Pivot’s one of those words that we’re hearing a lot at the moment; a word usually associated with a ballet dancer, being able to turn nimbly on their ‘pointe’ shoes. But a word that has, over the last four months, been increasingly relevant to businesses as they seek to trade in the new world of COVID-19.
No doubt you had clear goals set in place for your business at the start of the year. You’d have pored over figures, spreadsheets and graphs. You’d have done detailed analyses, made forecasts and drawn up plans.
Yet when the context for those spreadsheets and plans is pulled right from under you by a global pandemic, those plans have to change. But what change do you need? What questions do you need to ask as you pivot your business? How and what are you pivoting?
Assessing the situation
As a business owner you will likely have been working without break, having to make significant reactive decisions that you would usually have taken months to plan – you may have had to furlough your entire workforce – perhaps even yourself, or send all your workforce home to work – or significantly change how your team work on site to enable them to work safely and maintain social distancing.
So now is the time to create some space to think, to step back and take stock – give yourself permission to work on, not in your business. Consider what your business will look like in a post-lockdown world has the primary purpose of your business changed? Has your route to market changed?
Many business owners have found that being forced to take these reactive decisions may have taken your business in directions you would never have thought possible before. Allow yourself to think creatively and consider new opportunities.
The next step is to scan the business horizon – what it looks like now and what it may look like in six or twelve-month’s time:
- What does the new environment look like?
- Where are your usual customers in this new world?
- What are they looking for that’s different?
- How have their behaviours changed?
Think about how the pandemic has affected your long-term performance and strategy.
- Are your products and services still relevant for your customers?
- How could you adapt them?
- Where might new customers be found?
- What are the new risks to your business?
- – have your cash reserves been significantly depleted – do you fully understand your cost base? Have you revised your financial forecasts?
- What impact would a second national or local lockdown have on your business; how can you mitigate this risk.
- Can you use technology to help you deliver your offering to customers?
Looking to the future
One thing is for sure – “business as usual” is will likely, continue to look very different for the short to possibly medium term. But the secret about pivoting is that you stay fixed to your centre. Stay true to your core values and your core purpose, turn towards the new opportunities but avoid getting distracted by “the shiny stuff” – seemingly low hanging fruit that will distract you from your core purpose consuming time and resource but adding little real value.
Think about your product or service, what your customers value about it and adapt it as necessary to the new circumstances.
That may mean offering something entirely different. It may mean being more flexible in your route to market – your opening times or means of delivery. It may mean increasing your online presence. Figures by Statista showed that the use of social media increased globally by 21% during lockdown so consider how you can capitalise on using these channels. Do you know which channels your target market consume? Find out – maximise your exposure on these.
Think about those businesses that have successfully pivoted to meet demand. Pubs and restaurants quickly diversified to offer takeaways and deliveries. Garden centres set of Facebook pages to display their plants, took telephone orders walking you virtually around the centre and then delivered to your door. Brewing companies and gin distilleries started making hand sanitiser. Other companies used their machines to make visors and PPE. Gyms adapted their classes to go online. Live events companies pivoted to offer successful online experiences.
Brands that have survived during lockdown are the ones that have been innovative and quick to respond. It will be those that continue to be nimble, proactive (not reactive) and future-focused that will survive.
So while pivoting may involve a re-thinking of your business model, it is possible with considered, but not over analysis of the various scenarios and should always be in a direction your customers will embrace.
Winner of Money Marketing Best Retirement Advisor of the Year 2020 Henwood Court Financial Planning can work with you as your personal finance director and as you would for your business, review the impact of this pandemic on your personal finances – providing you and your family expert planning and guidance. To book an initial ‘virtual’ meeting with a Chartered Financial Planner where we can answer any practical questions you may have about your own affairs or how we work please telephone the office on 0121 313 1370 or use the following link to book an appointment using Calendly.
At Henwood Court we work with entrepreneurs and business owners supporting them through transformational financial planning to enjoy their ideal lifestyle achieving their personal aspirations free from money worries, and to ensure a successful transition to retiree. Businesssense® supports our business owner clients with informative articles and practical webinars.
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