While it is the framework of your business, your business plan isn't carved in stone. It should be re-examined, amended, or sometimes altered altogether. As challenges arise, your business may need to pivot to another strategy to continue. This isn't a failure of your original business idea — it's the necessary evolution of what you’ve built.
The COVID-19 pandemic tested small businesses’ adaptability and presented owners with unforeseen complications. Small businesses had to expand their primary revenue streams through creative strategies. Some pivoted to an entirely new business model.
“They closed gyms during the pandemic, so I had to close." said Lejuan Coleman, owner of i-Resolve Fitness, a gym in central Ohio. But Coleman didn’t give up.
At Big Insight: Small Business, Coleman detailed how he successfully pivoted. “Everybody was stressed out. I started personal training just one person at a time. Somebody asked me to come to their house and train, then a client in Bexley asked, 'will you come to everybody's house?' I was like, well, yeah." The calls kept coming in, and Coleman started in-residence training all over central Ohio.
“I started making more money than when I was training out of my gym. I knew nothing about technology, but I learned, and now I've got a client in San Diego, one in New York, and a bunch here in Columbus that I train over the phone. They like accountability, but sometimes people need to talk, so we just talk,”  he said. Through adapting to a difficult change, Coleman managed to stay afloat and even increase his revenue.
Sara Rose is co-owner of Objective Reality Games, a virtual-reality escape room company. They license escape rooms from Ubisoft — publishers of blockbuster game franchises such as Assassin's Creed and Far Cry. Their arcade space houses over 50 arcade games. The business is very much an in-person experience.
“During COVID, we transitioned because our business got shut down," Rose said at Big Insight: Small Business. Rose and her partner, Colin, pivoted to another venture. “We started a design studio, and we just released our first video game." The studio created Deed of Deception, the world’s first replayable, randomized VR escape game.
These entrepreneurs found innovative ways to serve their customers by pivoting. If your business needs
something new, here are a few ways to shift business models and create new revenue streams.
⭐ Diversify your products or services
If you own and run a guitar shop, how can you diversify your offerings?
Electronic music is popular, so you can consider selling synthesizers or DJ equipment. Giving in-store guitar lessons will not only generate extra revenue — your students might become potential guitar customers.
Finding a complementary product or service to add to your primary business can breathe new life into your company. Targeting different clientele could double your income.
⭐ Put on or take part in events
Putting on an event or workshop can be an excellent way to connect with your customers and network with other businesses. Your yoga studio could partner with a local craft brewery and host a ticketed Yoga and Brews event to bring in extra revenue, and hopefully, future clients. Finding other businesses to collaborate with can be a great way to discover new revenue streams.
If you lack the resources to put an event on yourself, participating in a festival can expand your customer base and allow your business to try something different.
⭐ Consult in your areas of expertise
If your business is highly specialized, you might make a great consultant. For instance, if you manufacture special tools for painless dentistry, you’d be qualified to consult with dentists, medical professionals, tool manufacturers, entrepreneurs interested in your field, and small business owners looking to find a niche. No matter your industry, businesses could benefit from learning your processes and strategies.
⭐ Add B2B or B2C clients
If you run a business that sells directly to clients, try selling to businesses. For instance, if you sell hand-crafted purses and use leatherworking tools, you could sell ready-to-assemble purse materials to other companies.
If you run a business that sells to businesses, try offering something to customers. An industrial cleaning company could add a revenue stream by providing residential cleaning services.
⭐ Publish a blog or podcast about your industry (with ads)
Podcasts and blogs might seem like free services, but they are often supported by ads. If you own an Ethiopian-American fusion restaurant, you could start a podcast offering insights into innovative ways to combine traditional cooking with new techniques, and you could provide recipes.
⭐ Offer content or services via subscription
Maybe you are a personal investment advisor. Through a subscription service such as Patreon, you could offer video masterclasses on specific aspects of investing or interviews with the world's top investors.
Even if everything you know is available for free on the internet, it’s not all available from your perspective in a tidy package. People will pay for convenient, high-quality, unique content.
⭐ Create gift cards
Offering gift cards — or their digital equivalent — could entice your customers into spending more. Whether you sell these gift cards at a discount or not, a physical gift card can be a token of your brand and remind the buyer of your business whenever they open their wallet. Gift cards evoke the idea of your goods or services. Gift cards create a physical tie to your company and add unsure-gift-buyers to your customer base.
⭐ Offer delivery
Delivery isn’t just for the food and flower industries. If you offer a physical product, consider the added convenience of delivering it directly to your customers. This creates revenue for you and more personalized service for customers.
Even when business is going great, remember to reevaluate your business plan once in a while. Pivoting to something new could help you stay afloat in tough times or even change your business into something far more successful.