Event Recap: Pivot Your Business Roundtable with Karen Baker

What if you could make more money doing the same work you do now, but with a couple of simple tweaks?

That’s exactly what Karen Baker, a business coach with 25 years of experience under her belt, recommended during our June virtual meeting when she led a roundtable discussion on how to pivot your business in these difficult times.

A big believer in building on existing success, Baker suggests looking at what you already do brilliantly and finding ways to deliver that with more pleasure and ease, while making more money. She encouraged us to get creative in how we look at our skills and services.

The pivot is a time-honored way of changing product, target market, direction or delivery to fulfill an opportunity you see.  It takes advantage of leverage, demand and innovation to create something new for customers and business owners.

The most common problem is that most entrepreneurs know how to work IN the business, but not how to work ON the business. We are so focused on serving our clients’ needs, we forget about our own business needs.

“Your business is like a car—it’s the vehicle that will take you where you want to go,” Baker said. “Just as there are hundreds of parts in your car that need to be maintained, there are a hundred systems in your business that need to be maintained. So, ask yourself, what needs attention?”

 

Small Changes for Biggest Impact

Pivoting does not mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, find one or two small changes that will influence the effectiveness of your business. Marketing and sales are the most common places to start. Just don’t forget to test and measure. If you make a change and never assess whether it worked, you won’t know if you should keep the change or do something else.

Baker outlined six pillars to an effective pivot strategy:

  • Your products and services
  • Teams, connections and strategic partners
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Brand recognition and reputation
  • Your vision, ideals and values
  • Planning

 

1. Your products and services

Start by asking yourself, what do your customers need right now? What’s different from what they’ve needed in the past? Maybe some of their businesses are opening again for the first time in months. Maybe some have been open all along and have more business than they can handle.

Next, think about how your products or services can meet those needs. Rather than trying to create something new from scratch, start with what you already have in place.

How can you pivot or slightly change your products or services? Someone who has a business creating content for travel programs could leverage their social media knowledge and skills to become a consultant that helps companies improve their digital marketing and communications across a variety of social platforms. It’s about creating a new strategy for increasing your income.

“Shift away from whatever is not generating revenue and focus on increasing the speed of the thing that is already creating income,” Baker said. “You’re taking something that you’re already doing and just thinking about it differently.”

 

2. Teams, connections and strategic partners

Look for ways to leverage the people you work with, your network and your strategic partners. If you work with a team of people, ask them to reach out to their network for referrals. Your connections are one of your biggest assets as a freelancer. Think about how you can make better use of or expand your network.

A strategic partner is someone who serves the same market as you, but who has a different offering. They call on the same businesses, but they offer different services. This presents a marketing opportunity and another source of leads. How can you trade referrals or do joint marketing?

“As women, we define ourselves through our connections and relationships,” Baker said. “Ask yourself: how can you make money with your friends?”

 

3. Vendors and suppliers

Sometimes our vendors and suppliers can be a good source of referrals. What vendors do you use for your business? Where do you shop for supplies? Speak to the manager and find out if there is a way to gain referrals from them.

 

4. Build on your brand recognition and reputation

Use what you have in terms of brand recognition and reputation. What is one step you can take to build on your brand? Make the most of your social media channels, such as LinkedIn, to raise your profile by writing articles and posting about relevant topics. Create a social media calendar and commit to a publishing schedule. Use these thought leadership pieces to help position yourself as a trusted expert in your field. Look for speaking opportunities and create a speaker’s sheet that lists your accomplishments and topics of interest.

 

5. Who you are, your vision, ideals, values?

What you are known for when you don’t have your professional hat on is a great place to pivot from. Maybe you have a passion for social justice, women’s issues, children’s welfare or the environment. Find organizations that serve these causes and need your expertise.

 

6. Planning

Finally, make a plan and write it down. People who set aside time to work on their businesses are able to pivot faster. Anxiety grows when there is no plan. Having a plan gives you action. Take it one quarter at a time. Set a maximum of five goals and break them down so that you know what tasks you need to accomplish each week. Know your targets so you can measure your success.

Being in a dynamic marketplace, you can’t let it change without you yourself changing.

 

 

 

Kara Myers

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