By now you have reviewed your prior year numbers and know how you feel about the results. If revenue has been less than stellar for two or more consecutive years, it’s time to think seriously about how to respond more effectively to the environment that your organization faces. Create a Plan B and pivot.

Or maybe your numbers were more than respectable, but because you are a savvy market strategist, you know to look three years down the road and follow the advice of hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky and skate not to where the puck has been, but to where it’s going to be. Scanning the horizon for potentially lucrative opportunities and the willingness to pivot is always a good idea for those in business.

To pivot is to adjust your business model in response to current or impending conditions, good or bad. To increase the probability that the tweaking will be successful and you’ll be able to engineer a good pivot, trend and financial analyses, along with planning, are imperative. Market research and reality ( testing of what you think will work are the foundation of your pivot plan.

Start with an analysis of the types of clients that hired you and the projects you were asked to do. A successful pivot could entail expanding your outreach to those clients. What other services could you provide and how might you persuade clients to upgrade what they hired you to do previously? Also, how can you obtain repeat business this year, so that you can maximize the launch of upgrades?

Conduct some self-guided market research and apply the findings to the creation of a pivot strategy.You might receive clues about which of your products and services clients value most, services you might expand and upgrade, or additional services you can sell by reading blogs and newsletters followed by those in the industries that hire you.

Invite a favorite client out to lunch or coffee and diplomatically inquire about his/her organization’s future plans, or current hot buttons in that industry. I think you can afford to be frank and let the client know that you enjoy working with him/her and that you wonder how else you might be of service. Don’t be shy! You need information to set up a marketing test so that you can identify the Plan B to pivot into, plus a marketing message to announce and sell it.

Alan Spoon, general partner at the Boston office of Polaris Venture Partners, recommends that you closely study your customers’ broader behaviors around the use of your products and services. Your research should help you address these questions:

  • What do I do that is perceived by clients as distinctly valuable and could potentially be extended to other client needs?
  • Are there products and services that can have an ongoing use and thus extend billing beyond the initial project?

Thanks for reading,


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