Pivoting your business this new year

Amid the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the main things that has helped small and medium-sized businesses survive and remain resilient is the ability to quickly and decisively adapt to the challenges they face.

While some business owners laboured under the assumption that the pandemic would be a temporary thing and that the market would soon return to normal and others just followed their gut instincts, studies have shown that the businesses that thrived in the pandemic have actively invested in adapting their business and focused on making lasting changes to secure future growth.

As 2022 begins, small businesses across the UK are facing another turbulent year, with the pandemic still an ongoing, unpredictable factor and other pressures including the continuing impact of Brexit, supply chain difficulties and political uncertainty all contributing to a challenging market.

Therefore, being nimble, having the ability to respond to challenges and the readiness to pivot your business and make changes in order to target future growth remain skills that are as important as they were when the pandemic began nearly two years ago. Here are three key things to bear in mind when pivoting your business.

Plan your shift strategically around your existing business
The first step of pivoting should be asking some basic questions to identify how your business can adapt in a way that will help you to not only survive what the future holds, but thrive. Consider your business’ existing assets and skills, the market you currently serve and the value you offer.

These basic facts will help with the next key step, which is considering and identifying the new problems faced by your customers or clients and how your business could be adapted to meet them. After all, pivoting doesn’t have to be drastic – sometimes it represents a natural extension of an existing business model.

For example, consider how consumer-goods brands pivoted away from beauty products to hand sanitisers and surface cleaners during the initial stages of the pandemic, or how any number of businesses kept their original business models in tact, but simply added a delivery service to keep them in touch with a customer base living under lockdown.

These are all examples of businesses carefully considering how they can pivot to what their customers need, utilising their existing assets and skillset as resourcefully as possible. Carefully planning a similar move, in which your transition draws deeply on your existing strengths, is key to successfully pivoting.

Plan in-depth
Once you have an idea of how your business can pivot towards new challenges, the next step will be plotting how the changes will be put into effect. Outlining a concrete plan establishing the logistics of the transition, such as a timeframe and the infrastructure and supplies required for the pivot will be a vital early step.

When the requirements of your transition are in place, you can begin planning carrying it out, for example, by exploring what financial resources you will need. Can you attract private investors? Or are there perhaps government-backed grants or loans that your business would be eligible for?

Finally, but certainly not the least important step of your plan, will be getting your team on-board and in the loop. Bring your staff fully up-to-date with your transition plans so that, firstly, they are prepared for the changes and, secondly, so you can draw on their skills and suggestions during the pivoting process.

Move decisively and with certainty
While it is certainly normal to have a sense of trepidation when undertaking a fundamental shift in how your business operates, you don’t want to be pivoting your company with serious second thoughts or the feeling that you might be making a mistake.

If you go into the process with such a mindset then, not only might you be making a mistake, you might find that the transition itself soon runs into serious issues. Second thoughts will impede your ability to think clearly and act decisively and with confidence in your decisions.

So, before, you begin your pivot, ensure that you are absolutely certain that it’s the right move for your business and that you have full confidence in your company’s ability to make the shift and fully take advantage of it.

Finally, despite all of this, you’ll also need to be prepared for mistakes and bumps along the road as you undertake a business transition. This is completely normal and, if you ensure that you troubleshoot and prepare, these teething issues shouldn’t be enough to derail a solid plan for pivoting.