Tips for pivoting your business

Local and national distilleries are using their facilities to make hand sanitizer. Jock strap manufacturers are learning to create a different type of protective gear. Hotels are offering up their rooms for healthcare workers and those who need a place to quarantine or recover. Whether it’s out of greed or need, businesses of every size and type are pivoting their business models in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of these businesses, it’s a way of doing their part to contribute to the cause and their communities. For others, it’s the only way their business can survive given supply chain issues, government restrictions and shifting consumer needs and demands. And, unfortunately for some, it’s strictly to advance their own cause and take advantage of the situation.

These types of changes may be a short-term fix or something that will continue—at least into the near future. In fact, many of these “temporary” pivots have become so successful, that businesses are considering maintaining them, long after the pandemic is over.

As with any business decision, changing your model is nothing to take lightly, but time is of the essence. Here are some things to keep in mind when pivoting the way you do business.

Brainstorm Ideas

Set up an informal brainstorming session to kick around some ideas. Ask questions such as “what if we did this?” Open it up to employees, current customers, prospective customers, your advertising or marketing agency, even other local businesses. Remember, good ideas can come from anywhere. This will help you gauge the current unmet needs, your true business capabilities, any financial investment that would be needed, consumer desire and employee enthusiasm—all before you develop a plan.

Develop a Plan

Once you have a clear picture of where you want to go and how you want to do it, develop a plan that includes goals, a timeline, and metrics to measure your success so you can make any adjustments as needed. Much like starting a new business, pivoting your existing one could take time to see results. Be open to trying new things. And be patient.

Stay True to Your Values

While the current environment is far from conducive to business as usual, the one thing that must never waiver is your commitment to your core values. They are the heart of your brand. Developing trust and brand equity may take years, but all that hard work can be destroyed in an instant if your business doesn’t project itself in a way that is consistent to your values and beliefs. As you begin to develop new ways of how you’re doing business, continue to ask yourself why you’re doing it. If the answer to that is in line with your mission, vision and values, then you’re on the right track.

Do What You Do Best

As an established business, you have distinct competencies. It’s important to build upon those strengths and use them to your advantage, rather than stray too far outside your comfort zone. For instance, let’s say you are a top manufacturer of plastic containers. It makes much more sense that you would expand your capabilities to include plastic face shields than to suddenly start making frozen pizzas. When it comes to changing or expanding on your business model, the less you have to alter, the quicker you can go to market and the more cost effective it will be. Start with the equipment, logistics and resources you have in place and figure out ways you can use them to meet your business goals and customer demand.

Remember Your Loyal Customers

By enhancing or altering your offering, you may attract a completely new audience, which is great. However, you don’t want to abandon the customers whose trust and loyalty you’ve earned over time. In fact, it’s more important than ever to stay connected and top of mind with current customers. Send an email, text or call to ask how they’re doing, let them know you’re thinking of them and offer any support. You can also make them aware of any changes you’re thinking of making, ask for their opinions and let them feel like an important part of the process and the future of your brand. They will be your greatest advocates.

The Bottom Line

This is a trying time for everyone. Remember, out of challenges come opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. Decide if the benefits of changing your business model outweigh the risks of doing nothing. Then follow the guidelines above, but more importantly, follow your heart.