What to do when you need to change things in your business
Success in business takes one part tunnel vision and one part open mindedness. And while that may seem like a contradiction, it makes perfect sense to those entrepreneurs out there trying to make every day matter. The ability to stay focused on what’s most important in the business is equally as important as having a vision for the new things that may be game changers.
Of the conversations I often have, some talk about the unexpected changes that required a complete business transformation for survival. And others just feel a strong urge to move in a different direction – concerned that it might break their soul if they do and break them financially if they don’t.
Often, when I have multiple conversations within a week’s time about the same topic, I’m compelled to write about it. Today, I’ll be talking about the pivot. The pivot is when your business is rocking along (or dragging along), and you know it’s time for a change. The change may or may not completely redefine your business, but it could definitely potentially change things and affect your customers or clients. So, the question is, how do you know when it’s the right time to pivot? And how do you do it gracefully?
Numbers don’t lie.
We all know you had a dream and a passion to start your endeavor, and we’re so proud of you for it. But if you’re losing money, or declining in revenue month after month, it’s time for a pivot. For the owner of a brick and mortar, this may mean considering the switch to becoming an online business. For those selling one or two products or services, this may mean hunkering down to offer more. For those who can’t get inventory out the door in a timely manner, this may mean dropping some products to be more affective and offer better customer service.
Your heart won’t lie.
It’s time for a heart – and gut – check. What thoughts fill your brain when your head hits the pillow? First, I’ll tell you, EVERY entrepreneur feels like a hamster in a wheel from time to time. That feeling is somewhat normal. But if the wheel feels like it’s unhinged and spiraling down a dead end road, that’s when it’s time for an SOS.
When you start to feel this way, go back to your original vision for the company. Then, allow yourself to look at your 3, 5 and 10 year plan with a fresh eyes. Invite people you trust into the process. This is when it’s time to get real with yourself. If your original vision doesn’t match up to where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years, pivot.
Your closest friends or family won’t lie.
Ask your people. The thing you’ve been most afraid to do this whole time because you don’t want to hear an “I told you so.” Your friends have the most insight into you personally and what you can and can’t handle. And they can see when you’re breaking down. Ask them if they think it’s time for you to pivot.
How to pivot gracefully.
Don’t make decisions quickly.
There’s a reason it’s called a pivot and not a knee jerk. The life of your business is marathon, not a sprint. If you’re feeling that hamster spiral situation happening, write down what’s going on, how you feel and make a list of potential solutions to the problem.
Next, get feedback.
Take this list to your family, closest business-minded friends and customers. Pull records of who has purchased from you the most in the last year or two.
Don’t just make a change. First, communicate to your email list and customers via social media to let them know the why behind the what. Explain to them what’s happening, but most importantly, why it’s happening. Make sure they know that you have their best interest in mind.
Also, get an action plan. Don’t just make the decision and sit on it. Stand confident in your decision and draw out an action plan to make the changes, making customer communication #1). Then, plan out how the next year looks for your business with these new changes adopted, phasing things into your new state little each
Congrats. Now breathe. It wasn’t the end of the world. You survived. This pivot could be the best move you’ve ever made in your business. Write down why you made this pivot on paper somewhere you can see it every day. Maybe even write down those things that kept you up at night before you started. And when you start question or down, or consider a pivot back, go back to that piece of paper and remember the things that got you here.
Pivots don’t have to be dramatic. They just need to be done carefully and confidently. And if you truly felt called to this business you have, your responsibility is to stay committed to it, even if it involves a little pivot from time to time.