Your small business has been going along quite nicely for several years now, thank you very much. You planned your work and worked your plan, and everything was just great – until now. Something has happened which may force you to rethink the way you do things, come up with a whole new strategy, or create a new marketing plan.
Your old strategy may simply have worn out or fallen victim to the times. A new competitor in the market might be grabbing all the attention and business. Customer needs, or some other external factor, might change and significantly impact your normal operating routine. In the business world, that is known as having to pivot. Here are a few steps you can take if your business finds itself in need of a strategy overhaul:
- Don’t Panic: Yes, it is a big change, but plenty of businesses have faced the need to redirect their operations and often come out bigger, better and stronger. In 2013 Forbes published a list of some of the most famous business pivots, including Twitter, PayPal, Groupon, Starbucks, and Instagram. You may not have all the resources they do, but you can still pivot successfully nonetheless. Gather your information, study what your competitors are doing, and ask your employees for their input.
- Talk to Your Mentors: A good business mentor can help you sort through the ups and downs of the transition. It can be somebody who has already done this, or even somebody in your business who is not a direct competitor. Throw out your ideas, ask questions, and be open to their input.
- Evaluate Your Systems: Look at how you have been doing business and decide whether it works or not. Don’t just keep doing something because that’s the way it has always been done. Is there a better, faster, more cost-effective way of achieving the same result?
- Think Through the Alternatives: Brainstorm a number of possible alternatives, and then come up with a list of positives and negatives for each. Write them on big sheets of paper, use a spreadsheet, or use a smart board – just put the ideas out there without a lot of initial judgment as to whether an approach will really work.
- Be Open to New Ideas: Sometimes staying put is actually moving backwards. With the speed of change inherent in business today, it is simply not possible to continue doing things the same way forever. Look at new ways of completing everyday tasks, investigate new marketing opportunities, and find someone who can help build a social media presence that will bring business to you.
- Communicate, Communicate: Change can be hard on everyone, so don’t keep your plans to yourself. Let your employees, vendors, and customers know what you are doing and solicit their input along the way.
Don’t get complacent once you think you have successfully implemented a business pivot strategy – you never know when you might need to pivot again!