Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it's entrepreneur Josh Comrie on the different methods for switching up your existing business.

The only thing that looks certain over the coming weeks and months is the need for change.

We may go up and down through levels of lockdown again. We may face new, permanent Covid-19 restrictions as we wait for a vaccine – like our borders staying shut indefinitely. Programmes to help us adapt will arrive, expire or be replaced by something new.

Listen to the podcast episode here

Through all of this, businesses will be trying to survive, and to do that, they'll need to change every time the conditions do.

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But there are options, to allow you to consider changes both big and small.

1. Try out new products and services

As life changes, the needs of your customers will too.

If you keep an ear to the ground you have the opportunity to launch new products or services that didn't work before, but do now.

On the latest Pivot Pod, entrepreneur Josh Comrie said businesses could adopt lean start-up principles, to test out new ideas with a minimum viable product.

"The key there by the way is 'viable'. That's a critical point to make.

"Understand that it's a hypothesis, and like any hypothesis, it requires testing and validation to get to the marketplace.

"So gather people around you, make sure that you're having good debate, and just try some things out without necessarily putting the core business at risk."

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2. Pivot to something entirely new

If you're looking to embrace wholesale change, Comrie said there were four ways you could look to pivot your business to a new idea.

In a vertical pivot you move up or down the chain of your existing industry, for a horizontal pivot you find a new market for what you already do, the startup pivot means you start something completely new but under the name of your existing business, and the business model pivot requires restructuring how you deliver your products or services.

"You can persevere, or you can pivot, and the pivot is where you change your hypothesis to focus on an entirely new one."

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3. Keep staff if you can, so that you're ready to ramp up production when recovery comes

Comrie acknowledges that staff costs are often one of the higher fixed costs.

But it's worth sitting down to figure out what you think will happen next, and forming a plan so that you have the staff on hand to rise to the occasion.

"One of the businesses that I was running during the [2008] Global Financial Crisis, we went into it with a plan. Then I didn't make any redundancies across the core business.

"It took six months for the shake up to happen in the market, and by then our competitors had either gone to the wall or massively reduced their staff numbers, so were unable to deliver for projects that came through the door.

"So when activity started to pick up in the middle of 2009, we were there and able to capitalise on that opportunity and grow. We tripled in size over the next 18 months."

4. Talk to those around you – change isn't made in a vacuum.

Comrie recommends seeking feedback from mentoring organisations, chamber of commerce branches, and those close to you.

Finding new ways to operate post-Covid will require creativity, and that's usually drummed up in conversation with others, not sitting and worrying by yourself.

"People are seeking support from a huge variety of different sources. Life partners, professional advisors, board of directors, those sorts of folk.

"I believe this needs to continue, because resolving problems in a vacuum is a very difficult thing to do for the great majority of people.

"Innovation isn't something that tends to come about in a vacuum, for me personally. It comes about through conversation."

Listen to the full interview on The Pivot Pod episode above.

If you have a question about this podcast, or question you'd like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

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