Three ways small businesses are pivoting to stay alive

Due to COVID—19 many companies and even some sectors are pivoting business operations or entire models in order to just stay solvent. 

Small businesses and startups — who generally are already short on resources — need to identify areas of highest likely return on current resources when looking at structural changes to their business.

Three common ways of pivoting a business are by changing:

  • How you sell
  • Who you sell to
  • What you are selling

How you sell

Overnight bricks and mortar stores who predominantly relied on high frequency foot traffic shuttered. Industries like traditional retail and hospitality immediately needed to take their business online in order to sell anything.  

Restaurants for example pivoted to selling 100% of sales via takeout, so the businesses already using delivery apps like GrubHub or UberEats were still in business while others scrambled to get setup. Now, with more uncertainty ahead, many are looking at companies like Mobi2go for their own multi-channel delivery app with a goal to have more brand control and deeper connection with customers.

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Who you sell to

Many companies who traditionally relied on internal sales teams or external wholesalers to get products on to shelves are now partially or fully pivoting to digital and direct to consumer (D2C) sales. Companies making this move are aiming to build and maintain a brand connection with their customers in a way that will garner repeat business, ideally increasing margins and lowering the cost of goods sold. 

An example of this is GoPro, who in April let go 20% of its workforce to focus on a complete transition to D2C sales by the end of 2020.

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What you are selling

Other brands have pivoted some or all of their current resources towards a new product line. Whether due to COVID—19 they were seeing major declines to their other products, or saw an opportunity for growth emerging because of it, being able to make small changes to create, build and sell new something brand new opens up a new pocet of revenue generation.

Peace Collective, a Toronto-based fashion label, quickly shifted from making clothes to also selling face masks; this foresight led to the hiring 14 new seamstresses purely to meet sales demands for face masks. Being aware of quick changes to customer needs and where your business adds value can even have a net positive outcome.

Peace Collective: P / C

Advice for SMBs and Start Ups looking to pivot their business this year:

Take the time to identify if you believe changes to who, how or what you are selling is going to lead to the best success. If you aren’t completely sure take a look around your industry and see what other businesses similar to yours are doing. If you’re not in the same market or a direct competitor I’d go as far as picking up the phone and talking to others — you’d be surprised at the willingness around to help one another right now. 

Once you’ve determined your path forward lean in on this first and do it exceptionally well before beginning to explore other areas more intensely.

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