I was out for a small group run this Saturday morning when a friend of mine mentioned one of my recent blog posts, Growing a Business is No Way to Make Money. My breath was taken away. Mostly because of the running and needing to get in better shape, but also that he actually saw it posted and read it. He’s not in the IT industry, but a 20+ year business owner, nonetheless.
We got into an interesting discussion about his own business and how the article didn’t really apply to him personally, though he could see the point. His business is one with a foot in the private sector and one in the government sector. I’m glad he was telling me this story, because its a lot easier to listen while running, than talk. I learned that when his business was growing, some government initiatives changed, infusing his industry with money and attention. Lucky guy right?
I say, not so. I hate the word luck. It removes personal responsibility and accountability from the things that are happening. First off, he was doing fine as a smaller business. I hope you can say the same, because it is the essential starting point to growth. Secondly, his business was fairly process driven. He knew what it took to onboard a new team member, a new client, and to serve them. It was clear what it would take to grow. Lastly, he nailed the pivot.
When the winds were changing, his business was poised to take advantage of the change. They met internally, figured out what it would take to monopolize on it, and executed it, providing a major growth spurt to his business. Likewise, when the winds changed in the opposite direction, they were prepared to pivot again.
For your business, when things are changing (and they frequently are in IT), are you prepared to pivot? I’ve seen enough different approaches to the current climate of COVID and now riots to say I’ve seen the gamut from impact to response among our clients.
For COVID, there were some great responses, from quick changes to service departments to deal with the glut of work-from-home tickets, to great new work-from-home marketing strategies. I’m seeing conversations now looking for what prospects are going to value in the months ahead as we adapt to current events. A few clients, took this opportunity to change how their service delivery was set up, to be leaner, cleaner, and meaner. And yet another took the leap to implement an Account Management program so their clients could get more face-time and care while those clients are also navigating this new climate.
These businesses saw change and decided to pivot, to the success of their business. Beware of stubborness! Now, conversely (see Duality about my habit of seeing both sides), there is the opposite strategy that can work in certain scenarios, standing firm.
As entrepreneurs, we gravitate toward the new and shiny. This frequently causes a pivot that does not serve our interest. Like a basketball player, if we pivoted every time, we would become predictable and easy to block. What’s actually happening in the basketball player’s mind is s/he is observing the court and making a decision at every point to pivot or stand firm based on data (What s/he sees) and intuition (what s/he expects to happen based on that data).
Standing firm gives you the advantage of focus (see Focus on Priorities and Focused or Balanced). There are times where a pivot can be a distraction and take you off of your path. Perhaps a pivot toward the sports photographer in the middle of the run-up to a dunk. While that example seems a bit obvious, no one can tell you when it’s a right or wrong time to pivot or stand firm, as only your results can tell. If the economy is pivoting, consider pivoting. If your business is doing great, and there is an event that you see as blip, perhaps this is the time to stand firm. I should note, standing firm is not just letting things stay the same. it’s a resolution to plant your firm and remain confident in your current place.
Our own firm, when evaluating how to react to current events, decided on a minor pivot while mostly standing firm. We reallocated our marketing efforts to more remote-focused activities. Yet, everything else stayed firmly planted where it was. Not that we didn’t change, but we got even MORE firm in doing what we are doing. Where we right? I’ll let you know in a year.
Do what’s best for you, just be prepared to quickly decide when to pivot and when to stand firm. I’d love to hear from you about times you’ve pivoted or decided to stand firm. Feel free to comment below or book a free consultation. We are both bound to learn something!