When To Pivot: 6 Times Shifting Strategies Will Benefit Your Business
Part of being a prudent entrepreneur is knowing when change is necessary and carrying out that change effectively. There will inevitably come a time when you need to respond to a crisis, react to fluctuations in the market, or remedy an internal misstep. In many of these situations, pivoting is the best path forward.
Pivoting is a nerve-wracking process for any entrepreneur in which you abandon a previous strategy in favor of a new path forward. The future can look uncertain as you make unprecedented changes to how you’ve done business. We hope this blog post allows you to approach pivoting with some confidence. We’ll walk you through six times when pivoting might be best for your business and give you some tips for enacting change with ease.
1. The Dreaded PR Crisis
Whoops! Something happened that impacts the public perception of your brand. Accidents like this happen all the time. For example, a scheduled social media post could unwittingly coincide unfortunately with a breaking news story. Or you might just experience a communication flub in which you try to get a message across, but the public reads it completely differently. These instances require some thought and effort to navigate smoothly. Oftentimes, it pays to have an experienced PR professional in your corner.
After something like this happens, your business will be viewed differently. That means you need to decide how to reposition your brand to either get back to where you started or find a new space in the market to occupy. Most likely, you will need to pivot your marketing strategy to focus on winning back the goodwill of your audience. The first step is to find out where you stand after the dust settles, decide where you want to go, and then build a new strategy to get there.
2. New Competitor Enters the Market
New competitors can take you by surprise! That’s why it’s so important to stay aware of what’s happening in the market landscape surrounding your business. Make sure to do market research regularly. Remember that your VA can help with that! This will allow you to keep tabs on new players and how they might impact your business moving forward.
New competitors might introduce novel (and sometimes better) solutions to the problems that you’re already addressing with your customers. It might come in the form of a new technology that your business is not prepared to adopt or compete with. This is a tough situation to encounter as an entrepreneur because it puts your business at risk as the competitor begins eating away at your market share. The best thing you can do is stay objective to try to find a viable path forward. Depending on your ability to compete with this new player, you might need to pivot your overall business strategy.
3. Economic Downturn
An economic downturn impacts almost everyone in an economy. That means your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and your competitors will all be dealing with the consequences. A slowed economy often results in a decline in sales because businesses and consumers are less likely to spend money. Interest rates also increase which makes it more difficult for you to secure outside funding.
Your business will need to pivot to respond to these changes. Most businesses start by cutting costs. You might need to offload some services or slim down your operations. You might need to pull back on marketing strategies or change your approach to winning new business. We cover this topic in more detail in our recent blog post. Check that out here.
4. A New Law that Impacts How You Do Business
Many industries are subject to heavy regulations. For example, manufacturers must follow specific OSHA regulations meant to keep workers safe. The way you structure your business, pay your taxes, and sell or market your goods or services are also bound by laws at the local, state, and federal levels. These regulations can change as new laws are implemented or regulatory bodies roll out new rules.
A new regulation might change how your business operates, how you document business activities, or how you market your business. You will be forced to pivot in order to meet these new requirements. In some cases, the regulations will have a heavy impact on your business. So much so that the best strategy might be pivoting to a new industry, products, or services. Try to evaluate the situation objectively to understand what moves will make the most sense for the future of your business.
5. An Important Vendor Becomes Unavailable
Do you have a vendor or partner that you rely on to run your business? Keep an eye on these relationships as potential risks. For example, if you run an e-commerce business on Shopify, the platform going down would essentially halt sales. This can happen in other industries as well. If the company you rely on for specific supplies goes out of business, your operations will slow, if not stop altogether. Having a contingency plan in place might help mitigate this risk.
In these situations, you will need to find a workaround. Look for the simplest solution to get your business back up and running, even if it is not sustainable. This will at least buy time until you can find another solution that will work moving forward. Brainstorm with your team and rely on your business network for advice or connections that might help you.
6. A Crucial Team Member Leaves
Teams shift and change. That’s just a fact of life. People move on with their careers, have children, decide to follow their passion project, or become ill. Either way, losing a critical team member can upend your business if you’re not prepared—especially if it happens with little warning.
Understand how the absence of this team member will impact your operations. Which of their regular tasks are pivotal to business? Can any of them be immediately assigned to other team members while you create a plan? Keep in mind that this might be an opportunity to promote an employee who has been performing well. This might even be the time to rearrange your org chart to build a team that better fits your growing business.
How to Pivot Successfully
Whatever causes your business to pivot, there are a few things you can do to ensure your new strategy is implemented well and delivers meaningful results.
- Stay objective. These changes are scary. You will feel like you need to take action immediately, or you might want to simply ignore the problem because you wish it wasn’t happening. Neither inaction nor reacting rashly will lead to a favorable outcome for your business. Objectively analyze the situation before moving forward.
- Get advice. You’re not in this alone! Source ideas from your business network, advisors, and mentors. Another entrepreneur may have faced a similar problem in the past and has just the insight you need to make a great pivot.
- Be creative. Often, the best solution is one that is the most out of the box. Change is hard when you’re used to how your business has been operating, but some of the instances above might be an awesome opportunity to take your business in an exciting new direction. Try to stay optimistic about what this change might mean for your business in the future.
- Plan, plan, plan. The minute you realize you’re going to need to pivot, you should get working on a strategic plan. Think through both short-term and long-term solutions to the problem you’re facing. Write out specific goals and come up with contingency plans. Understand exactly what parameters will prompt you to switch to plan B or C.
- Get your team on board. Explain your pivot to your team, get their input, and make sure they can get behind your plan. You’ll need them to make this work!
Pivot With VA Support
Pivoting is tricky! You’re entering uncharted territory with the hopes that your decision will end with the best results for your business. That’s a hard thing to do alone. With the support of a Virtual Assistant, you’ll always have someone to back you up and support any new business efforts that you need to take on.
Virtual Assistants are flexible and can move with you. They can take up new projects, work on tight deadlines, and connect you with resources to help you navigate challenges quickly and effectively. With a VA supporting your business, you will always have a second set of hands to pitch in during the toughest moments. To find out more about how a VA can support your business.
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