Connect with us

Business Entrepreneur

What to consider before you pivot your business model

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Many businesses have had to pivot during the global pandemic but maybe yours isn’t one of them. Consider these questions first!

Published

on

Two women working at a laptop, no need to pivot business.

When Ross asked Rachel and Chandler (Friends TV show 1994-2004) to move a couch, many of us will never forget his voice inflection and how many times he yelled “PIVOT”! It’s actually a really funny scene and if you’ve never seen it, it might be worth 3.5 minutes of your time. Ross had the best of intentions by starting with a sketch and enlisting help from friends but even that ends up in hilarity as getting his couch in to his apartment doesn’t work and he ends up being offered $4 when he tries to return it (stay for the end of the clip).

The best plans and intentions for your business are often met with what the market and customers demand, where technology grows, and where your ROI is the best. You often know that your original plans will grow and evolve, even in uncertainty and now… a global pandemic.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses have had to lean on technology to add virtual services (or expand their offerings) to meet our current norm where people are just not out and about like they used to be. Some have seen this work well and others have had to completely re-design their offerings to maintain safe and socially distanced considerations.

The thing is, businesses that have pivoted are being highlighted. But it is also worth looking at what has worked for some businesses that didn’t have to completely shift their strategies in 2020. It is likely that they had to adapt but maybe not a ridiculous Ross-type “pivot” that resulted in a complete failure of the mission.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) shared an incredible article, “You Don’t Have to Pivot in a Crisis” with great insights about what to consider if you think you need to make changes or if you want reassurance you are still on the right track.

HBR shares a powerful thought:

“The lesson here is that when a crisis hits, it pays to resist knee-jerk reactions on how to handle external shocks and ask what is going to work best for your company, based on the particular realities of its business. Ignoring the playbook of rapid cuts plus strategic pivoting can be the smart move… However, staying the course doesn’t mean inaction.”

Here are three thought starters you may want to consider for your business:

  1. What product line or service is best serving your customers right now? Is that one of your strongest and/or could it use some attention?
  2. What product line or service is not quite meeting your needs or customer demands at the moment that had seemingly always worked (not forever! Just right now)? For example, in person gatherings and promotions like events, conferences, trade shows.
  3. Is there something you’ve always wanted to explore? And could now be a great time since people want things more virtually? Examples: Selling branded swag, workbooks, content subscriptions, educational webinars.

These are three simple things but could help point you in the right direction of where to focus your time and energy – at least for now. You may not need a complete re-design or to take a new road, it might be some tweaks and adjustments to hang on to what you’ve worked so hard to build.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Entrepreneur

How to choose the right software for your business

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) What are the best software products for your up-and-coming company? Use these questions to decide which kind is best for you.

Published

on

software products

It’s almost impossible to run a successful modern business without some kind of software to help you stay productive and operate efficiently. There are millions of companies and even more independent developers working hard to produce new software products and services for the businesses of the world, so to say that choosing the right software is intimidating is putting it lightly.

Fortunately, your decisions will become much easier with a handful of decision-making rubrics.

Determining Your Core Needs

First, you need to decide which types of software you really need. For most businesses, these are the most fundamental categories:

  • Proposal software. Customer acquisition starts and ends with effective proposals, which is why you need proposal software that helps you create, send, and track the status of your sales documents.
  • Lead generation and sales. You’ll also want the support of lead generation and sales software, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. These help you identify and track prospects throughout the sales process.
  • Marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising platforms help you plan and implement your campaigns, but even more importantly—they help you track your results.
  • Finance and accounting. With finance and accounting software, you’ll track accounts payable and receivable, and countless variables influencing the financial health of your company.
  • Supply chain and logistics. Certain types of businesses require support when it comes to supply chain management and logistics—and software can help.
  • Productivity and tracking. Some software products, including time trackers and project management platforms, focus on improving productivity and tracking employee actions.
  • Comprehensive analytics. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and other “big picture” software products attempt to provide you with comprehensive analytics related to your business’s performance.

Key Factors to Consider

From there, you’ll need to choose a software product in each necessary category—or try to find one that covers all categories simultaneously. When reviewing the thousands (if not millions) of viable options, keep these factors in mind:

    • Core features/functionality. Similar products in a given niche can have radically different sets of features. It’s tempting to go with the most robust product in all cases, but superfluous features and functionality can present their own kind of problem.
    • Integrations. If you use a number of different software products, you’ll need some way to get them to work together. Prioritize products that make it easy to integrate with others—especially ones you’re already using.
    • Intuitiveness/learnability. Software should be intuitive and easy to learn. Not only will this cut down on the amount of training and education you have to provide employees, but it will also reduce the possibilities of platform misuse in the future.
    • Customizability/flexibility. Out-of-the-box software products work well for many customers, but they may not suit your current or future needs precisely. Platforms with greater customizability and flexibility are favorable.
    • Security. If you’re handling sensitive data (and most businesses will be), it’s vital to have a software developed with security in mind. There should be multiple layers of security in place, and ample settings for you to tightly control accessibility.
    • Ongoing developer support. Your chosen software might be impressive today, but how is it going to look in three years? It’s ideal to choose a product that features ongoing developer support, with the potential for more features and better functionality in the near and distant future.
    • Customer support. If you have an issue with the app, will someone be available to help you? Good customer service can elevate the value of otherwise average apps.
    • Price. Finally, you’ll need to consider price. The best apps will often have a price that matches their quality; it’s up to you to decide whether the extra expense is worth it.

Read about each product as you conduct your research, and pay close attention to reviews and testimonials from past customers. Additionally, most software companies are happy to offer free demos and trials, so you can get some firsthand experience before finalizing your decision. Take them up on the offer.

Finding the Balance

It may seem like purchasing or subscribing to new software products will always improve your business fundamentals, but this isn’t always the case. If you become bogged down with too many apps and services, it’s going to make operations more confusing for your staff, decrease consistency, and drain your budget dry at the same time. Instead, try to keep your systems as simplified and straightforward as possible, while still getting all the services you need.

You won’t find or implement the perfect suite of software products for your business overnight. It’s going to take weeks, if not months of research, free trials, and in-house experiments. Remain patient, and don’t be afraid to cut your losses on products that aren’t working the way you originally intended.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

Simple ways to keep your company’s operations lean

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

Published

on

keeping operations lean

The past year and a half has been challenging, not just economically but politically, and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

How to host a truly productive brainstorming session

(BUSINESS) Brainstorming is a powerful business tool, but most sessions are a waste of time due to being poorly planned.

Published

on

brainstorming session

There’s power in numbers – especially when it comes to creativity and innovation. But if you’re going to host a brainstorming session with your team, there have to be some expectations, ground rules, and order to the process. Otherwise, creativity can quickly turn to chaos.

What is a brainstorming session?

A brainstorming session is a gathering of minds with the expressed purpose of generating creative ideas and thoughts around a particular topic, project, challenge, or opportunity. The premise is that there’s exponentially greater creativity when there are multiple minds in the same room.

“Besides simply generating new and unique ideas, brainstorming meetings bring people together where they can all contribute to the creative process,” notes Lucidchart. “Often, this element of brainstorming becomes more valuable than the ideas shared in the actual meeting.”

When you have a successful brainstorming session, individual team members leave feeling valued and empowered.

Not only is there a sense of fulfillment that comes from contributing ideas, but there’s a feeling of being smarter when you leave.

Tips for brainstorming session success:

For best results, brainstorming sessions need to be thoughtfully planned out. And if you put the following tips into action, you will be quite productive:

1. Invite the right people.

Hosting a successful brainstorming session begins with inviting the right people. Typically, it pays to have a variety of people. This includes a mixture of high-level employees and entry-level employees, introverts and extroverts, Type A and Type B personalities, etc.

Likewise, you want to be sure you’re not inviting too many people. When you have too many people present, it’s easy for a few people to steal the show while everyone else remains passive and provides little-to-no contributions.

2. Set the proper expectations.

A good brainstorming session starts with preparing individuals for what to expect. This happens both before the meeting and at the start of the meeting.

Setting expectations begins when you extend the invitation to attend the session. Clearly explain what the session is about and how it will go. Give them a specific timeframe and let them know if they need to show up with anything prepared.

Once the meeting begins, explain what will happen, set ground rules, and make sure everyone understands that a brainstorming session is designed to produce as many ideas as possible (not necessarily pick the best one). In other words, it’s not good practice to shoot down people’s ideas. Instead, everything gets brought into the light and can be filtered and refined at a later date.

3. Use the Right Tools.

Having the right tools on hand can make any brainstorming session much more efficient. One of the best applications is a platform called Box Notes. This online note-taking app allows teams to live-scribe notes in real-time (all at once or individually). This makes it perfect for both in-person brainstorming sessions, as well as virtual ones.

You may also find it helpful to have some sort of timer app or countdown clock that helps you stay on track. It’s easy for time to get away from you, but with a pre-programmed clock, you stay on task and can fluidly move from one part of the session to the next.

4. Promote creativity.

Do everything you can to promote a creative environment where people are most likely to bring fresh, innovative ideas. And this starts with the location of the brainstorming session.

“It’s easy to auto-default to the same old conference room every time you need to call a meeting,” Atlassian admits. “But our brains love novelty, and being in a new location can also exercise our brain’s neuroplasticity, or our ability to think about things in a new way. By switching up locations, you can improve the quality of ideas that come out of that brainstorm.”

Additionally, factors like lighting (natural sunlight), music (jazz or instrumental tunes), and even aromas (like tangerine oil, frankincense, or clary sage) can all boost creativity.

Supercharge Your brainstorming session.

Hosting regular brainstorming sessions is always a good idea. And if you implement the aforementioned suggestions, you’ll find that your sessions are even more creative and productive than usual. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!