One problem businesses can fall into is pivoting and modifying their offerings to meet customers' needs while ignoring the business's needs. In successful business pivots, businesses typically align their customers' desires with the desires of the business.
Being open-minded and flexible is a good thing. It's important to be receptive to new ideas, trends and shifts within the marketplace. Seizing a new opportunity and being in the right place at the right time can be enormously profitable.
But—and it's a big but—it's possible to be too open-minded in business. While many business owners think pivoting—shifting the way you run your business in hopes of bringing in more business—is the ideal mindset, pivoting without considering your business's needs could damage your company.
What's So Bad About Pivoting?
In a way, pivoting for the sake of pivoting can be like a dog chasing its tail: Not only is it not terribly productive, but the dog doesn't even really know what it would do if it ever caught that tail. Likewise, pivoting can mean chasing after some mythical, ideal customer. The thinking goes that if you can only rework your company sufficiently, you'll be precisely what your customers want. You'll have achieved something great, and great success will be yours.
But what typically ends up happening is that in trying to adapt your company and your products, you can end up watering down what made you unique. You can lose your sense of purpose because you may not be who you wanted to be. You may find yourself getting too far away from the reason you founded your company in the first place.
An Alternative to Pivoting
Alignment can be an alternative to pivoting. Rather than trying to force yourself into a mold that doesn't suit you, consider being your authentic self. Be proud of the fact that you're not like every other company out there. Instead of chasing after your ideal customer, you may want to work on making sure your company, your staff, your process and your product are all focused on the same end result—the reason you started your company to begin with.
Now I realize alignment can seem like a nebulous concept, but it's not just another buzzword. Alignment first and foremost requires that you clearly, specifically identify your company's goal. After you've grappled with articulating your mission statement, you can take it a step further by making sure every single employee understands what you're working toward. Explain to them what your reason for being is.
Then you can take a step back and look at every aspect of your business, from marketing and sales to customer service to IT to your relationship with your vendors. How can you make each function—each department—work to better accomplish your goal? You may find that you're spending mountains of time and money on marketing that doesn't actually reach the customers who will best appreciate your services. You might find your technology gets in the way, rather than enhancing your customers' experiences.
Why Does Alignment Matter?
When focusing on alignment, you may discover a host of ways in which you're expending energy, time and money that have little positive impact on your big-picture goals. When you start to refine your company, you can find efficiencies that not only trim time and expenses, but may also help make you better at what you do.
So while pivoting is often thought of as a strategy that improves client satisfaction, alignment may be a better option! Rather than trying to achieve some elusive ideal, you're actually creating better customer experiences. Alignment can help draw your clients—your authentic, natural clients—to you because they can see your vision and your unique contribution to your industry. Their desires are aligned with yours, which can help establish a relationship in which everyone is satisfied. Both you and your customers can feel fulfilled because you want the same things.
We're hardwired to notice what's different—and in a sea of companies all competing for consumer attention and dollars, what stands out is the business that has a unique vision and a clarity of purpose that drives the whole machine. When I learned to unite my staff and my systems so we all worked together, I discovered that my best customers found me. They were drawn to my authenticity, to my reason for being, and they became a part of my success.
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