Summer Business School Rules: Pivot Your Business

Today’s Summer Business School Rule is: “When at first you don’t succeed, PIVOT!”

While creating Summer Business School as an online marketing course for small businesses, I got caught up in the excitement of creating a product launch website like the internet marketing gurus. However, I lacked the technological skill and resources to launch in time for Summer. In the meantime, I marketed “Summer Business School” in person at live networking events, and quickly became a part of the tribe of small businesses and start-up companies based in NYC. So while I couldn’t get my online act together quickly enough, my new friends wanted Summer Business School lessons, but not necessarily online. In order to salvage my summer business, I had to switch things up!

One of the terms being thrown around a lot in NYC’s start-up community is “pivot”. In other words, when your original business idea isn’t working, do something different. Pivoting doesn’t mean that you abandon your idea, or even your vision, although it may mean changing your business model. And that’s okay. Sometimes, we approach our business with such blinders that we can’t always see how our idea could be changed or even improved.

But it’s always good to get perspective. Often, that means listening to our customers and mentors. That especially means listening to the objections we receive. Not to say that every objection raised is relevant, but to pay attention for the nugget of wisdom that might be hiding behind it.

If you are thinking about pivoting, here are three methods to consider:

  1. Pivot Your Target Market
  2. Perhaps your original market was unable to afford your rates. You may need to better define your target market. After getting involved in the NYC start-up community, I learned that they, more than the small business owners, were early-adopters interested in using social media. The small business owners I met were more hesitant, and wanted more hand-holding.
  3. Pivot Your Business Model
  4. Look at your product and service and brainstorm new ways to add value. While my original plan was to sell an online course, the in-person workshops turned out to be more successful. After realizing that I had two distinct kind of students, this led to my creating two classes: beginning and advanced levels
  5. Pivot Your Marketing Strategy
  6. It might be time to switch things up, and choose a new marketing message. Or you could try new marketing methods, such as networking, public speaking, or creating online videos. My product launch website was a great tool, but since my learning curve held me back, I ended up marketing my workshops through online websites that provide electronic ticketing.

After a shaky start, Summer Business School pivoted to become a workshop series for small biz owners, startups, and freelancers. And now that I no longer have to rush to create a product launch site, Summer Business School will eventually become a new course, with a new name, that can be marketed year round. So when all else fails, take another look at your business strategy. A pivot here, or a tweak there, may make all of the difference in creating a successful venture.