pivot planning should be an ongoing process, and calling in a third party to help can offer a huge return on investment. Our team will work closely with yours to develop goals and discuss what steps are next if you’re ready to pivot. We’ll do the heavy lifting and leave you to work on the high-value work that will carry your business through crises of any magnitude. Once we’ve established a blueprint for change, we’ll be by your side throughout the transformation to support and optimize your next moves.
We have years of experience working with owners and leaders just like you and have been a part of our fair share of pivots. Get in touch today, before you make any more decisions about the future of your business, and learn how coaching and mentorship could be the key to your ongoing success.