I beg forgiveness, Coach John Wooden, for not being a basketball fan! Nevertheless, I did learn what a pivot was from playing one season of basketball as a teenager.
For those of you not familiar, Coach John Wooden is one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. A pivot for you fellow non-basketball enthusiasts is a fundamental skill that all basketball players must master. Pivoting is a technique where the ball-handler firmly plants their foot while rotating around a single spot. Pivoting allows a player to avoid a defensive player once they stop moving forward while dribbling the ball. Once they stop, it keeps them from traveling or double dribbling, which are big no-nos in basketball.
The word “pivoting” is utilized in many contexts as a metaphor for turning on a point like a lever. Likewise, pivoting is used synonymously with turning your business in a different direction. In business pivoting is done to solve a problem, change your market focus, move from a product or a service, or change your business model. Unlike basketball, it can be a defensive or an offensive tactic, and it is a fundamental tool used to keep your company healthy and viable.
Recently many of you have been faced with pivoting your business. With the advent of the Wuhan Virus, the government shut down our economy and implemented restrictions on business operations. These restrictions forced many of you to pivot and rethink your business and your business model. Despite this crisis, many companies were already positioned to work remotely or had already established alternate revenue streams and alternative ways of operating.
Many companies pivoted just-in-time. In our community, companies such as Props Brewery switched to take out orders, selling food stores in bulk, and changing operations to produce hand sanitizer. Our local non-profits canceled golf tournaments and envisioned surprising ways of fundraising using video and picture competitions. The innovation and can-do spirit displayed by our local businesses and our country as a whole were awe-inspiring.
Fundamentally though, why are some companies prepared and others forced to innovate just in time, or worse still, unable to pivot, resulting in them going out of business? I have learned after many years of consulting and running a business myself; it comes down to having a culture of continual transformation as an integral part of their business.
Many of you may have heard of the term: digital transformation. What is digital transformation in simple words?
“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.” – Salesforce.com
This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation. In effect, you are pivoting your business to make your business better. The best companies are in an agile state of continuous incremental change and improvement.
More importantly, even with the speed of market changes, today’s customers demand that you cater to their needs. It is about them, and not you. They have access to ubiquitous amounts of information. They are well informed and infinite choices about where to spend their money. Even if a customer chooses you, you must continually earn the right to keep their business. The #1 Rule in business: Take care of the customer, or somebody else will. Customers are blabby. They will broadcast their satisfaction with your business, both good and bad, to everyone.
Additionally, social media gives customers a platform to spread their message positively or negatively about their experience with your business. You cannot control what they say about your company. Your control starts and ends with their customer experience. Like most customers today, my time and convenience are paramount in my buying decisions. I have a low tolerance for companies who refuse to automate or do things electronically.
Recently, I fired two local companies I do business with because they refused to provide an online means for me to pay my recurring bill. These two companies wanted me to physically come in and sign a paper copy of a credit card recurring agreement. Worse, the paper forms had my credit card information on them, which they keep in a file cabinet. When I questioned this, they gave me some ridiculous excuse about the credit card processor requiring it, fraud, and the cost of having an online system. This type of thinking is dated and obtuse.
My mortgage company allows me to self-serve and set up an auto-payment through a web portal without a signature. I can change that payment at any time, and it electronically stores my credit card information safely and securely using encryption. Maybe an unlocked file cabinet is more secure?
I am now with their local competitors, who allows me to schedule my payments and even my service online through an online portal. They continuously solicit my feedback as a customer and evolve their service. Moreover, if I ever need help, I can always talk to a human being, because they have a 24/7 helpline that can answer my questions. And I can do it from my iPhone while I am watching my daughter play softball.
What says more about your company: Continuously transforming with the market or stagnating in a dated model? If you want to thrive in today’s market or better still survive the next pandemic or recession, you must adopt a transformation culture. Reimagining your business in the digital age is vital to the health and stability of your business. With the continually changing customer desires and macroeconomic conditions, the ability to pivot your business is critical. You cannot sit on your past success; you must continuously evolve. Elite companies adopt a culture of change. Your Chamber wants to see you thrive.