What do successful businesses have in common with ballerinas?
What can entrepreneurs learn from basketball players that might help their companies survive and even thrive amid devastating worldwide health and financial crisis?
It’s called the pivot.
What's a Pivot?
To pivot literally is to swivel or turn on a point. A basketball player or dancer might pivot gracefully on a heel. The result can be a thing of beauty or a fake-out that devastates an opponent.
For a business, pivoting often means a change in direction, a shift in strategy to adapt to meet challenges, and market needs. Another way to think of a pivot is Plan B.
Pivots can be large or small. They can be permanent or temporary.
The best pivots help move a business forward or reinvent it to allow it to grow.
Why is it Important to Pivot?
If a business becomes stuck or in danger of failing, the right pivot can revive it. Pivoting away from what doesn’t work toward new opportunities for growth can be the key to business survival and success.
Even profitable businesses may find pivoting helps them to stay relevant and continue to expand in the future.
Amid the challenges of a pandemic, business owners are finding ways forward through creativity and resourcefulness.
These entrepreneurs are refusing to give up in the face of social distancing constraints and shut-down orders. They’re assessing their strengths and providing products and services to meet evolving consumer needs.
The businesses stay anchored to their original purposes while not getting stuck.
Examples of Pivoting in Business
Some massive companies grew from pivots.
Twitter famously started as a platform for podcasts called Odeo. But when iTunes moved into that market, the company decided to change directions dramatically.
Starbucks began as a company that sold coffee beans and espresso makers.
Netflix used to send DVDs through the mail.
COVID-19 has motivated all kinds of business owners to consider pivots to increase their chances to ride out the crisis and help their communities.
- Some restaurants are becoming small grocery stores, taking advantage of their suppliers for consumers who may find certain things hard to locate.
- A hairdresser is making videos of sponsored content for the internet. Some salons are offering video consultations and customized hair color kits delivered to the home.
- A bookstore is offering concierge service, selecting books for patrons who provide information about their tastes and delivering them to customer homes.
- Movie theaters have started pop-up drive-ins at large parking lots. This meets consumer needs of getting out for entertainment while accommodating social distancing requirements. They’re also streaming new and classic films over the internet and selling their popcorn to walk-up customers.
- Music schools and fitness centers are offering classes online, expanding their student base beyond their normal geographic reach.
- Distilleries are retooling their factories to make highly demanded hand sanitizers.
How, When, Why to Pivot?
Pivots are enabling businesses to ride out the pandemic while keeping employees on the payroll. Some may find an entirely new direction that propels growth in a post-pandemic world.
If your company needs to pivot, it’s generally smart to pivot as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the opportunity to have passed.
But caution is warranted. A bad pivot can be devastating. One analysis of failed startups found 10% of the failures were blamed on pivots. Yet, another 7% of failures were because the companies didn’t pivot.
This means it’s important to be smart about pivoting.
These days, lots of companies are finding pivots necessary for survival. In general, businesses that successfully pivot are charting opportunities for growth. They’re finding better ways to connect with customers while also changing strategy to make money.
Ideally, a pivot will enable a business to hold on to its original revenue and customer base. This is done while adding to them by appealing to different needs.
Pivots and Problem Solving
A pivot can help a business owner find new uses for assets to solve customer problems in different ways.
Some companies are doing what they always did but finding ways to provide services safely. Grocery stores are taping out directions for one-way lanes to ensure customers can stay far apart from each other, for example.
Pizza restaurant chains are offering no-contact delivery, and promising employees won’t touch food after it’s cooked.
So, should your company pivot? If so, how? We can help you answer these questions and develop your brand strategy.
At StellaPop, not only do we create branding masterpieces, we guide the entrepreneurs or CEO in making this pivot. It might be the best thing your business has ever done!