How to Pivot a Small Business in a Crisis

Pivoting a business can be particularly challenging in a crisis. These 5 tips can help small business owners pivot their businesses in a crisis.

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Small businesses in all industries have been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. Those that have adapted to the changes are the ones who will still be standing when it’s over. This isn’t the first crisis small businesses have faced, and it won’t be the last. In 2010, an estimated nine percent of businesses were able to emerge from the recession stronger than ever.

Knowing how to pivot your business now and during a future crisis can help you survive and come out stronger on the other side. Here are some ways you can pivot your business now and during future crises.

1. Think short- and long-term

Consider whether you are looking for a short-term pivot to ride the wave of the crisis or a long-term pivot that will fundamentally change business operations now and in the future. Having this clear distinction will help you make decisions about how to allocate your resources.

2. Talk to your customers

The best way to know what your customers need is to talk to them. Reach out in person, on social media, or through email marketing to discover what customers need from you. You might land on some innovative ideas that your competitors haven’t thought of yet, allowing you to enter a new market.

3. Go back to square one

Some business models just don’t work during a crisis. During COVID-19, for example, any business that relies on in-person engagement is at risk. If your company has to completely close, it’s time to go back to square one to determine what type of business is needed now, at this moment. Work with your leadership team to come up with several ideas, then test them to see what makes the most sense for your customers and market.

4. Look for partnership opportunities

Forming partnerships with other businesses is always a good idea, and it can be especially useful during a crisis. Reach out to other companies to see how you can work together to offer a new or bundled product or service to customers. Look for businesses with similar target audiences or companies that can help you enter a new market. Tap your network to see what opportunities are available and get creative with your approach.

5. Seek out a new supply chain

Many businesses that rely on a robust supply chain tend to stick with the same group of suppliers year after year because it’s familiar. Issues arise, though, when those suppliers are unable to deliver because of a crisis. Take some time now to explore other options. You may be able to find suppliers who are closer to you that can offer comparable or competitive rates. If you can work with local suppliers, you’ll also benefit your community by supporting local jobs.

Pivoting as a business is never easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Be thoughtful in your approach to maximize results. As you work through your pivot, be prepared to make fast decisions based on your test results, and don’t be afraid to fail and try again.


Gulati, R., Nohria, N., & Wohlgezogen, F. (2014, October 06). Roaring Out of Recession. Retrieved September 09, 2020, from

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