Pivot. Or Die.
“The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive.”
James C. Collins, author of Good to Great
Take heed entrepreneurs. You got this. Taking the plunge to start a business is one of the hardest and gutsiest things anyone can do. And you’ve already done that. Let me remind you how brave and strong you are.
But let me push you a little further. What’s made you a great entrepreneur is your ability to see a better way, and have the guts to act. Now’s the time to conjure up that same energy and passion, take a hard look at your situation, and lead your organization headlong into the new normal and not just survive, but succeed. You need to pivot. Or die.
Success and greatness aren’t achieved by being stubborn or having a lousy attitude. It’s by seeing opportunity within your company’s expertise and specialty, and as the world and your customers change, you pivot. A pivot doesn’t mean stop and drop everything and chase some utterly new and different opportunity. Take long-time Propr client Culinary Architecture. Since 2015, CA owner and chef Silva Lin has been growing her company as a top tier corporate catering business. But with the pandemic, she lost nearly 100% of her customers overnight. Since Culinary Architecture has clear brand values, thanks to the Propr branding workshop, they successfully pivoted within their radius, to thrive as a fabulous grocer. She didn’t stop and drop everything, she pivoted.
Extinction Events for Brands Start Within
Below is a gallery of photos* of once-great brands that are now extinct. There are many reasons why they no longer exist. Still, their demise was not due to a recession or economic downturns. Overwhelmingly, according to Good to Great by Jim Collins, successful companies fail because they don’t have clear core values to guide decision making, lack the discipline to pivot within the radius of their expertise in a changing world, and shift the blame outward. They didn’t pivot. They died.
*We take no credit for the photographs, whoever took the photos own all the rights to them.
How to Pivot and Live
Determine your core brand values.
The 1st step in the Propr Branding Workshop is to determine our client’s core brand values. We unlock a brand’s specific 3-4, practical core values. Core Values are the foundation of the institution and pillars of every message they deliver. Anything over 5 core values is impractical, and not core to the brand. Read more about Nokia and Polaroid.
Get the right people in and the wrong people out.
Make sure your team is the right team, and they share the passion, values, and character to build a culture of excellence. There is a lot of talent out there, get rid of the dead weight, but be patient and particular before bringing in new folks. Look no further than my beloved 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. They had the leadership and plan in place, with clear core values. But it took years to build through the draft and select the right players through free agency and minor trades. Then in 2009, they wavered from their core values and went after big named pitchers that didn’t fit the culture, losing to the damned Yankees.
Face the facts, seek opportunities.
Take a hard look in the mirror, skip the opinions, and face the brutal facts of reality, and realize what you aren’t, but seek who you can be. For example, are you a craft beer brand that relied on brick and mortar sales before the 2020 pandemic? Perhaps you can offer home delivery, drive-up service, distribution, and contract brewing? Or pivot to making soda, turning the brewery into a co-op?r repurpose your equipment for something in high demand?
Pivot only in your radius.
Know what you are, what you can be, and what you will never be. Use your core values and brand purpose to pivot within your success and opportunity radius. For example, Sylva of Culinary Architecture didn’t stop being a chef; she pivoted to stop being a corporate caterer to offering her fantastic food and meals direct to customers and the community. Use the three circles of the Hedgehog Concept to understand your opportunities.
Lastly, have a purpose.
If your sole purpose is to make money, the only pivot that will help you succeed is to become a purpose-led company because shallow or short-sighted businesses are on the path to extinction. 💯