Sink or Swim: It’s all about how you pivot

As the world changes in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are not likely to return to the old ways of doing things. People, businesses, and entire industries are evaluating, updating, and re-inventing how things are done. And that is a great thing!

Rather than spending time and energy wishing things would “go back to normal” or convincing ourselves to get used to the “new normal,” let’s ensure what we’re doing today in our lives and business will be relevant tomorrow. Striving for “normal” was and never will be a recipe for success but relevance that is something to pursue with a passion. If you want to be relevant, you need to have an open mind, listen to, and anticipate the needs and wants of those you serve.

My father has always told me to “Accept reality if you can’t change it. When you don’t accept reality, your life is miserable. Once you accept reality, you release your creativity so you can solve your circumstance.” He was a mechanic in a printing business when he started working in his teens and ended up buying the company. As he grew his business, he invested in advanced machines and a bigger space for his printing shop, which increased his revenue but not his profits. He had a family to care for and knew he had to change if he was going to create wealth and weather the storms.

Rather than doubling-down on old methods, he began to look for answers. He met a friend who could better control his profits by manufactured figurines using the injection molding method. My dad knew he could not migrate to this new business model overnight, but he could start shifting course. After volunteering to work at his friend’s business in the evenings for free in exchange for learning about the business, he migrated his business to a figurine manufacturing company in less than two years.
His business pivot supported the family; after he sold the company, he was able to fund his retirement fully. You see, the printing business was dramatically shifting, and my dad saw that there was no way a small business like his would be able to compete as the industry became capital-intensive. So he decided to pivot early to stay relevant.

After seeing my dad re-invent his business and pivot with the changing times, I’ve consistently applied that learning to my career and personal pursuits.

Rather than pursuing a path or promoting products and services that may be less relevant, I’ve learned to trust my instinct and pivot when needed. Sometimes this means acquiring a new skill; other times, I have found it much more valuable to build on what’s working and pair up with others who have complementary skills to serve our clients best.

The world is currently riding a big wave of change. We can’t stop the wave from coming, and if we stay on the beach, our sandcastles/businesses will get washed away with the tide. So, if you’re still sitting on the beach waiting for the wave to pass, ask yourself these questions about your business and services.

  1. Is it effective?
  2. Is it efficient?
  3. Is it relevant?
  4. Does it bring you joy?

If you’re spending your time, energy, and hard-earned money on things that are not a resounding yes to all of these questions, it’s time to accept reality and get creative! Those that adapt quickly will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that wait. Here are a few questions to consider as you look for new innovative solutions to offer your clients.
Has the problem we have been solving changed?
If the issues have changed, what do they look like now?
Are you the person/company to solve it, be honest?
What additional skills do you and your team need to pick up to be relevant?
What baggage do you need to drop so you can accept reality and move forward?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

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