We thought it might be over by the summer, or September, or definitely by the end of the year and then everything could just go back to the way it was. We just needed to hang on in there until then. But the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus doesn’t seem to have improved and many of the changes we’ve had to make might be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable. This impacts the way we all do business and means it might be time to pivot.
What is pivoting?
Pivoting your business is changing the direction that it was heading in.
A pivot is a strategy, not a tactic. So we’re not talking PR stunts or new product launches but a deliberate altering of your course of action in response to internal or external factors.
Pivoting might happen when:
- There is a global pandemic(!)
- Trends change
- Your target market disappears
- There are technological advancements
- There is economic decline or growth
- Your business growth is flattening or declining
- Your business is falling behind the times
- Competition is very heavy in your area
- You see an opportunity or gap in the market
- You lose resource or gain access to better resource
Does your business need to pivot?
If changes in the business world have detrimentally affected your business then it might be wise to assess your options for a pivot. Or perhaps you’ve spotted an opportunity amongst the vast amount of change occurring. It’s not about capitalising on other people’s misfortune but working out how people’s behaviours and what they need have changed and how you might be able to service that.
Look for a cross-over with other industries. Hotels have become accommodation providers, taxis have become delivery services.
The smaller the business, the easier a pivot is likely to be as smaller businesses can be more agile. Being willing and able to pivot is a good way to future proof your business. Make sure your business is flexible and also scalable.
10 business trends and consumer behaviour changes that we’re seeing from the pandemic
- Working from home
- Online shopping
- Exercise at home and outdoors
- Cycling and walking
- Online networking
- Virtual events
- Health and hygiene focus
- Food delivery and takeaway
- Outdoor and socially distanced entertainment options
Businesses who have pivoted recently
Moving from doing business physically to online
Businesses like This Is Creative Enterprise, Write & Shine and For The Love of Books have moved their in-person workshops to be completely online. Conferences and events have gone digital. Many shops have moved to e-commerce stores.
“At This Is Creative Enterprise (TICE) pre-pandemic, we were predominantly about physically taking young students into workplaces, meeting employers and developing new skills in the creative, design and digital sectors. Currently, these in-person experiences have had to pause, and although we fully intend to continue them when able, for now, we have shifted all our focus onto digital opportunities, live project briefs and insight from the creative industry. We have still managed to maintain the core elements of what TICE is about but on another level. Yes, it’s been incredibly hard, mainly due to the fast pace in which we’ve had to change but it has also showcased the opportunities and the blended experiences we can give young people who wish to continue to engage in creative industry insight. “
Jenny Barrett, This Is Creative Enterprise
A service-based business to a product-based business (or vice versa)
Thoughtfully Marketing pivoted from offering consultancy and copywriting to online marketing courses for small businesses and freelancers.
Changing your target market
Cambridge Fruit Co. went from servicing their local corporate market to delivering boxes to homes and taking orders from around the world from people who wanted to make sure friends and family were fed and to donate boxes to NHS workers, charities and vulnerable people.
“I genuinely thought I’d lose my business. I was crying in the night. My back up plan was primary schools but when they said they were going to shut primary schools, I thought this is it, I thought I was going to lose my business. Now, that buzz and energy from helping as many people as I can. It’s taken my life in a whole new direction. I really enjoy delivering to hospitals, I’m so grateful.”
Neil Bharadwa, owner of the Cambridge Fruit Company
A complete product pivot
Pivot to help other people pivot
Instagram Manager, Amy Normanton set up a membership for women in business wanting to get online and start their own businesses in lockdown.
“When lockdown hit, all my social media management clients were small businesses like gyms and beauticians so they had no reason to keep marketing going when the world had slowed down. So I completely lost all my clients and business that I had spent the last year building. That’s when I realised that many people on furlough or laid off were turning their hobby into a hustle and would need online support but not have the funds. I started a membership programme for as little as £25 a month where I host other female entrepreneurs in the group to teach them how to grow their business, finances, online presence, confidence and more.
I then saw a need for my 1-2-1 support in starting a business. So I became a business mentor and haven’t looked back. It was on my goal board to start a membership in 2021 and be a business mentor in 2022 but the universe had other plans.”