The Real Way To Pivot During a Pandemic (It’s Not How You Think)

Every morning I’ve been enjoying our backyard, my coffee, a fire, and a little reading.

Yesterday I was reading a book that was talking about reinvention.

It said, “What you build today will either empower you or restrict you tomorrow. It will either serve as a platform for the next level of success or as a box trapping you where you are.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked over and over again how I’m pivoting.

Everyone is pivoting, everyone is talking about pivoting, and rightfully so. I’ve advised clients to use this time to put the things into place they’ve been putting off for years.

Look at how many businesses finally selling in an online environment, or creating videos, or live-streaming.

But something about that line I couldn’t shake.

In fact, it reminded me of the worst business advice in the world which is “It’s 10X more valuable to keep a customer than it is to get a new one.”

It’s the worst business advice in the world because nobody who says it tells you what to do next like “How do I make the existing customer 10X more profitable?”

Pivoting and everything else seems easy except when you’re in a capital crunch, your customers are shutting down because their customers aren’t buying, and you’re having to furlough staff just to keep the lights on.

Jack Welch used to say something similar. He loved to say something like this…

“Anybody can lose money today and promise future growth… And anybody can cut costs to show a short term profit at the expense of the company next year. But real leadership is finding a way to do both, to save money short term without sacrificing long-term growth."

He was right. And therein lies the secret to pivoting during a pandemic.

Here’s how to start. In fact, there are are two concrete steps you can take right now.

1. Find the areas of inefficiency in your company, and ruthlessly kill them.  Right now.

For most companies, the best way to do this is to ensure that you've got a rock-solid sales process in place (to reduce the number of leads you squander away, or the quotes you don’t follow-up on), and airtight sales management (to make sure that the process is always followed, and expanded to continue to get better).

2. Invest the extra revenue from those ventures, and the time saved from your people who are no longer scrambling, into higher-value work, and new service offerings. Right now.

Pivoting is strategic. It’s not just saying, “Hey look, we now offer curbside pickup!”

The real magic lies in two tips above. Now is the time to find the inefficiencies, kill them off, and invest in the things you need to improve now to be a better, stronger company later.