Snap lockdowns, minimum wage increases, and changing social norms, like cancel culture, are just some developments forcing businesses to navigate a volatile landscape where anything can happen – and that means being prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice.

Letting people go, restructuring, moving online or completely revising target markets are just some of the moves businesses have had to make to survive in a continually changing world. Yet, unfortunately, most customers don’t like change – they thrive on the familiar.

One risk that companies take when pivoting or diversifying is the potential loss of clients.

Nana Ageymang – the founder of EveryStylishGirl, a space that empowers women of colour to chase non-traditional career paths – took such a risk in pivoting her business last year.

Instead of using the normal e-commerce channels, she put all her eggs in the social media basket. Ageymang took her business exclusively onto the social media platform Instagram and continues to handle all marketing and business communications through that channel (and email).

Confining yourself to one channel is a bold move to make, considering that a large demographic of people don’t use social media.

When making a pivot, be prepared to lose some to get some.

Ageymang took the risk, and now she is a self-proclaimed social media evangelist, determined to convert “old schoolers” to social media for business.

One step at a time

One step at a time may seem obvious, but it’s essential when dealing with people because a business is only as strong as its customers, and drastic change could lose you customers.

People say that familiarity breeds contempt, but when it comes to businesses and change, familiarity breeds trust. Good pivots happen one step at a time.

Stay competitive

Comparing yourself with a business similar to yours is one way to pivot and or diversify successfully. Even the slightest tweak in an already concrete business plan can mean the difference between 1 million dollars per annum and $5 million per annum.

Take the example of Jim’s suite brand, which sends out suit bags with every order of a full suit. Your business can go one better. Send out suit bags and suede hangers for the suits to protect the material, thereby putting the suit bags in the customer’s wardrobe for just a small extra cost. \

It may cost you some money, but the risk is low. You are just adding to something that is already successful, and it doesn’t throw people off or turn people away. If anything, it elevates your business.

Tone, tone, tone

Talking about the importance of tone when in the process of pivoting, Carmine Mastropierro – content strategist at Morphio – points out that, “It’s not what you meant; it’s how you said it”.

Customers and clientele are far more inclined to be patient and gracious during the pivoting process when the way you present yourself to them is also warm. Your customers will be impacted when you pivot and or diversify, be sure to take them on the journey with you.

Pivoting and or diversifying is necessary but not necessarily easy. Be patient, take it slow with your people, keep a sense of familiarity and be gracious with them. Change is never easy.

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