No one in business today has escaped the dramatic impact of COVID-19. 

For most companies, the current atmosphere has changed how they conduct their business, and for those who provide goods and services to travel, entertainment, hospitality and many more have had to adapt and change direction. How you manage change will determine your ability to pivot.

Rethinking what to change and what to change to is not an option, it’s mandatory. 

In the particular time we are in, the ability to rethink and pivot has never been more important. When you think back to previous decades when change was forced upon the marketplace, it’s easy to spot companies’ specific pivots.

Here are two examples of change:

  • The Internet took hold: The entire business market moved away from paper and printed reference materials to online search engines, with Google leading the way for everyone else. Today, the vast majority of worldwide searches are performed at one URL: Entire industries were put out of business, such as the printing industry. Where there were once dozens of printing exhibitions, today there are none worth mentioning. Publishers moved away from bookstores to online. And of course, has replaced local retail stores at an astounding pace and volume.
    Conclusion: Companies that did not pivot their company’s products and services have been left in the dust, such as Blockbuster, Motorola, Kodak, and many more big brands that are no longer in business.
  • The Great Recession: Money lending came with extremely high rates and for those who relied upon second or third-party finance found themselves upside down with no fall-back resources. These companies were forced out of business, and the surviving companies, ironically the ones who created the crisis, benefited the most. “Too big to fail” became the justified rationale, but that left small to medium-sized businesses swinging in the wind.
    Conclusion: Rightsizing companies caught fire as they searched for ways to sustain themselves. Specialized firms in many fields that had built a strong market presence weathered this difficult time, but many generalist firms could not find the footing to continue. In particular, companies that refused to rethink or pivot from their status quo suffered the most business downturns, including nonprofits and public institutions such as universities which were far too slow to move from classrooms to online learning.

If you find yourself on stable ground today the natural tendency is to continue with your strategy. But with a change in the market, your service or product could become something your clients no longer need. That’s because tough times alter buying decisions when there is a financial benefit for making a change.

The trap that many companies are lulled into is thinking they are immune from the market’s changes and don’t need to rethink their primary goal or strategies. Of course, being confident is a wonderful trait any leader will benefit from. However, when you face a significant market shift that you haven’t anticipated or attempted to plan for, this leads to a predictable downturn.

The good news is you can rethink, pivot, change, and future-proof your company. But don’t just hope things will remain stable, take action to plan ahead by rethinking your primary goal, strategies, and how they will sustain your company. Rethinking strategies is the best way to avoid paralysis.