Is Pivoting in Business Necessary? Hear from Our ExpertsMorgan Gertler
COVID-19 has caused many people to pivot unexpectedly. From CEOs to stay-at-home parents to educators, everyone had to learn quickly how to shift and embrace this new normal. But pivoting in business is not for everyone. Some businesses are better off weathering the storm while others would be smart to shift as soon as possible. How do you know which category you fall under? Check out the advice from these experts to get some insight.
Meet the Experts
Kela Taylor owns and operates a few different businesses, with Universal Salon Suites being her latest and largest venture. It provides workspaces to beauty entrepreneurs with a 10,020 square foot facility.
Loren Feldman has been covering entrepreneurship and business for over 20 years, with some of his time working at Inc. Magazine, The New York Times, and Forbes. Then a few years ago he took what he learned at those three great companies and partnered with someone to create a community for business owners in the US.
Unfortunately, they ran into the COVID crisis and it’s been a tougher climb than he had hoped for. (I bet many of us understand this first-hand). He started something called 21hats.com that offers a daily newsletter, a podcast, and a platform that’s a combination of content and community.
Vikram Rajan understands what Kela’s going through when it comes to running multiple businesses and has experienced what Loren’s talking about when it comes to not having everything work out the way you expected it to. And with the shifts happening right now, Vikram has put together phoneblogger.net, which pulls content for their clients.
Clients are lawyers, accountants, consultants, and more who find new business through word of mouth referrals. So they need to stay top of mind with anyone that could bring them business, including current clients, past clients, and peers. Traditionally, it used to be blog posts that would be pushed out by email and then posted on social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and others depending on the client.
A Shift in Social Media
We’ve seen pivoting in business but there’s also been a dramatic shift in social media as of late. When you scroll Facebook or LinkedIn you’ll notice that many posts are video. Vikram didn’t want his clients to fall behind but the algorithms changed to prioritizing videos.
So his team started telling clients:
“Hey, you got to go out there, work with videographers, get the videos onYouTube and then we could run with it as a content marketing firm.”
But none of his clients did it. The time, the budget, the post-filming work was just too much. So Vikram’s team had to pivot as well. “What if we could just invite them onto a conference call, like a Zoom call, where we conduct a round table and each person can present a two- to three-minute nugget of knowledge?”
And that’s how it turned into a video blogging community.
Is There A Right Way to Pivot in Business?
Loren Feldman believes that there are many different ways to pivot within business. And he had an example to share with us:
His newest member is a guy named Paul Downs and he has a company that makes high-end custom conference tables. He sells them primarily to business owners. But right now his phone has stopped ringing. With so many people working from home, commercial space is not what it used to be, and therefore furniture isn’t a hot commodity right now. Many people have been telling him that he’s got to pivot in business. For example, make desks for people who are working at home. But after speaking with Loren he came to the conclusion that this would actually be a mistake.
Paul feels that there are a lot of people already selling expensive desks to use at home. And they do it really well. Paul makes conference tables that can cost up to $30,000 or $40,000. He’s not really equipped to start making $400 desks and find room for a profit.
So he’s going to hunker down. He’s going to try to reduce salaries across the board and won’t take a salary himself. He’s trying to do whatever it takes to survive and get to the other end of this crisis. But for Paul, getting to the other side doesn’t include pivoting.
Pivoting in Business: New Technology
Vikram explains that most of his members are in the professional services field. Many are starting to use technologies like Zoom and other types of remote software programs so that they’re able to have situations where they can telecommute and have portals for clients to upload things.
They’re realizing that everyone can be more mobile and virtual which means they can go into a more national market. Now, this isn’t always possible depending on licenses or certifications that only work in specific states or areas of practice. But the concept of pivoting in business doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning what you’re doing. It can be extending or springboarding from what you’re used to into something that is relatively new.
Resiliency in Yourself
One of the things that Loren has always puzzled over with entrepreneurs is that to start a business and have any success at all, you have to be willing to ignore the advice you get from everybody else. It’s easy to find people that are going to say, “That’s not going to work. Somebody is already doing that.” There are a million reasons not to start a business, and yet the people who do it keep pushing forward and they keep surmounting hurdles.
“You learn to trust yourself. You learn to trust your own judgment. But then you get to a certain point where maybe you’ve reached the limits of your experience, and you’ve got to start listening to other people and you need to take in that advice.”
Loren feels that we are in one of those moments right now where you have to balance your inner strength and your certainty with the advice you’re hearing from other people. But there’s no right answer for everybody. There are some people who should stop, the answer isn’t to keep going no matter what.
“Don’t take criticism from anyone that you wouldn’t take advice from.”
There are times when (especially a moment like this), if you run a restaurant, the right answer might be to preserve whatever you have left and fight another day. The answer is not always to keep going. Sometimes the question you need to answer is when do you stop? And that’s worth thinking about.
Running Multiple Businesses
Vikram’s two businesses are very similar, so they overlap quite a bit. And he recommends this “cheat” for anyone who is looking to have several businesses — keep them in close connection. Vikram also recommends having a great business partner, which he has as well. He feels that having a partner gives him leverage because it’s someone who brings skills and ideas to the table where Vikram may be lacking.
I like knowing that there are going to be people that will also push back on me. I don’t want, yes people around me. I never want to be the smartest person in the room and it’s hardly ever. I’m able to rely on the expertise of others and be able to really bring in good people.
Vikram said that the more he can surround himself with the people that he works with, the happier he is. And in the end, that’s the goal isn’t it? So even if you are pivoting in business, don’t lose focus of the end goal: creating a life that makes you happy.
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