Pivoting with Possibility

Pivoting with Possibility

Rob Hartnett 23/04/2020 4
Pivoting with Possibility

Pivoting is something you learn in skateboarding very early on.

You have to otherwise crashes and injuries will fast come your way. Some boards pivot better than others, but it's a skill you need no matter what type of board you ride. It's all also a great skill to have as business owner and leader. Firstly we need to get our attitude and mindset right. You need to believe it's actually possible for you to pivot. Napoleon Hill wrote "Every adversity comes with a seed for greater opportunity". If we want to pivot with success we need to really believe this because how we view things, is how we will do things. That's why Positive Thinking is great but Positive Action must follow as action leads us to the next level of experiences and learning and on our way to new possibilities.

So assuming your mindset is correct, how do you pivot? Do you have to abandon all your skills and learning and disappear on a new tangent? Well that is always an option but there are other ways to pivot that could be faster and leverage what you already have invested in in terms of people, resources, assets and knowledge. The key here is to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Who are we? - for example are we local, global, are we experts, coaches, mentors?

  2. What do we do? - for example do we coach sport or do we teach life skills and change lives? We tend to underestimate the impact we really have.

  3. Why does it matter? - this is the big one. Ask yourself if we closed down what would happen?, who would be affected, what downstream business, employees, customers or suppliers would be affected and to what extent. What true value to we bring?

  4. Who else needs this now? - how transportable are our skills? For example I have read automotive manufacturing line workers have similar skills to aged care workers. Accountants have similar skills to Police Forensic investigators. What markets are growing that may not need your current business title but do need your skills?

Here are how some of my clients are “pivoting with positivity” in these challenging times after doing this exercise.

A client in the high end Home Kitchen Renovation business pivoted to home office construction. The owners had a look at what they did in terms of purpose and skills they could offer and the market need. They did high quality, efficient and effective renovations that made owners happy and increased the value of homes. What was needed now? Home offices. This could be a simple dividing wall or a customisation of a spare room.

A client pivoting from leisure sales of boats to a focus on government and business sales of boats. While discretionary spending on things like boats has essentially disappeared there are still needs for boats but from a new untapped market. Government departments need to increase their border protection work. State Governments need to police waterways and Fisheries need to do their work. They need compliant, specific boats that are not too different from my clients range of boats. They just had to up skill in Business to Government Sales from Business to Consumer.

A client pivoting from providing Web Services to Web Coaching for business owners with time on their hands now. This client ran a successful business working from retainers assisting busy business owners with online marketing and web services. After a week of disappointing calls as business owner cancelled their retainers or cut back significantly the owners re looked at their business. They had trusted relationships, they had proven skills. Their former clients had less cash and people but did have time so they offered coaching sessions and training lessons on how the business owners could do their own digital marketing.

A client in financial services moved 75% of their B2B outbound sales team to their customer service desk equipped with new call scripts that check in on business owners first and foremost. This pivot provided additional benefits of having the sales team experience customer service calls which aided increased skills in emotional intelligence and empathy, added to collaboration between the sales and service teams and sped up customer service calls and in turn NPS scores.

Another example is Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Coldplay were to get together to record some new songs however Covid-19 meant the band members were stuck in various locations around the world. Rather than dwell on the problem. Chris decided to pivot from live stage to Instagram Live and playing requests from his home studio sent in by Coldplay fans from around the world.

Here is a positive action we can all do. Get on the phone and call a customer, a prospect, a supplier, a vendor and ask just like Joey from the TV Show Friends, “How you doin”. Then listen with empathy and share your feelings too. This is a time to build relationships not a pipeline.

Positive thinking with positive action makes it all possible.

Rob Hartnett is the CEO of The Hartnett Group & an independent Executive Director of The John Maxwell Team and author of “It’s All Possible – How to lead an epic life and unleash the high-performance hero within” https://www.robhartnett.com https://www.johinmaxwellgroup.com/robhartnett

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  • Tom Pearson


  • Callum Hughes

    Good stuff

  • Kieran O'Connor

    Powerful read :)

  • John Cassidy

    I need that type of wisdom in my life.

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Rob Hartnett

Management Expert

Rob is an Advisory Partner at Global Sales Performance Company Miller Heiman Group. He is a seven times Global Presidents Club Winner. He is the author of three books on Business Growth and has appeared on a number of TV, Radio and Media channels on the subject of top line business performance. Rob is a former world & state champion yachtsman, a passionate cyclist, motorsport follower and an advocate for Men's Health. Rob holds a Bachelor of Business and a Post Graduate in Applied Finance & Investment from RMIT University and the Securities Institute of Australia and is a certified coach in Leadership with the John Maxwell Team.

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