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Poised to Pivot


~by Heather Strohm

Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University


Regardless of what industry you are in, the prevailing question now is: How can your company survive the COVID-19 “new normal” we are all operating in? As an individual who has supported and assisted business owners for a couple of decades, I find it is so important to stay in touch with what a company needs during times of economic turbulence and chaos. Often, business models must be adjusted, new skills must be learned, and pain points must be explored—in order for continued growth and development to occur. Regardless of how and when a company makes changes, it must pivot in order to grow and maintain resilience within its community.

What does it mean to “pivot” as a company or a small- to medium-sized business? Here are some strategies that will help you be poised to pivot:

  1. Understand Your Target Market: One key consideration to a successful pivot is understanding your core demographic and adjusting your product or service to cater specially to them. For example, Spotify and Netflix. Both large companies and for the point of this example are perfect since everyone knows of each of them. They are able to identify music or film-viewing preferences from your previous shows or likes. This generates customized playlists for the user. These pivot points help each company to garner market share.
  2. Adjust Products and Services: Each company must adjust and modernize products and services regularly to stay competitive in the marketplace. Be innovative! Now is truly no different than pre-COVID-19 in this respect: A company cannot become complacent if they are to survive. Consumers are adjusting their tastes, needs, preferences; therefore, companies must understand what their customers need and how to fill that need in order to remain successful.
  3. Move to Online Sales: You can buy anything online—even furniture or an automobile. If you are not online, you are behind. Customers want to find you easily, have a fluid experience and a smooth transaction. A company’s website should be mobile- and computer-friendly. Consider that e-commerce accounted for 14.3% of total sales in 2020, if you are contemplating the impact of online traffic to your overall company strategy.
  4. Work Remotely: If you are not already working remotely or implementing a hybrid strategy, develop one. That does not mean close up your brick-and-mortar facility or storefront but rather consider what steps or tactical moves your business could deploy to be more viable and supportive of the existing economic climate? How does working remotely impact your staff? Suppliers? Alliances?

The Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 19, 2020, that:

  • Third quarter 2020 retail sales experienced an increase of 12% over second quarter 2020 sales.
  • Third quarter 2020 e-commerce increased an estimated 36.7%–(+1%) over 2019.
  • E-commerce sales in 2020 accounted for 14.3% of total sales.

Link to U.S. Census Bureau 11/19/20:




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