The corona virus pandemic has brought about a global lockdown, during this time one of the biggest things that I and other entrepreneurs/ coaches/mentors have been banging on about is the all-important ‘pivot’, but what does it really mean for real life entrepreneurs?
ACT – Action Changes Things sign
A pivot is by definition the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates. In business a pivot usually occurs when the business is required to make a fundamental change if their product or service isn’t meeting the demands of the market. One could refer to it as a course correction, a strategic move to encourage growth – others might call it ‘plan B’. During this pandemic and lockdown, many businesses are facing a time of economic uncertainty and it has forced their arm in some part to take the steps necessary to stay above water. The difference being the pivots widely discussed in the start up world are often a long term solution, whereas this current crisis might call for a temporary pivot (although some may find the pivot is actually a successful change).
I think it is easy to talk about the importance of pivoting or being adaptable during a crisis but for many they want to understand how to substantiate the theory and utilise it to maintain or progress their business. To which end, I asked some of my mentoring community; a group of successful and budding entrepreneurs how they have pivoted or what they have implemented to stay ahead. I am sharing it with you in the hope that it inspires you to think about the pivots you can make in your industry, small business or business idea. Regardless of the industry or business types listed below, we can all learn how to change our business for the better with these examples:
1. Greeting Cards: For me, it’s been about pivoting to digital! We typically provide physical greeting cards, notebooks and planners, but the current pandemic has brought an opportunity to create digital products which can be sent electronically. Same functionality but less cost to us and the consumer – it’s a win win. Georgina Fihosy, AfroTouch Design
2. Natural Beauty Products: The Covid crisis have been a positive for the brand we have seen our online sale grown by over 49% . We supported this natural growth by increasing our online paid marketing running three different advert simultaneously, we also set up a Google shop, which increased our online presence/sales another 15%. We also changed some of our practices in order to keep up with our online sales increase for example signing up with Royal Mail click and drop, this made it much easier and quicker in getting orders out to customers. Sandra Brown-Pinnock Founder Primal Beauty Natural
3. Technology Innovation: During this period, as a serial founder, I wondered how I could help my 17 year old daughter who has finished all her coursework and exams and is waiting to start university.I decided to develop an online business with her, which would teach the key skills of project management, marketing and sales, and teach me increased patience. Together with a friend of hers, we wondered how we could help people who have several social media links, websites and contact details, connect easily with others. We also wanted to provide more features than our competitors, at a great price. At the start of May we launched a link page service, which allows people to share one link rather than say 6 or 7. I hope it will provide her with the additional pocket money that she needs, yet I know the skills she is learning are invaluable. Dionne Jude, Dejai Jope and TJ White founders of One Link
4. Hair Salon: Due to the ‘stay home’ lockdown restrictions, I had to pivot my business from my salon to my home. I took a service I already provided such as customising human hair wigs to now offering a wig and weft laundry service. This service will help bring back to life any wigs and hair extensions that need a bit more TLC with a deep clean, as many clients are not aware of how to do this correctly. Top tip would be to try and expand on a service that you already have, think of other ways to deliver what your client needs with the same products you are offering. Monica Frempong founder of Hair 2 The Throne
5. Cosmetics Brand: As my salon was closed during the lockdown, I was able to focus more of my attention on Winnie Beau London Cosmetics. Due to lockdown, actual time and effort has made it start to get noticed worldwide. Sales up over 1000% in first 4 weeks of lockdown. Shipped Italy, Paris, Germany, Canada, USA. This lead to me recruiting an intern to help carry this on when we return to work. God is good! – Hannah Curlita Dennis
6. Coaching : After myself having to shut the office and stop face to face sessions I see many other businesses in the same situation and I began to offer zoom sessions and online courses for entrepreneurs and other business owners teaching them to be proactive and not just reactive during this time, opening their eyes to new opportunities and helping them think outside the box and makes things happen. I am also offering FREE coaching sessions to all NHS key workers giving them all the tools needed for themselves and their patients to get through this tough time with a more positive mindset. Michael Cloonan The People’s Coach
7. Start Up Shoe Brand: Mokkah is an affordable luxury footwear brand for women who wear larger sizes (UK8-12).Covid-19 has delayed the retrieval of my samples and consequently, our entrance to the market however lockdown has reminded me not to put all my eggs in one basket. Working with overseas manufacturers definitely has its benefits but my pivot to now considering a small factory in the UK has meant I can spread the risk, even as a startup. Sherene Headley, founder of Mokkah
8. Bespoke Fashion: As a bespoke evening-wear brand, we were not able to meet customers face to face due to social distancing. We decided to move our brand online to offer cosy loungewear sets & matching face masks. Our wonderful customers can now treat themselves to something comfortable & stylish to lounge in.- Corrine Willis CEO of C W Couture
9. Interior Design Consultancy: Due to a proportion of the population being furloughed or made redundant, I have decided to offer free virtual interior design consultations to anyone who needs help with their homes, from picking accessories or furniture, to advice on colour schemes and space planning. This new and more flexible way of working has allowed me to help clients that I would not normally reach while still ensuring that I remain booked and busy during this difficult time.It also means that once the lockdown is over, those who enjoyed working with me will be able to engage my services in person. Katherine Christopher- Katherine’s Interiors
10. Wedding Celebrant: As a ‘celebrant’ I am usually in charge of conducting the marriage ceremony but in normal life with most engaged couples generally only seeing each other in line with their daily lives’ lockdown has brought about a major change. Couples are now together 24/7 which could put a strain on relationships. I have pivoted to offer pre-marriage coaching to my clients which could help them get through these unprecedented times. Jennifer Patrice – Celebrant
11. Property/ Care Industry: Make use of funding/ grant opportunities, Place of Progress launched a £4,000 crowdfund (supported by Natwest Back Her Business) to be able to offer in-house specialist interventions to the young people they support. The impact of Covid-19 has meant that many external services are not offering the support that is needed to the most vulnerable groups. The crowdfund which achieved £4,849 has enabled them to employ their own in-house therapists and mentors, ensuring that their young people are not any more adversely impacted by Covid-19. -Bianca Andrew, Place of Progress – semi independent accommodation for Care leavers
12. Coaching Industry Tip: Think big, think differently, and learn how to use social media and online systems effectively to remain relevant in business. My biggest pivot; before I would never use zoom but now, I use it for my 121 coaching clients, groups sessions with women survivors and young people supporting them in keeping safe. We even do Art sessions and it’s great. Face the fear of technology and just do it, remembering that the big picture is sustainability! Maureen Bailey, Inner Strength Network
13. Fashion : Whilst Covid19 may have delayed my fashion brand to “work in progress”, it has encouraged me to document female lead conversations on how this experience has personally affected them in different aspects of their life titled ” She Bares…All”. – Janine Harvey | She Bares
14. Jewellery Brand : ByGraceAmbrose makes unashamedly bold, bright and playful statement pieces to celebrate and empower the everyday women impacting the world in her own special way. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic ByGraceAmbrose has introduced live crafting classes onto their Instagram page, which are intended to be educational, interactive and therapeutic, so that participants can learn a new skill, meet new people and try to relax. These ByGraceAmbrose crafting sessions were initially scheduled for a later date, but have been brought forward to offer a creative outlet that promotes creativity and togetherness during these unprecedented times. Join the ByGraceAmbrose crafting classes starting on Friday 22nd at 7pm on Instagram Live
15. Retail Brand:. I started a crowdfund just before the Covid 19 lockdown, following its success I will be able to give back via my platform by supporting small childrenswear brands. The lockdown hasn’t stopped the business but it has changed my focus for the brands I want on the site. Carlene Phillips, CEO of Kids Life Clothing
16. Graphic Design: I have identified opportunities to improve efficiencies and implement key cognitive design strategies needed to facilitate our customers desired growth. I have utilized an effective combination of attractive discounts for a limited time and made use of tiered pricing to generate sales leads into happy, recurring customers. Cameron Mordi-Semple Nova GFX
17. New Skincare Brand: In the beginning of March, I decided to take what started off 5 years ago as an ongoing kitchen project of making body butters and scrubs, and start my business, ZeeZee Flair. Great timing? Well, since then, I’ve had inventory go missing on its way from South-East Asia, rework how I want events to take place and have had to revise the suppliers I work with, now all based in the UK. Apart from some of the raw material used that have come from as far as Africa and South America, ZeeZee Flair is now proudly British and its creations lovingly whipped in London. It is a pivot I welcome – Wunmi Lawanson-ZeeZeeFlair
18. Jewellery Brand : I added bold & bright statement jewellery to my collection to encourage women to be bold during this challenging time when their confidence has been knocked by the effects that COVID-19 has had on their lives, the world and the economy. My focus was on building the ultimate ‘zoom’ jewellery collection! Pamela Adeyeba, Founder, Unveiling Pearls Jewellery
19. Greeting Cards: Wild Cinnamon Cards, relatable greeting cards that represent Black minorities, has seen an increase in online sales since the enforcement of lockdown. I wanted to encourage people to see the good in the current situation and pivoted my business by designing a new range of quarantine / lockdown cards, which included specifically designed appreciation cards that represent Black Healthcare workers who are usually under-represented. I also offered a personalised message service which was quickly introduced by sending the card directly to the receiver. Halicia Ward, Founder of small business Wild Cinnamon Cards
20. Child Therapist: I am Kemi Omijeh, a MBACP registered Therapist, typically working on an individual basis with children, teens and their families to support with any mental health difficulties. Due to Covid I have been able to expand my service to the provision of a well-being activity pack that empowers parents in supporting their children’s mental health. I have also developed an online training for school staff to help them in supporting their pupils mental health needs.
21. Nanny Services: I am Shada Lambert an International Nanny, Sleep and Potty Training Consultant and Parent Coach. I have over 18+ years experience in the childcare industry. Due to COVID19 I can no longer offer in house services with multiple families. This change has lead me to pivot my business from in-house to phone and online services. I now offers virtual nanny sessions, coaching and consultations online or via the phone.
22. Property: My business, ML Property Ventures’ primary focus is to find properties that meet our investors requirements. The way we pivoted, was instead of physically viewing every single property to put an offer in, we concluded our research and calculations via pictures, and property portals. We also changed 2 hour intro meetings over coffee & cake with new investors to 20 minute video calls. As a small business, it’s important to look for stream-lined ways of doing things and not just to follow what you’ve always done.- Melissa Lewis, Founder & CEO-ML Property Venture
23. Fashion Start Up : Having a new business in the fashion industry during a pandemic means you have to pivot early and quickly. Three key things I have prioritised during lockdown: Building the community. Now is the time for high engagement online with your audience. Partnerships. List potential partnerships and reach out. Again, many are working from home and more open to reading your email and having a Zoom call. Funding. My biggest pivot was moving forward with my crowdfunding project. This has been monumental for getting the customer loyalty from the very beginning and demonstrating the brand has ‘legs’ to not only withstand a pandemic, but is a brand that evidences demand. Kayleigh Benoit Bind London
24. Events & Technology: PlugMyBrand.net is set up to provide businesses and individuals an opportunity to showcase their products, services or talent on a global level. Due to the global pandemic Our yearly event scheduled to take place in April 2020, was unfortunately postponed due to Covid-19. From research we found that most of our potential clients did not have an online presence or were looking for a way to rebrand themselves. We are now tackling both issues, firstly by the release of our online series, titled My Brand, My Story. Secondly, by developing a rebranding and online presence service. Nathan Dupigny -Plug My Brand
25. Music & Wellbeing: Come As You Are Enterprise is a music hub that educates, entertains and empowers. Pivot – As a result of Covid -19 DJ out the box is an expansion of CAYA Streamlined to focus on wellbeing and music for the Corporate World. The bitesize DJ elevation sets will help employees & business’ enjoy a creative outlet throughout their working day, thus boosting productivity outcomes for everyone.-Thali Lotus MSc Come As You Are Enterprise – CAYA
26. Financial Education: Young Spender offers financial education to under 25’s. During a time where how we spend matters most, the pandemic encourages us to start in order to ensure financial education is available, engaging and easy to understand. We aim to equip the younger generation with the financial skills they will need for the future.-Nikkita Tew founder of Young Spender
27. Virtual Assistant Services : COVID 19 has enabled me to use this extra free time to start my business as Virtual Assistant. I saw a great opportunity to help Business Owners and Entrepreneurs who were beginning to pivot their business strategies and models to online platforms. Using my experience as an EA I am able to help with general day to day admin, along building and implementing Customer Relationship Management automation systems as well as offering Social Media packages to increase their online presence and awareness of their business or brand. Amanda Bailey Amanda Bailey EVA
28. Lingerie Brand: My business ‘Natalie Joseph Lingerie’ launch has been delayed by the quarantine and pushed back to late 2020. This global pandemic has encouraged me to be more personalised in the way in which I communicate to my audience to better support them. I’ve capitalised on zoom and Instagram’s video calls and voice notes for carrying out more bra fitting advice. I have utilised social media platforms to gain consumer insight, build authority in my field, raise your profile and have topical discussions.-Natalie Joseph. Founder of Natalie Joseph Lingerie
29. Self Development and Coaching: We provide group coaching and one to one coaching programmes for entrepreneurs, business professionals, startups, sales teams and 10-25 year olds. We have taken all of our group coaching and one to one coaching sessions online. We have also created additional sessions to support young people and their parents, those who have been Furloughed or made redundant during the Covid lockdown. Ademola Adeyeba, CEO & Founder, Get Hench
30. Childcare Industry: There have been lots of educational and entertainment companies popping up, offering ‘live’ time killing sessions for early years children and parents. Our focus however, is on the continuous development of children and using every minute to add value to their lives. Not just during lockdown but also post Covid-19. We are working to provide holistic support for the personal, social and emotional needs of children including those with delicate and complex requirements.’ A Plus Fun Ltd t/a Kids Konnect Maudette Uzoh
31. Skincare Salon: I’m Busi, a skin specialist and founder of Second Skin Therapy, a skin clinic where I specialise in results-based treatments for all skin types and tones. Given that my business involves close contact and touch therapies, the lockdown presented a challenge as to how to continue to care for and support my clients on their skincare journeys. I’ve since launched virtual consultations as a way to stay connected to them, and to support them remotely. This has proven to be very popular – I’ve widened my reach and been able to grow my business by attracting new clients from as far away as Italy, Nigeria and Uganda! This extension of my business has been so useful and will remain a permanent feature.
32. Sickle Cell Community: My Friend Jen is an award winning children’s book series about sickle cell. Our usual focus is on raising awareness and educating people who may not know about the condition. However, since the lockdown we have shifted our strategy to focus specifically on our sickle cell community. Because the condition falls in the high risk group, many of the community are having to shield for 12 weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, so we decided to launch a community blog space for people living with or affected by sickle cell to share their stories. We realised that creating this space would benefit a lot of people; no to mention the therapeutic side of writing which we hope will help a lot of people to get through this difficult time. Jenica Leah – My Friend Jen
33. Legal Industry:, Strand Sahara provides legal support to Africa-focused businesses, as the world went into lockdown, I spotted an opportunity to create an online program for aspiring and established entrepreneurs who wish to use this time to start a business in Africa. The launch of the new program, Live Your African Dream, has attracted people from all over the world and led to a 500% increase in enquiries for Strand Sahara’s legal services. Rashida Abdulai founder of Strand Sahara
34. Hair Stylist: I am Tabs Francis a professional award nominated finalist hairstylist specialising in Afro hair. Off course my job is usually very hands on with my clients, during this pandemic I had to think of ways to be able to best serve my client’s and reach other’s so nobody felt abandoned. I knew this was a crucial time for many women with Afro hair who are so used to relying on a stylist for their weaves plaits or just simple wash and finish. Many have not had to deal with their own hair in years nor knew what to do with it. So I now offer an online consultation service via zoom and group sessions with hair management and product advice. This has led me to push my Mobile hairdressing academy further to cater to salons and individuals. LMA hair academy (Loving my Afro hair).
35. Make Up Brand: I own a premium cosmetics brand called ColorBlend Makeup and as we currently can’t attend any beauty or trade shows, I have been offering 1-2-1 personalised makeup sessions on Zoom instead for those wanting to learn or improve their makeup techniques. This pivot means we will also be launching new eye and brow products in the coming weeks – perfect for consistent mask wearing. I still want everyone looking good for their Zoom meetings and to step out of lockdown feeling more confident too! Kesha Williams CEO & Founder ColorBlend Makeup
36. Mental Health: As a poet and thought leader, I have been reaching out to other experts and influencers in this field of business for IG Live collaborations to grow my audience, bring value to my audience and foster new meaningful relationships with people . This led to the development of The SEED Project; a wellness and mental health programme to encourage the practice of healthy habits during and post COVID-19 through interactive self-care games, discussions and activities. Tene Edwards Author of Walk With Wings and Co-Founder of The SEED Project
Yes, things have changed considerably beyond most of our recognition but as a business there is opportunity to adapt, to pivot and to try something new, as Winston Churchill once said ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’.