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How to respond to the threat of COVID-19: to pivot or not to pivot?

During the difficult times of the coronavirus, it can be hard for businesses to make a strategy for their survival. As a business, do you choose to suffer through these times, or do you take arms against them and see to end them? In other words, do you pivot or try to ride things out?

According to a recent blog post by Incrementa to begin answering this question you should look at whether this is a temporary pivot, such as offering more digital offerings instead of face-to-face or a more disruptive change to the business for long term.

Here are the tips Incrementa recommend to get you through the crisis:

Understand the external forces for change

Businesses operate during a changing market all the time, not just with the coronavirus but also through other situations, for example during the Brexit discussions and recessions etc. The last thing you want to do is pivot the business towards another threat. You can review the forces behind the necessity to change using the PESTLE model – political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental.

The last external force to consider is competitors. The industry we work in is dynamic – competitors come and go. Each time potentially offering a new threat to your business. Add to that the potential threat of substitution – i.e. the need for your product or service being substituted by newer products or services.  Before you potentially pivot lookout for competitor movements and the threat of substitutes.

Understand where problems lie internally.

The next way to look at this is to review your business model.  Put simply:

  • What do you sell?
  • To whom do you sell it?
  • How do your products/services create value for your customers?
  • How do you make money from your product/services?

Once you have answered these four fundamental questions we can then try and identify the root of the problem.  Have your customers’ needs changed so your products or services no longer create value for them?  Have your customers changed so maybe you are targeting the wrong customers now?  Does the way that you are charging for your products/services need updating based on conditions outside of your control?

By understanding this you can create a platform for a potential pivot.  Change the part of the model that’s not working without making fundamental changes to the whole of the business.

So, what can you do if you have decided to pivot?

The simple solution is to experiment and test.  Pay attention to the needs of your customers and run potential changes past them.  There are lots and lots of ways testing potential pivots, all of which will provide vital information in assessing whether you are pivoting in the right direction.

We also caught up with Stuart Hartley, MD of Incrementa and asked him what his advice would be for start-ups during this time: “This crisis is temporary. Sit tight, reduce costs and look for a temporary pivot to bring money in”.

Incrementa has a significant track record in delivering small business growth services to pre-start and growing businesses. The team of consultants at Incrementa have helped to start over 1000 new businesses and have assisted over 250 existing businesses from a variety of sectors to grow and develop.

More on these topics

Covid-19 / Start ups

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