The Business Pivot: Do I Have to Do It?

A strategic pivot can be used to create a shift in your business. From a defensive position where the game has changed, you have to pivot in order to survive. From an offensive position, the pivot helps you seize an opportunity to grow your business. Regardless of your circumstance, both shifts require you to pause, take stock, and assess your next move so that you can move forward deliberately and with purpose.

While “pandemic” was voted as the 2020 Word of the Year, you probably haven’t escaped the year either without hearing the word “pivot” with more frequency than in the past. We’ve all heard amazing stories of companies that have taken up opportunities this year to shift their focus by changing either their product offering, their target consumers, their delivery method, or the way they do business.

Does that mean that your business should be pivoting too? 

As business advisers, our job is not just about finding the answers, but about asking the right questions. There are two further questions that you can explore to properly answer the first one. 

Question one:  Has the game changed?  If yes, defensive pivot.

Question two:  Is there an opportunity? If yes, offensive pivot.

The game has changed – pivot!

Basketball provides the best analogy for pivot strategy. When faced with a big, massive player in front of us who is stopping us from reaching our goal, we have to pivot in order to survive and keep playing the game. We cannot delay. 

There is no denying that the game has changed massively for many businesses this year. For some, this happened instantly, especially for those in hospitality, tourism, and retail. However, for some, the changes are taking time to flow through.

Many businesses had projects lined up for the full 2020 year and they’ve successfully been able to catch up on lost time and work continuously.  What happens, however, when that work finishes? Is the work still coming through in the same way as previously?  Are your supplies still as readily available as they were in the past? What change is your business facing? Have you got employees that are working from home now?

What massive big player is standing in your path that’s making you reassess your business operations?

There is an opportunity – pivot! 

Continuing with the basketball analogy, in an offensive pivot, one leg is strongly planted with the other free to move. This way, you can take a 360 degree look around at what opportunities we might have in order to reach our goal. Think of the companies that swiftly mobilised to manufacture masks or offer online delivery of their services—doing these opened them up to new products, customers, and delivery methods. 

In this case, it’s about being open to opportunities and taking time to look for them. You can ask yourself questions like: What solutions can you offer?  What unfulfilled needs can you meet? How else could you deliver your service? Who else could use your products or service? What assets have you got that could be repurposed? Who could you connect or collaborate with? 

It is assessing how the environment has changed and what opportunities have arisen as a result. Can you take advantage of any of these opportunities?

How do I pivot?

In business, your pivot point is your vision, your mission statement, and your values. Clarity of purpose at this time is essential. This is your strong foundation, what makes you and your business unique and not what you want to change. If the core of your business changes, then you are not pivoting, you are jumping—which might be appropriate, but it is not pivoting.

A change in strategy is your business pivot move. This is where you can make your changes and either move to survive or move to thrive and seize an opportunity to achieve your company’s vision.

So, when you are (hopefully) taking some time to pause over the summer break, or before you rush into “business as usual” (whatever that is these days), you could dust off that business plan, remind yourself of your purpose, and then start asking some questions.

Ask your customers – they might have some clues.

If you are struggling, a good place to start is by talking to your customers.

What do they need right now? What problems do they have and how can you add value? Be willing to listen (really listen) to all of what they are saying, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Businesses are often their own worst enemies in that respect, comfortable with the status quo and confident in their expert status. Be willing to let go of the strategies that you have been employing in order to free yourself to move in another, more sustainable and profitable direction.


BDO Business Advisers can help

At BDO, we want your organisation to stay relevant and help you to not just survive but thrive during these ever-changing times. Collectively, our team has the experience and the expertise to help you to consider your next move, whatever that may be. We really enjoy working with our clients, supporting and backing them to achieve their goals.

Get in touch with our business advisers today to get the expert advice and insight you need to confidently grow your business.