Plan B: The Pivot

By now you have reviewed your 2013 numbers and you know how you feel about the results.  If your revenue has been less than stellar for two or more consecutive years,   it’s time to think seriously about how to respond more effectively to the business environment that you face.  You need to create a Plan B and pivot.

Or maybe your numbers were more than respectable,  but because you are a savvy business person you know to look three years down the road and follow the advice of hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky and skate not to where the puck has been,  but to where it’s going to be.  Scanning the horizon for potentially lucrative opportunities and a pivot is always a good idea for those in business.

To pivot is to tweak your business model in response to current or impending business conditions,  good or bad.  To increase the chance that you will successfully tweak your business model and pull off a good pivot,  planning is imperative.  Market research and reality  (i.e. market)  testing of what you think will work form the basis of your pivot plan.  Start with an analysis of which clients hired you and the projects you were asked to do.  Your successful pivot could entail expanding your outreach to those clients.  What other services can you provide to them and how might you persuade them to upgrade what they hired you to do previously? Also,  how can you obtain repeat business this year,  so that you can introduce the upgrade?

Conduct some informal market research and develop a pivot strategy.   You might get clues about which of your products and services clients value most,  services you might expand and upgrade,  or additional services you can develop and sell by reading blogs and newsletters followed by those in the industries that hire you.   Invite a favorite client out to lunch or coffee and ask about organizational initiatives or industry hot buttons.   I think you can afford to be frank and let the client know that you enjoy working with him/her and that you wonder how else you might be of service.   Don’t be shy! You need information to set up a marketing test so that you can identify the Plan B to pivot into,  along with a marketing message to announce and sell it.

Alan Spoon,  general partner at the Boston office of Polaris Venture Partners,  recommends that you closely study your customers’ broader behaviors around the use of your products and services.  Your research should help you address these questions:

  • What do I do that is perceived by clients as distinctly valuable and could potentially be extended to other client needs?
  •  Are there products and services that can have an ongoing use and thus extend billing beyond the initial project?

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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