My family likes to
debate everything. It doesn’t matter the subject, verbal sparring is typically the order of the day. And because our conversations are generally more for play than war, we can start on one side and end on another. Sometimes our
arguments discussions wind around from topic to topic or become more nuanced and wherever we finish, it doesn't sound a thing like the initial subject.
Business can be a lot like those conversations. Businesses, whatever the size or age, will have a moment of realization that wherever they intended to go when the began, they don’t want to go that direction anymore. Sometimes it happens without your awareness, you wake up one morning and discover you’re in Phoenix when you thought you were going to San Francisco.
Wherever you are in the evolution of your business, it’s very likely that at some point you’re going to discover that you need to pivot. Perhaps what you’ve built is too broad and you need to narrow your offerings or your target audience. Eliminate a service that doesn’t fit what you really want to do. Or maybe you’ve built something that isn’t scalable. Maybe you have a sub-business that is actually really your main business, or you want it to be your main business. Sometimes the market changes and there is simply not enough demand for what you were originally selling and you need to change your offerings. Whatever the reason, most businesses recognize a moment that they need to pivot and change direction. It could be a couple degrees, or a complete 180.
When you are ready to make a shift in your business, it is hugely beneficial to make the pivot with strategic intent. Take a holistic approach, and step back to take a look at your entire enterprise. You are changing directions, for whatever reason, and you need to make sure that your business identity and marketing keep up with the change.
Once you have decided to pivot, here are some things you need to think about as part of the process:
1 | Review your sales channels
Are your current sales funnels appropriate for your new business direction? For example, if you are an event planner pivoting your business away from weddings and toward corporate events, attending bridal shows probably isn’t the best use of your money or time. Think about where your new client base will connect with you and make sure you have a presence there. Are they likely to be on Instagram vs. LinkedIn? Do you need to do more in-person networking? Have more of an online presence? Meet people in certain industries? Compare where you currently expect to find customers and see if it aligns with your new direction. If they don’t align, you need to find new sales channels.
2 | Watch Your Language
Your entire online presence has been built on your pre-pivot strategy. Take a look at your content and make sure it fits with the new direction. All the metadata on your website, the keywords, tag lines, and written content on each website page need to be updated to reflect the new information. Look at blog posts, your social media content, your videos, etc . Is there is anything that you specifically need to remove? Are your words driving the wrong kind of client your direction? If you are a cleaning agency and absolutely do not want another phone call from an apartment manager, remove every reference to multi-unit cleaning services from your online content. Clean up your own site and make it clear that service is no longer on the menu (literally). Begin to create new content that tells prospective clients about the new, more focused, or changed products and services you offer.
3 | Evaluate business tools
Is your technology right for the new business direction? Sometimes when you make a change in direction, the technology part is an afterthought. You’re selling mostly at farmer’s markets but are pivoting to sell primarily online. Does online sales integrate with your current website? What payment gateways are available through your website, do you need to sign up for that gateway? Is the interest rate acceptable?
4 | Show what you want to sell
Depending on the type of pivot, you might need to make an adjustment to your entire business image. Reintroduce yourself to the world as the new and improved version of your business with your new ideal client at the forefront. This would be the right time for a new website or a major website refresh. Remember, your business image should reflect the business you WANT to have. Here’s a great article on using your website to reflect your vision. One way to clearly show your new direction is to update imagery on your website and your marketing. Refesh your logo, your colors, and your photos. If you are a contractor and you used to do mostly commercial development but now you want to focus on residential, it would make sense to remove pictures of commercial projects from your home page.
5 | Let go of that which no longer serves you
We should probably all apply a little Marie Kondo to our businesses in general. But in a pivot, evaluating what is and isn’t working is important to keep your message clear. It’s also financially wise because you may be paying for technology you no longer need, or keeping inventory that is just taking up space. It could mean changing vendors or office locations. It’s okay to let go of things that no longer serve you. As Marie would say, thank it for all the wonderful things it has done and then let it go.
If you are currently pivoting your business, congratulations to you. Finding your new direction and working toward your new goals is such a fun place to be in your business. Enjoy the process!
I have been through a few pivots over my multiple careers (including the pivot of changing careers!) I’m happy to share my experience with you.