On “pivot,” the trendy new word of the business class

Pivot is the new darling word in the world of economic development as our business community eases out of COVID-19 closures and cutbacks to increased levels of commerce.
It’s a good word nationally and in Grand County, where I will call it the Grand Pivot.

But just for clarity, what does “pivot” mean? It means, in the sense here as a verb, to turn. In the sense of the Grand Pivot with COVID, it means to turn or “pivot” away from shut-downs, closed doors and slow business to a new environment where there will be more business, more customers and more interaction with the public.

Also, I think it also means to “pivot” from doing business the way it was done before the pandemic.

So it really ends up meaning turning toward more business that comes with layers and layers of restrictions, lower levels and customer paranoia. In other words, it’s pivoting to a new “normal” that isn’t “normal” at all.

The first key characteristic of the Grand Pivot will be to embrace change and new ways of doing business. Turn away, if you will, from the old ways and, if needed, shrink or change your business model.

The Grand Pivot will also involve being extremely efficient in every phase of our operations. This seems obvious as income is likely to be lower and certain costs are likely to be higher. So be efficient.

The Grand Pivot also means listening customers’ needs and demands and change from the “old way” of doing business to the new way of accommodating customer needs and demands in the age of COVID. Embrace take-out and outside seating if you’re in the restaurant business. Embrace smaller, dispersed crews if you are in construction. You get the idea.

The Grand Pivot also means keeping employees safe. Yes, we want to accommodate all those tourists who are coming to our county, but we want to do so in a way that keeps employees safe, even if it takes more time and costs more. Pass the higher costs on to the consumer. Believe me, they will understand.

Embrace newer and more technological ways of generating income to make up for the loss of foot traffic. A new company has launched in Grand County, for example, that specializes in getting a local retailer’s product line on-line quickly and easily, allowing business that didn’t have access to an on-line selling platform a quick way to get there without having to hire a web-guru on staff. The company is called Scope Boutique and it’s locally based.

The Grand Pivot also means embracing the social distancing, face mask requirements and other hassles of this pandemic. Celebrate them, in fact, because these are the requirements that have helped to keep Grand County in the group of resort counties with relatively low numbers for COVID infections. That low number is a marketing lure. Let’s keep it low by staying safe.

The Grand Pivot also means that we all must recognize that this strange time will end and that business will come back and hordes of tourists will one day once again be crowding our ski slopes and main streets. We must pivot to be ready for that, whether it’s this winter or next summer.

The Grand Pivot also means patronizing local businesses as much as possible.
And finally, the Grand Pivot means being ready just in case there is another surge of the virus, as some people suspect might happen. If a business has pivoted as suggested above, it will be ready.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

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