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How some businesses are growing despite the pandemic

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This month signifies the anniversary of the global coronavirus pandemic, which sent shockwaves through the world’s economy. What a ride it’s been – we’ve seen consumer priorities shift and businesses adapting to keep up.

The unpredictable nature of the pandemic has made it difficult for leaders to know if the moves they are making are correct. Businesses need to stay strategic and be proactive as well as reactive – that seems to be the very delicate formula to success for business growth amid a global crisis.

This is far easier said than done, though. So, how did some businesses navigate the uncertainty, make bold moves, and keep their businesses growing?

The pandemic pivot

The most popular business growth strategy over the past year has been the pandemic pivot. This strategy involves either setting up virtual services, using an outsourced marketing agency, launching new product lines or targeting a different customer base.

Businesses that pivoted were three times more likely to have boosted their incomes than those that didn’t. Yes, change can be daunting, but it can also be prosperous!

There are certainly risks that come with the rewards involved in completely changing your strategy at a time of crisis. So, let’s explore some practical advice for shaking things up.

The art of the successful pivot

It can be a challenge to find a starting point when questioning the fundamental existence of your business model. It’s important to view this as an opportunity to make positive changes rather than framing it as a setback.

Even in a moment of darkness, there’s usually a silver lining, and in business, these silver linings typically present themselves in the form of new opportunities.

Business leaders understood the opportunities that digital transformation posed, and during the pandemic, there’s been a natural acceleration of these plans. Supermarket brand Sainsbury’s pivoted to cloud technology and quickly scaled up its overloaded delivery service, a change that will pay dividend way beyond the pandemic. Changes to your business model should be made selectively and with longevity in mind wherever possible.

If the business model ain’t broke

Not all business model pivots need to be newsworthy endeavours. Dr Vaughn Tan, a lecturer at University College London’s School of Management and author of The Uncertainty Mindset, says simply acknowledging uncertainty can help business owners identify more subtle strategic shifts.

However big or small your business model switch, your decisions should be guided by data and specialist insight. Don’t rely solely on instinct or a gut feeling on this one. Outsource professional marketing services if necessary to make sure you’re on course for a successful shakeup. Do your research and crunch the numbers. We can’t emphasise enough the importance of having a realistic idea of how much revenue a shift will generate before pulling the trigger.

Business owners should remember they’re not in this alone. There’s plenty of support you can leverage by getting customers, employees, and virtual marketing partners on board with any strategic changes.

Switching Supply Chains

Sales of children’s toy company PomPom’s indoor climbing frame peaked in sales as the UK first went into lockdown, but supply chain disruptions in Europe made it difficult to keep up with demand. In May, their founder Katherine Rhodes set out to design an improved version of the product and source a UK supplier to make it for her instead.

This was a leap of faith for PomPom, as they had never designed their own product before, and all dealings with their new manufacturer were to be done over the phone or on Zoom. The risk paid off – when the new model launched in September, it sold out within a fortnight.

Bridging The Gap

Gapsquare, a Bristol-based software company, helps businesses comply with gender pay gap regulations. The company, founded by Dr Zara Nanu in 2017, has been growing steadily during the pandemic and has taken on three new staff members.

It launched an interactive workforce management dashboard that uses data to assist an employer’s decision-making in managing people in crisis. The new platform helps global businesses track changes to their business operations, compare themselves across industry and plan for the future.

The company additionally moved its services to a “pay-what-you-can” structure, rather than setting a fixed price, in a bid to help organisations concerned about their budget.

Opportunity In Tech 

Plymouth hi-tech product manufacturer Plessey struck a deal with the social media giant, Facebook, to develop augmented and virtual technology “smart glasses”. Plessey didn’t necessarily pivot their operations, but they benefited from an opportunity that arose from tech’s acceleration and the digitisation of the world.

The Roborough-based company, an embedded technologies developer at the forefront of microLED technology for augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) displays, is now working with Facebook to realise their vision for the next computing platform centred around people.

The tech specs they are manufacturing can take pictures and videos and flash up graphics, data and images onto the spectacles’ glass so the wearer can view it while gazing straight through to the real world.

It’s never too late to pivot, adapt or take on assistance in your business journey. As we enter a new world, one where hopefully COVID-19 will no longer command centre stage, where will you be positioned? It’s said that change is the only constant, but growth can be too. Many a lockdown story can demonstrate this. Get a team of specialists behind you, continue innovating wherever possible, and never stop growing!

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