The coronavirus seemingly overnight changes our lives. Schools were closed, businesses were closed, and people stayed home for months in the spring.
Even now that many places have lifted coronavirus shutdown mandates, there are still serious limitations that are both imposed by local governments and that some people impose on themselves because of social distancing.
Many businesses have ended up closing their doors forever as a result of coronavirus and the associated shutdowns. Even industries that would usually not face downturns, such as professionals in the medical industries, are looking forward to what they can do to makeup for revenue losses since non-essential medical procedures were eliminated.
An example is dentists. The impact of coronavirus on dentists and also family practitioners has been immense.
The restaurant and hospitality industries have been hard-hit, as have many retailers.
The key for a lot of businesses who are working to stay afloat is to pivot. For example, dentists and doctors can pivot their business by focusing more on telemedicine.
In general, the following are some things to know about successfully pivoting your business.
What Does It Mean to Pivot?
When you’re an entrepreneur in any industry or with any kind of business, you’re likely pretty attached to your idea.
A pivot is often referred to as a change in your strategy but not a change in your vision. Essentially a pivot might include shifting how you do things but with the same overall goal or objective.
However, a pivot can also have different meanings to different people.
A pivot isn’t something that should be done hastily or without an eye toward strategy. It’s not about a spur of the moment or rash decision. A pivot instead is about considering your data and using it as a basis for decision-making, understanding what your current failings are, and forecasting to see where the market might be headed.
Internal and external factors could let you know it’s time for your business to pivot.
Internal factors that could lead to a pivot in your business model include high staff turnover rates or a lack of performance. External factors could include situations like what we’ve seen with the coronavirus, which has shifted customer needs and the market at the same time.
Building a Successful Pivot Strategy
What you do leading up to your actual pivot is incredibly important and lays the groundwork for success or failure.
As was touched on, it’s not something you do without having a full, comprehensive strategy in place.
When you’re pivoting, you also have to realize it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s something that’s going to need a proper period of transition.
Key things to integrate into a pivot strategy include:
- Communicate with transparency and frequency. Let everyone know, including your employees and your customers, the why’s behind your strategy. If your pivot is coronavirus-related you can use enhanced safety measures as part of your new marketing strategy. You want to frame yourself as a business that strives to give customers the safest possible experience.
- Think about how you’re going to pivot in a way that’s going to help meet the changing needs and demands of your customers.
- When you’re pivoting, it may require a website overhaul, so include this in your planning. You want your customers to know how your pivot is going to work for them. Always, things from the perspective of your customer. For example, what questions might they have?
- When you’re choosing goals, you want to ensure they’re in line with your larger vision.
- When you pivot, it doesn’t always have to mean a radical change. In fact, more often than not, a pivot doesn’t bring complete changes. You need to be able to identify what can be retained in your business and reused, even as you head in a different general direction in some ways.
- Your customers are going to give you a lot of the information you need to know if you even need to pivot, and then if so, they’re going to be able to help you understand how to pivot. Listen to them.
What Does a Successful Pivot Look Like?
When you’re going to pivot, you want to first and foremost be able to solve a major problem. Think about the problems that your customers face, and then build a pivot strategy around solving those.
It could be that by looking at a problem objectively, you’re actually able to use the processes you already have but apply them differently to solve said problem.
COVID-19 has brought about many business pivots, including among big names, and a lot of them look like they’re shaping up to be success stories, at least for the time being.
Spotify is an example. It would seem that Spotify would be a hit during a time when more people are spending time at home, and live music doesn’t show any signs of coming back soon.
However, Spotify primarily relied on advertising revenue and free users. Advertisers have cut their budgets since the start of the coronavirus.
Spotify decided to pivot to offering original content, in the form of podcasts. There were around 150,000 more podcasts uploaded in a single month, and now Spotify is signing exclusive deals with celebrities like Joe Rogan who has one of the world’s most popular podcasts.
Even restaurants, who are largely struggling during this time, are seeing ways to pivot. In New York City, restaurants can only just resume indoor dining at the end of September, and 25% capacity.
Some restaurants are offering things like weekly meal plans, however, with limited choices. This is allowing them to grow their margins and speak to the demands of the new marketplace.
Other restaurants are offering meal kits and videos that then walk you through how to cook your food at home.
Not all pivots are going to be successful, but sometimes they are necessary, as coronavirus has shown us.
It’s important to always consider the need for a pivot and to be prepared to do so strategically.