William Wrigley, Jr. was a soap and baking powder salesman. In the 1890s he decided to offer free chewing gum with his purchases. He quickly realized that the gum was more popular than his actual product. Wrigley went on to manufacture his own chewing gum brands, and today the company grosses billions in revenue and is one of the most recognizable brands in American history.
Columbus businessman Robert S. Crane was at a crossroads. His once-promising light fixture business was swept away with the Great Depression, and Crane had nearly lost everything – except his entrepreneurial spirit. In a time of reflection, Crane realized his success originated not from his lighting techniques, but from his craftsmanship, leading him to found what we now know as the Crane Group, a private holding and management company in both the manufacturing and building trades.
So what do these two companies have in common? They pivoted when they realized there was a bigger opportunity for their business. The Wrigleys and the Cranes of the world are the ones to take a step back and realize that maybe their Plan B is better than their Plan A. And that’s when it’s time to make a bold move — it’s time to pivot.
Not every initiative pans out as expected, and at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, we see businesses making pivots all of the time. Adjustments often need to be made, and those who refuse to adapt often end up by the wayside.
Consider your business plan to be a road map. Often times you may find yourself at a detour — do you shift to another gear, following what the signs are telling you, or do you stall, waiting complacently for something to open that isn’t there?
We recognize that it can be a difficult thing, but making adjustments shouldn’t be about working harder — it’s about working smarter. Whether they are small pivots like ways to approach talent recruitment, or big pivots, like renaming and rebranding their company, they have to be done quickly and strategically.
As our business climate continues to grow and thrive, we’ve noticed more and more businesses are looking for insight on ways to be nimble and progressive. At our 2016 Annual Meeting, we’ll focus on pivots. Our keynote presentation will feature Mark Kvamme, co-founder and partner at Drive Capital. Kvamme himself made a big pivot when he packed his bags and left Silicon Valley to foster the startup industry here in Central Ohio.
As the year is winding down, take a look at your 2016 strategy. Look at your Plan A. Look at your Plan B. Will this be the year you make a pivot?
For more information on the business services that the Columbus Chamber of Commerce provides, visit Columbus.org.