Did you know that William Wrigley Jr., founder of the popular Wrigley chewing gum brand, originally worked as a soap and baking powder salesman? He pivoted to gum manufacturing when he realized that the free gum he offered with every purchase was more popular than the product he was selling. Over time, your industry, marketplace and customers’ needs are bound to change or evolve. To remain successful, you can’t be afraid to alter your business plans or model, just as Wrigley did.
Pivoting your business is not admitting failure and closing up shop. In fact, a pivot doesn’t always have to mean that you make a complete business overhaul. Instead, it’s about learning what the marketplace wants, and transforming your business or shifting your strategy based on new consumer trends. Wondering if you should pivot? Here are the questions that you should ask yourself.
1. Do I still love what I’m doing?
If you’re not jazzed about your product or service, your customers may not be either. Giving your business a makeover could reignite your passion and reinvigorate your customers’ interest, too.
But before you make any changes, ask yourself why you aren’t excited about your business anymore. Is it because you aren’t meeting your goals? Is it a lack of passion for the industry you’re in? Making a few changes to your processes or improving your work-life balance will be a better solution than pivoting in some cases. Think about why you started your business in the first place. Are you’re still motivated to grow your business, despite falling out of love with your product or service?
If so, pivoting may be the answer.
2. What are the trends in my industry?
Have you noticed that people are buying fewer of the products or services you offer? To keep your business profitable, take a look at what other businesses in your industry are doing.
The retail industry, for example, has changed significantly in the past decade. With the rise of e-commerce and the convenience that a powerhouse company like Amazon offers, many retailers running brick-and-mortar shops have taken a hit.
To compete, these smaller retailers will have to change their approach to sales. For some business, that may mean adding an e-commerce component to their business model. Other businesses may close their physical location and focus entirely on online sales. Still other retailers may choose to take advantage of the Selling on Amazon program that allows businesses to sell their products on Amazon.com. Or others may enhance the quality of their offerings, and reposition themselves as a luxury retailer — with the increased price tag to show for it.
A business the decides to stick with the traditional retail model can still be successful. But it still must take into account what’s happening in the industry, which may mean developing a marketing and promotion strategy that focuses on the benefits of continuing to shop at a brick-and-mortar store.
3. What is my target audience looking for?
A dip in sales doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an issue with the quality of the product or service that you offer. You just may not be packaging those offerings in a way that is attractive to your target audience.
Nearly six in 10 millennials — 57% — have restaurant food delivered so they can watch TV and movies at home. Therefore, a restauranteur that doesn’t offer delivery but is targeting a millennial audience may be turning off potential diners. As mobile ordering apps have come more common, many restaurants have had to partner with companies like Postmates or Uber Eats to reach their younger, tech-savvy audience.
It is up to you to find out what your customers want. You can read industry reports or send out customer surveys to get the information you’re looking for.
Businesses, industries, trends and even customers change over time. Embracing that change is an important part of running a business. Prepare yourself by paying attention to developments that may signal a major shift must be made. Do market research, track your performance and take time to think about how you (and your customers!) feel about the direction of your business. Then take the steps to keep thriving.