How to Pivot Your Business during COVID-19

Businesses have never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how to pivot your business to overcome these uncertain times.

  1. Start With Your “Why”

    What is your reason for being in business? Do you even want to keep your business running? If so, why? What is it about the business you have that is meeting your passion and your purpose. This question may seem obvious, but pivoting a business is challenging and it takes a lot of work and commitment. If you aren’t clear on your purpose, your business will not survive.

    This exercise is also helpful because it will help you tell the story of why you pivoted the way you did. In many ways, you will be recommitting to your customers and selling to new ones. These people want to connect to you and your company. A story helps you do this.

  2. Shift Your Mindset

    This crisis is, in most ways, is completely out of our control. The businesses who are surviving are the ones who, as quickly as possible, can shift their mindsets into a place of positivity and possibility. The goal is to find the opportunity that exists in this forced new normal. 

    In our experience, the best way to do this is to see how other businesses have adapted. When we see our peers succeed, we also believe we can! Click here to read about Canadian small businesses that have begun to successfully pivot in all kinds of creative ways. Here too!

    Can’t figure out where to begin? Look around at the other businesses in your network, community and industry. Offer to help where you can, and exchange ideas, services and strategies. There is strength in numbers!

  3. Hear Your Customers

    A pivot means you have to serve your customers in a way that you haven’t before. This is not possible if you don’t understand the actual needs of your customers. What are they going through right now? What has changed for them in their homes and lives since this crisis began? What did your product/service make them feel before? Don’t be afraid to ask them exactly what they want from you. 

    Start talking to your customer – what do they need? How has their life changed right now? How could you serve the needs they have now? 

    Focus on helping them through it, and they will want to help your business too. Do not focus on selling existing products, especially if they no longer serve their needs.

  4. Brainstorm Ideas

    Now that you know you want to pivot, take your answers from the steps above and start thinking of as many ideas as possible – sky’s the limit! The goal of this exercise is to be creative, so don’t think about why things won’t – focus on coming up with new ideas.

    Engage your customers, staff, investors, advisors and anyone in your community for their feedback. What do they like? Dislike? What would make it better?

    Some ideas to get you started: 

    • Online courses

    • Delivery of product or curbside pickup

    • Subscriptions/memberships

    • Online events/teaching/programs

    • Coaching/group coaching

    • Online retreats

    • Affiliate sales or commission based deals 

    • Partnerships with other companies or charitable organizations

    • Creating a new product with the equipment that is existing

    • Offering new services with the staff you already have

    • Gift cards 

    • Pre-sales

    • Using online platforms to see customers, sign documents and conduct other “in person” activities

  5. Build a Roadmap

    Once you have your top results, start building out a roadmap of how you can quickly get it to market. This should include the budget required, the manpower required, the timeline to execute and the marketing plan.

    All of these topics can be found in our eBook Your 30-day Roadmap to a Solid Side Hustle.

  6. Market Your Idea

    Your customers should know:

    • What you now offer

    • Where they can get it 

    • How they can purchase from you 

    • Other ways they can support your company

    • Sell on all channels and platforms. Make your social media easy to purchase from. It should not take more than 5 seconds of browsing for them to understand exactly how to purchase something from you today

  7. Some Other Considerations

    Here are a few other things you need to consider along the way:

    • Can you reduce costs and provide an “essentials” version of your usual offering? For example, a restaurant might cut down on the number of menu items to reduce cost of ingredients

    • Can you offer your service in a way that saves your customer money? Many people have lost jobs

    • Can you get some of your most loyal and active customers to commit to being the first customers of your new pivot business?

    • Can you compensate other businesses, customers or partners to sell your new pivot product or service through their communities and channels?

    • Can you set up new partnerships in your community to come together on marketing? For example, an ice cream shop, yoga studio and dog grooming company could come together to offer “local boxes” which are a discounted bundle on all three services to help people support their local small businesses

    • Now that you do your business online, consider advertising more online through Facebook ads and more.

  8. Resources

    Great resources for you: