What is “Pivoting” for Female Entrepreneurs, and how can you pivot for growth?
“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down,”Reid Hoffman
I love this quote. And didn’t we all jump off the cliff and build our planes on the way down in the last 8 weeks? Now it’s time to check if the plane can really fly, if it can actually take you to your destination and does it have enough fuel?
For the past 8 weeks, we have all discussed pivoting in business. But, do we really know what it does mean, what are the different strategies, when and how to pivot?
Can turning a F2F meeting into a zoom meeting be enough to pivot your business during COVID-19? What will happen next? How will you grow? Will this shift actually meet your long-term vision?
WOW, so many questions…here, I’ll do my best to answer them. Read on:
What does “Pivoting” Mean for Female Solopreneurs and Micro-business Owners?
A pivot occurs when a fundamental change is required for the survival and/or growth of your business, because your offer is not meeting your target market needs. The bible of start-up world, “The Lean Start-Up” defines it as a structured course correction, designed to test a new hypothesis about the product, strategy or growth. In this, I want to highlight “structured course correction” – as I feel that what has been happening with solopreneurs and micro-businesses during COVID-19 is everything but “structured” and it might be time to bring some kind of order and strategy to it, so that we can have a smooth transition into the “new normal”.
When Should You Pivot?
In essence, you should pivot when you see that your business has stopped its growth curve, or even started to lose revenue.
This slowdown of business could be related to different reasons:
- When the market gets too crowded: If you own a coffee shop and there are five new coffee shops opening in the neighbourhood, you might want to consider to pivot in one way or another so that either you don’t lose market share or you start to tap into new market. For example, you open a juice bar in your coffee shop which might not only serve better your existing customer base but also can attract new customers.
- Your offer has become out-dated: Do you remember those DVD rental shops? I only know a few very unique ones who were able to survive the online offers. The ones who are still here mostly niched their products to specialist movies (such as Japanese Mangas) and many others had to change totally their business.
- Your customers’ needs and expectations have changed: I have a friend who had a delicious full fat, full sugar cake shop but now most of her customers are starting to ask for “sugar-free avocado cake” – time to pivot.
- The new technology has impacted your market: You are a designer who is working with SMEs and Canva is now your biggest competitor.
- A worldwide epidemic hits you right in the face, and here we are.
What are the 5 Business Pivot Strategies to Apply? (as a solopreneur or micro-business owner)
- Adapt your services or products to the current needs and or the conditions of the market:
Fashion brands do that every year with the seasonality. They adapt their collections to our needs. Most solopreneurs in the same industry (designers, stylists, etc) have to follow the same pattern.
Some product and service pivots that I have witnessed during the lockdown were from the members of our EMPOWER Tribe community. Florists delivering weekly bunches to people’s home or caterers offering family meals etc.
- Find a new audience:
This strategy requires a lot of consideration and effort, as it means understanding the needs and expectations of a different set of customers which you haven’t served before.
I have noticed that, generally speaking, solopreneurs seem unwilling to go the extra mile when exploring this possibility. I have met one amazing lady who shifted her clothing business into PPE, which worked amazingly well for her.
This strategy can actually create bigger opportunities and develop new revenue stream during crisis.
- Employ technology in new ways.
I guess we are now all Zoom experts: yoga classes; tutoring; networking events; training; coaching; cooking classes; you name it – many small businesses were able to shift their offer to an online version. So, I think that we can all master this strategy ☺
- Focus on different lead generation tactics:
There are hundreds and hundreds of different tactics to get your message out there. A little brainstorming session will help you to flesh out some “out of the box” ideas that can open new cluster of audiences, or that can actually help you get heard in this current situation of information overflow.
- Change your revenue model:
We are hitting one of the major recessions of our lives. I strongly recommend to any SMEs but mostly female solopreneurs and micro-business owners who operate in low growth, service industries, to put your strategic hats on and think about different revenue models that your customer might find a better fit now. For example, if you have a high-ticket coaching practice, you might want to consider membership models.
How Should you Pivot?
Finally, if you have decided on one particular pivoting strategy, here are some guidelines on how to do it:
- Align your long-term vision, the new strategy’s goals, your implementation plan and give yourself some key performance indicators. For instance, if you have a bakery and your vision was to open a new one in September, check if that is going to be possible within the current climate, if not, what is your plan to make that possible and when?
- The main goal of pivoting is growing your business, so check if transforming your offer into a Zoom version is going to help you grow. If not, it means you need to adapt another strategy alongside with the Zoom meetings.
- Listen to your customers and ger their feedback on your shift.
- Don’t get hung up on your new model. Test and if does not work, don’t be afraid to change.
- Build on the work that you have been doing so far. You have a business for a reason and clients for a reason, build on your strengths.
The time for pivoting is now, and I see many EMPOWER Tribe members doing it successfully. Don’t wait for the changes to affect you. BE the change and success will follow.
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Until then, take care.