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Seven Steps to Successfully Pivot in the Pandemic

Author: Larry Chester, President

The pandemic has changed the way many businesses need to operate.  Recently, we wrote a blog on evaluating your company’s core competencies, and deciding what you need to do to pivot your business in a new direction, to address the “new normal” that is business in a COVID environment.  Decision making as to what your pivot looks like is only the first step to get your company moving in that new direction.

Below are seven steps to begin to shift your company’s energy toward the pivot:

  • Estimate and assess the damage – By looking at your financial reports, you can certainly determine how much revenue you’ve lost as a result of the pandemic. Has it been across the board, or is there one part of your business that’s been affected more than others?   Do you think the affected portions of your business will come back?  How will your pivot make that recovery possible?  When you’re done, will your business return to pre-COVID levels, or will your company operate as a new, smaller but more efficient version of its former self?
  • Estimate the upside of your pivot – Develop a more complete understanding of the impact your pivot is going to have on your business. Use your team to Envision, Plan, and Detail the steps needed to get restarted.  Involving them will infuse much needed energy into your organization.  What kind of boost do you expect to get and how soon will it come to pass?  What can you do to accelerate the impact?
  • Create a new plan, a new budget for the remainder of this year and next year.  Since there’s only a few months left, continue your planning into next year.  It’s nearly time to create next year’s budget anyway.   Be realistic but show your staff that this isn’t a short term solution.  You’re visualizing the future.   Evaluating your revenue is just one part of the picture.  You also need to look at how your COGS and all your ancillary expenses will be affected.
  • Evaluate the specifics of your pivot. Does it involve new products or services?  How long will it take to evaluate new sources of supply – and select one.  How much staff development is needed to deliver the new services?  What does your commitment need to be to make the shift?  How sure are you of success in this new direction?  Can you take small steps to gauge the success potential before taking the big leap?
  • Determine your staff needs. This isn’t just a matter of deciding what current employees you’ll keep and which ones you’ll let go, it’s also a matter of reviewing how that pivot changes your need for particular skills and abilities.  Are there services that you can hire on a fractional basis, like a CFO, a marketing executive, an outsourced sales manager, or part time programmers rather than bringing on full time employees?  The Gig Economy is alive and well, for nearly every aspect of business.  Take advantage of highly skilled individuals at a fraction of the cost of hiring them full time.
  • Discover your updated delivery method. Restaurants moved to curbside pickup.  Retail stores changed to mail order shipments.  Medical providers started using Tele-Health to deliver their services.  Consultants who worked face to face are now utilizing remote services.  Is your normal method of delivery no longer possible?  How do you need to change it to still reach your customers and delivery your products and services? Have you evaluated the different delivery options, the different costs and benefits of each?
  • Communicate with your customers. You can make all the changes that you want to meet the new needs of the marketplace, but if you aren’t informing your customers about the new services, new products or delivery methods, how can they possibly continue to purchase from you?  What is the best vehicle to inform your clients of changes in your operation?  Phone calls, email marketing, social media postings, and digital advertising are some of the ways of informing your customers.

The road of the entrepreneur is not easy, but you already know that.  You’ve spent years thinking, planning and working to create your company, providing products and services to your customers, and a sustainable living for yourself and your employees. There have been roadblocks, bad weather, competition, poor decisions, and difficulties of all kinds in front of you.  And you have succeeded against all odds.  You need to decide what is needed to keep your business running.  The world is still turning.  People are still buying.  Companies are still operating.  In order to continue your success, you need to develop a new plan and put it in place.  Your business may not be what it used to be, but the economy has changed.  Your customers have changed.  You need to as well.

Make changes today that affect profitability tomorrow. 

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