It’s easy to give into the assumption that during tough times, growth is an anomaly or an impossibility. However, in my years as an entrepreneur, I have learned that a successful pivot isn’t due to sheer luck. These efforts are 100% intentional and necessary.
Great leaders see the opportunities that exist during times like these. They look at the challenges in front of them and find ways to rise above them. While our situation today is different from previous economic downturns in that it has affected everyone across every industry type, leaders need to lean in, think strategically and push through.
I have seen businesses adapt quickly to unexpected disruptions, and you have the ability to do the same. Now more than ever you want to ensure that your business stays strong and able to support the customers that you service. Here are four areas you can double down on to help your business pivot and move ahead during tough times:
1️⃣ Consolidate your tools and streamline processes.
Now is the time to streamline business tools and get lean. As a small business, you should constantly look to improve your existing systems and processes. Eliminate things that don’t move the needle, and double down on areas that move your business forward. Look at enhancements in how you gain a new customer or client, the way you market your business or product, and even who and how you hire. Choose streamlined platforms that can help save money and simplify processes. You want to stay one step ahead for when a customer is ready to start using your services or products.
The benefits of streamlining are especially noticeable when you shift digitally. You could be focusing on marketing growth and automation or investing in contactless tools and virtual payment features. From the beginning, my company invested in cloud-based technologies and looked at how our systems function remotely, as well as in-office. We created synergy between our business tools so when the unexpected time came, we were able to go fully virtual knowing that our tools were easily and quickly adaptable.
Always keep efficiency, connectivity and adaptability top of mind when making decisions on which working tools to adopt and which to get rid of.
2️⃣ Listen and step up to address your customers’ needs.
Focus on what your customers are asking for, and address their needs. You should’ve been doing this from day one, but now more than ever you need to challenge yourself to stand out from your competitors. Doing so makes a massive difference in your monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Give customers a reason to stick with you through an economic downturn.
Customers still have needs and even now are asking for consolidated platforms and how they can engage virtually. We’ve seen our own customers recently come to us for virtual terminals in contrast to physical terminals and for all-in-one solutions.
So, don’t be afraid to launch new products. Keep iterating and improving features. Find new ways to make yourself available to your customers. Innovation comes from the desire to understand and solve a customer’s needs, and then looking beyond those needs to create something even better than what they envisioned.
3️⃣ (Re)build with scalability in mind.
As a small business, I’m sure you’ve heard all about how to grow your business. What many people forget to tell you is how important it is to look at your growth at scale. Let’s face it: Small businesses are especially sensitive to changes in the economy. Once times get tough, there’s an understandable fear that scaling down means you’re unable to continue growing. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it isn’t too late to help your business function at any scale. With the right decisions, temporarily slowing down allows you to go farther and faster in the long run.
I’ve learned that you need to always think about how you can strategically lean out while maintaining performance. If you haven’t already, establish key metrics, and look at data to validate decisions on areas you want to adjust. Look for evidence that spend is still going to bring in $5 for every dollar invested. Run tests and gather feedback to ensure you’re scaling intelligently and able to pivot quickly with minimal impact. The idea is for you to be the one to move the needle in either direction, instead of making decisions reactively.
4️⃣ Lead with empathy.
If you’ve followed my platforms or listened to me speak, you’ve heard me say that how you communicate is important when it comes to leading a team. This is especially true in times of crisis. Whether you realize it or not, your attitude, reactions and approach shape the success and future of your business. When you connect with your team, don’t simply ask how their workload looks. Listen to how they feel, what they’re scared of and what their concerns are. These feelings color the impact of decisions you make.
It’s easier to be a good leader when times are great, but when they’re not, the greatest leaders are the ones who remain transparent and empathetic. They look for ways to inspire their teams to reach farther even when others hold back. Doing so strengthens your team culture and increases trust on both ends. It also increases confidence in your leadership and judgment, especially during those moments you have to make hard, sometimes painful decisions. You’ll also know which areas to prioritize and which successes to share to keep your team running strong.
I have used these approaches since day one of launching my company. They continue to prove their worth in how we’ve been able to remain successful in a tough market. Pivoting is about having a fearless mindset, so don’t be afraid to show up and face the challenge head on — for your business, your team and your customers.