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Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Art of The Pivot

As someone who studied dance for many years, when I hear the word pivot, what comes to mind is a dance move, or rather, a combination of dance moves "Step ball change and pivot turn". (Literally, as soon as I hear the word pivot, my mind immediately hears the dance instructors calling that series of steps out in the dance studio!) For other people, the word pivot brings to mind a Friends episode where they are attempting to bring a couch up the stairs and Ross screams out "Pivot" repeatedly. (I personally am not a Friends fan, but I know about this episode via social media.) What these both have in common though is the actual original definition of the word, to move to another direction while standing in the same spot. And this leads to another definition of pivoting, when a company (usually a start up) decides to go in a different direction when their initial plan didn't work out.

As an entrepreneur in entrepreneur circles, there's been a lot of talk about pivoting in your business, especially because of corona. So many businesses that had sound business plans beforehand had everything turned on its head once the world went haywire with this pandemic. Keeping on going as you had until now can work for some people, but for many people, the usual mode of business doesn't work. Yes, some businesses like Zoom or delivery companies have thrived during this situation, but if your business wasn't online beforehand, it means making a huge adjustment. But even I, some of my business is online (this blog) and I still have people asking me for discounts because of the corona situation, because money is tight for many people, so even online businesses can be affected.

So, I wanted to talk about the pivots that I've seen different people make in their business lives, either because of corona, or because of getting fired and having a hard time finding a new job in this economy. 

But before I wanted to talk about Covid and the effect it has had on people's businesses, I wanted to talk about senior citizens. Many senior citizens who get fired often find that they can't find work because of ageism. Even people who aren't senior citizens get passed over for jobs often because companies are looking for younger people and pass over very qualified professionals. This means that often people who had good jobs their entire adulthood are now jobless. So some people pivot by becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own business (I know someone who started a social media marketing business in her late 50s), which is wonderful because then you don't need to deal with the ageism factor (other than from potential clients, but due to internet work many people don't even know the age of the people they're hiring for jobs). However, some people aren't comfortable building up their own business, or they need the assurety of a regular income, so some people pivot in their career by instead switching to work for a place that specifically hires older folk, such as Seniors for Seniors https://spectrumhealthcare.com/services/seniors-for-seniors/.

When it comes to corona pivots, there's different factors involved. You need something that doesn't rely on tourists, that isn't in a closed group, ideally that can be done long distance. The most basic pivot that many businesses did was going online. Many brick and mortar stores that never would have thought of switching to internet stores did so- locally the government gave assistance to businesses to make that change. My local discount grocery store started having an online part which was very convenient when I was in quarantine and needed groceries.

Another kind of pivot I've seen friends do is the following. Friends who had service businesses, involving crafting of various types, such as paint parties, or ceramic painting places, or tie dying activities, instead of making such activities in person, made individualized craft packages delivered to people's homes, either with or without online instructions via events over Zoom.

Friends of mine who work with tourists have been some of the hardest hit, with tourism revenue all but dried up. As someone who often teaches foraging classes, aimed at tourissts or frugal people, either in large groups of people, or in private classes, this was something that I know very well. I tried switching my foraging classes to private classes to ensure social distancing, but this didn't really take off, unfortunately, because my private classes were mainly what tourists wanted, and we don't have that now. Some tour guides I know started making videos of tourist sites to show tourists, to give a virtual tour, for people to have the feel of visiting these new places, even if actually going to visit is out now.

Because my foraging classes haven't really been an option, I tried a different pivot. I noticed that people who were home all the time, often with their kids, often working full time while trying to juggle their family obligations, were very stressed out, and wanted to do things to ease their burden such as buying takeout food. I noticed that there weren't many options for takeout where I lived (only pizza). For years I dreamed about opening a restaurant, but it wasn't the right time or circumstances. Every time almost that I'd share a dish I made on Facebook, some locals would ask when I was opening my restaurant, and those comments got me thinking about a pivot- maybe I could start doing takeout. I started small, and decided to go with cuisines I especially enjoyed and would bring the most bang for their buck, and started doing Asian takeout (mostly Korean) as well as Mexican, with a lot of gluten free options. It was an awesome pivot and I saw a lot of interest, and I would have continued if my thyroid didn't start acting up and making me too exhausted too move. I do want to go back to this once I start feeling better hopefully. 

There is no right or wrong way to pivot. Or rather, the only wrong way to pivot is to not pivot. If you are doing something and it's working for you, great, keep at it. But if you see that your business (or even your life direction) isn't working for you because of the current situation, you use your creativity and try to figure out a new direction to go in, that uses your skill set, while keeping your ear to the ground as to what people are looking for and trying to fill that need. Not every pivot will work. And that's fine. Then you pivot again, and again, until you find what works for you, your life, and your clients. 

Have you had to pivot in your career? What type of pivot was it, and what necessitated it? How did the pivoting go for you?

2 comments:

  1. Great topic! As a stay-at-home mom I have had to pivot as well, in order to accommodate my family being home during the day instead of at the office and at school. While it hasn't affected our income too much, Covid-19 has definitely caused us all to need to pivot! Thanks for such a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful advice.
    A friend who has owned a large restaurant for years is now marketing her hobby. She sells her gorgeous pottery filled with flowers or plants to customers. I'm very proud of her.

    ReplyDelete

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