Book Review – Pivot and Grow By Andrew Priestley

Pivot and growPivot and Grow by Andrew Priestley is a compilation of insights from different writers, 20 in all including Andrew who wrote the last chapter. This is a book full of insight and my review won’t do it little justice. In fact I am publishing it with the review not completed yet and as I add more information daily you will be able to read it. This book was written for the world in which we are currently living, the world of the pandemic, and even though it is written for larger businesses, those of us interested in side hustles can learn a thing or two from it. At the end of the review I will write out a summary of my top three lessons from the book but you will have to wait for that. In the meantime, here’s my review so far. As this is not your usual book, my review consists mainly of personal insights from each writer.

THE MAGIC WITHIN BY NIKIE PIPER

Nikie starts out this chapter by telling us that being aware of ourselves and who we are is important, so taking the time to learn about ourselves especially if we are aware of the fact that our thoughts can create our reality is crucial.

One fundamental of life is that you cannot support others if you don’t support yourself first. You are the key and you are the answer.

Another lesson here is the importance of focusing on what is going right and being grateful for where we are can help us shift our focus away from lack and the negative onto a more postive focus.

Energy flows where attention goes.

Nikie believes that, creating a positive yet supportive collaborative environment will create such a shift in how you see your people  and your business.

What I am saying is that if you focus on what’s going right, what you’re grateful for within your life and your business and shift your attention from lack and negative you change the whole energy around the situation.

Nikie challenges us to be grateful for our products, think differently and pivot our thinking to grow business.

PIVOT PROFIT BY ANDY CRISTIN

In challenging times such as these, there are three ways you can pivot your business to keep getting customers. They are:

  1. Existing services, new services: This type of strategy allows a business to put together a defensive strategy to stay in business till the business can be rebuilt.
  2. Existing clients, new services: This is a radical strategy that involves marketing a new service to existing clients. This can be a more challenging strategy to implement.
  3. Existing clients, improved services: This strategy also focusses on existing clients, but in this case rather than try to offer something completely new, the original service is developed to provide a better solution. Often this involves narrowing down the service to hone in on a niche solution.

CUTTING THROUGH WHEN SEEMINGLY CUT DOWN – LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN ABOUT (RE)BUILDING YOUR BRAND, YOUR BUSINESS AND YOURSELF

Don’t stop investing in the pandemic, find innovative ways to keep investing so you can focus on the longer term rather than react to the challenges of the moment.

Keeping the light on  is the most important strategy in difficult times. Rather than retrenching investment, true leaders see the opportunity.

Your role as a business or marketing leader, is to keep reminding yourself that marketing is an investment rather than a cost. Those that invest in a recession, will be the ones that win and grow in the long term.

A PARENT COMPANY: THREE KEYS TO MANAGING YOUR CHILDREN SO YOU CAN MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS BETTER BY AMBER TRUEBLOOD

There were some refreshing insights in this chapter, especially if you are working from home and trying to care for your children at the same time. Summarily the three keys are:

  1. Maximise your mindset: How you mentally approach your day, family and your business affects how you perceive the world and how you respond as a result of those perceptions. Your mental mindset can shift everything. Good or bad. Actions you can take include doing short deep breathing in the morning to improve focus and calm yourself, identifying what your most import priorities for the day are and adapting by noticing what’s working well and giving yourself permission to change what isn’t working well.
  2. Clear up your communication: How we speak and listen to people can make or break our communications. Focus your energy on communicating with everyone around you positively. Work with your children as a team and when necessary say ‘thank you’ and ‘i’m sorry’.
  3. Practice purposeful parenting: Involve your children and delegate tasks to them and don’t delegate trigger tasks or tasks that if done incorrectly will make you annoyed. Also, plan in scheduled breaks to check on your children when you are working and make them SWEET (sweet stands for making sure your children Sleep well, drink Water, Exercise, Eat and Take breaks).  Making your children SWEET can get rid of a lot of behavioural issues.

It may not be easy, but the tools are simple. Improving your mindset, communication and parenting will help you grow your business in a positive direction without losing your mind or family in the process.

THREE CASE STUDIES – ONE LESSON BY BOB HAYWARD

Bob discusses three case studies that had to do a pivot because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. There was a shelter company that pivoted to creating an industrial sanitiser product.
  2. A car sales company that changed its process of selling to maintain and increase customers.
  3. A company that embraced remote working, saved on office space but helped a long term cleaner who would have been made redundant to set up a home cleaning business.

It is your thinking that pivots. Good luck or bad luck it is how you think differently that changes your response and therefore the outcome.

TO ‘PIVOT AND GROW’ IS TO SUCCEED – IN LIFE AND BUSINESS – TAMMY BANKS

Tammy’s story and experience is inspirational. She came from a background of harm and abuse, became homeless at the age of 15 after dropping out of school. After being supported by a frontline professional, she went back to school, got a degree and went ahead to help people in the Criminal Justice System. Her own life experience drove her to help people escape from the cycle of harm and abuse. Tammy worked her way up to management roles and eventually became the CEO of a charity working to prevent sexual abuse. Tammy wanted to have more influence on helping people and so ended up setting up her own company training people with lived experience to deliver training to frontline workers. Tammy sees all these twists and turns in her life as pivots. Recently she had to pivot again, from being an accomplished face-to-face trainer, she had to move her training online and deliver it virtually. According to Tammy, ‘Through life, personal and business, it’s important to keep moving forward’.

There are always defining moments in everyone’s life where you have an opportunity to continue as you are or need to ‘pivot and grow’ to survive. These are forks in the road. One path means stagnation and being left behind. It means nothing ever changes. Many people choose this path but really it’s a life of survival at best. The other path means evolving and adapting to thrive. It means embracing the opportunities that come your way, even if inside you feel afraid and unsure about whether you can rise to the challenge. It sets you on the path to success.

DOUBLE YOUR TENDER WIN-RATE: A RECIPE OF SEVEN INGREDIENT BY SCOTT KEYSER

Scott writes about competitive tendering and offers seven ingredients to win on bids. If you are into competitive bidding you should read this chapter. Here are the seven ingredients:

  1. Nail your value proposition
  2. Bind the goldern thread of Pain-Value-Price
  3. Build a 90% bid library
  4. Streamline your bid process
  5. Develop worldclass bidding skills
  6. Pre-quality every major opportunity
  7. Get buyer feedback post-award

CONNECTING THE HEAD AND HEART PIVOTING TO EXCEPTIONAL ONLINE BUSINESS EVENTS

For me, Lorna writes about a very familiar territory because I have had to go through exactly what she discusses here. Lorna deals with having to move from providing face-to-face events such as training to delivering virtual events. As a learning and development practitioner I have had to do the same at work. She offers some good advice, here’s a summary of her advice:

  • Start with your ‘why’
  • Think about your ‘ideal’ session
  • Construct your vision
  • Always think interactively
  • Then choose your delivery platform to suit
  • Focus on user-experience to maximise immersion, emotion and engagement

You should definitely read this if you want to move from delivering classroom sessions to live-online events.

Focusing on your participants rather than what you want to say will ensure your online events are exceptional, outstanding and pack a punch time after time.

SO, WHAT DO YOU DO? – ROBIN WAITE

Robin challenges us to answer a key question here, how specific are we about what services or products our business is offering? If you are not then he wants to help by guiding us to clearly define three niche areas for our business which are:

  1. The market niche: To answer the question of what your market niche is, start by answering these three questions, who do I love working with the most? Who do I get the best results for? Who can afford to buy my products / services? 
  2. The product niche: Be as specific as possible with what your product or service is and what it offers potential customers.
  3. The pricing niche: Don’t price your product by looking at how others are pricing, price your product according to the value you are providing.

There are some case studies  in the chapter to illustrate the principles discussed.

You may have spotted nailing your Product, Market and Pricing niche is not a pivot. There is no need to switch your marketing strategy or wildly change your product. Instead I am suggesting you refine your Market Niche, so it is super specific.

PICK A LANE BY SAMMY BLINDELL

Sammy writes about how to brand yourself brilliantly and outpace your competion. His answer to this is to, ‘create your Fame Name and get known 100% for just ONE THING.’

A fame name according to Sammy is, ‘a simple identifier of just three to four words that make it totally obvious to a stranger who you are, what you do and how you do it.’

You create your Fame Name by getting totally clear on your brand promise. Sammy suggests answering three questions. They are:

  1. WHAT’S ONE THING you deliver for your customers 100% of the time?
  2. WHAT’S ONE SERVICE you really want to be known for 100% of the time?
  3. WHAT’S ONE RESULT you leave your customers with 100% of the time?

Sammy goes on to describe a clear process for defining your fame name. If you are building a side hustle then you may find this exercise useful. Summarily here’s the process Sammy defined:

To start with, your fame name should be no more than three words (maximum of four words).

  1. The first word is easy, because out of the three words you have to play with, your first word is THE.
  2. The second word of your Fame Name should be WHAT YOU MOST WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR.
  3. The third word of your Fame Name should be THE OUTCOME / RESULT YOUR CLIENTS RECEIVE.

Here are some fame name examples:

  • Sammy Blindell – The Brand Builder.
  • Jennifer Louise – The Successful Salon Mentor
  • Joanna Howes – The Change Creator

If your brand is inconsistent, people will believe what you deliver is inconsistent.

BUSINESS REJUVENATION IN UNCERTAIN TIMES BY MATTHEW NEWNHAM

Here Matthew writes about soul-centred branding which is about appealing to people’s emotions and that involves offering our products to the people that need them most. That will require you to know what your ‘superpower’ is. Superpower in this context is what we do well most. When you identify your superpower, next you need to be clear about which problems you care about solving. You deliver value by putting your superpower to work on these problems. If you are not clear about your superpower, it will be challenging for you to deliver true value to your customers.

It’s also highly advisable that you genuinely care about your chosen audience, as well as the problems you’ve chosen to help solve. That care will be read by your audience and customers in all kinds of ways. If you have it, put it to use.

ALL COMPANIES CAN PIVOT AND GROW WITH DATA BY MIKE BUGEMBE

This chapter is all about the power of data to business and Mike discusses how businesses can pivot with data. Mainly because a lot of business is done on the internet, data that can drive a business forward can be collected  via websites, social media and payment platforms. Mike answers a key question here, what can you do with data? His answers are:

  • ability to market to customers more effectively
  • design products that meet specific customer needs
  • identify growth opportunities
  • reveal new sources of revenue forecast more accurately

Mike shares with us three essential best practices that will place you firmly on the path to realising value from data. They are:

  1. Becoming data literate: According to Mike, data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyse and communicate with data. It’s a skill that empowers every employee to ask the right questions, build knowledge, make decisions, and communicate meaning to others. Today there are many non-technical courses that can help us to become data literate.
  2. Collect the right data: While there is abundance of data around us, collecting the right kind of data can be a challenge. Mike writes that, your objective is to collect meaningful data. That means data that leads to actionable insight and informs business decisions.
  3. Extract the story from the data: data is merely numbers, create a narrative from data and turn it into a story and it becomes very useful. An easy way to create stories from data is to explore the data for trends.

Data has only one use case, supporting effective decision making

UNLOCKING THE COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE TO DRIVE POSITIVE CHANGE BY MARISSA ELLIS

Marissa starts out the chapter with this statement:

The number one, often overlooked goal in business is to remain relevant.

Why does she say this?

Because according to her, relevance is what drives sales, great customer experiences, value creation and profit.

Marissa believes relevance exists at the intersection of two things, everything your business could do and what your customers care about. Marissa pushes the concept of relevance even further to pusposeful relevance, which adds another principle to the mix, what would make the world a better place. So now it’s not just about successful business but successful business that improves the world.

Tapping into collective intelligence to drive change involves really taking diversity serious and having inclusive thinking that allows the business to utilise diverse people with diverse skills. Basically, it’s using difference to strengthen and grow business.

And what about change? Marissa introduces a useful tool she created called the Change Canvas which has the following components:

  • Reflection board: Allows us to look back to understand where we are now, the problems we are trying to solve and why change is needed.
  • Vision board: Allows us to look forward to define what success looks like and set goals for success.
  • Progress board: Helps us generate ideas, take action and celebrate results.

The change board is a template you use to collect the answers to all three components.

Business is a journey and not a destination. Once a business finds relevance their job is not done; their ongoing mission is to remain relevant……Pivoting is about focus and direction. Growth is pushing down on the accelerator and pivoting is controlling the steering wheel of your business. 

THE SALES PARADOX BY BAIJU SOLANKI

This chapter is all about sales and Baiju shows us how to be better at selling in a sophisticated market. He writes that there are three areas that we need to look at when we think about selling which are:

  • Your mindset – your inner game: seeing sales as serving rather than selling.
  • Your strategy – your game plan: focuing on the three main areas of digital, visibility and authority
  • Your actions – your outer game: taking actions through having conversations which provides more opportunites to gerate sales.

Baiju advises us to shift our mindset and see sales as serving. That is serving a customer to get value. He has titled his section sales paradox because he wants to shift our mindset from thinking about sales as selling to creating an environment where people will willingly want to buy from us.

In answering the question of why people buy, his answers are:

  • to solve a problem
  • to get a shortcut
  • to be protected
  • to enjoy like
  • to provide convenience
  • to make life easier

When we sell to solve these problems we are really serving others.

IT MIGHT BE LONELY AT THE TOP IT CERTAINLY ISN’T QUIET BY KIM-ADELE PLATTS

We have always known it is lonely at the top, but it certainly isn’t quiet. With so much noise, it is hard to find a focus on what is essential.

Here Kim-Adele is challenging us not to forget about focusing on tasks at the expense of people as we lead our organisations. She calls it leading with humanity and this has benefits which include:

  • Becoming more connected to people
  • fostering an inclusive culture
  • Developing more mutually beneficial relationships

To lead with humanity she discussing the skills we need. They are:

  • Being present
  • Really listening
  • Owning our legacy
  • Building a culture
  • Gaining clarity
  • Taking control of our thinking
  • Inspiring and creating a compelling story
  • Building a support network

THERE’S OPPORTUNITY IN EACH HARDSHIP WE FACE BY BEN TAYLOR

If you take only one message from my chapter, it should be the following: there’s opportunity in each and every hardship we face. The full scope of this statement is clear, only if we understand that opportunity resides in unresolved challenges, can we attempt to respond, adapt and exploit this opportunity. These hardships are the pain-points that kickstart action.

Ben is a tech-savvy entrepreneur who markets technology to the marine industry. The marketing strategy he pursues take place mostly in boat shows which have stopped because of the pandemic. Ben has noticed a short and long term mindset in the industry. The short-term strategy is concerned with ongoing costs and so cuts down on investment while the long-term strategy is about observing the changing market to identify where you can invest.

Here’s the long-term approach in one sentence. Shift your marketing systems to match the shift in consumer behaviour. This allows you to continue developing business and to increase market share.

Ben’s message is that we should not let the current situation cause us to pull back. Rather it will require a change in how we see and do things not only to survive in the moment but to prosper in the future. He had to do that and he’s encouraging us to take that approach also.

Through resourcefulness, the future points to great possiblites. Whilst we’re experiencing immense change many jump to pessimistic conclusions. We must challenge oursleves to adapt to the landscape that lies ahead.

HOW WEB PIVOTED AND GREW BY ALEXANDER SEERY

The six most expensive words in business are “we’ve always done it that way” and the total cost is your growth and the success of your business.

Alexander supports people from the public sector to start businesses. He owns a training company that supports members of the public sector in starting and scaling successful businesses.

If you never innovate or change the way you do things, you will never improve  and with this comes a road to mediocrity and empty bank balances.

When the pandemic hit, his business was disrupted since he ran in-person events. Alexander together with his team prepared to make a pivot to survive the pandemic and continue to grow even beyond the pandemic. The area Alexander focused on were:

  • Contingency planning: working out alternatives. Answering questions such as, What if we were locked down for 2 or more years? What would happen if we could never run events again? What if we did not make another sale during the pandemic? They re-framed these questions into ‘how’ questions such as, How will we cope if we are locked down for 2 or more years? How can we run events during the pandemic? How can we make sales during the pandemic? Re-framing questions and thinking like this allowed them to think creatively and come up with solutions.
  • Decision making: ideas came out of the contingency planning and Alexander acted decisively to put some of them into action without haste. 

You must act prudently and without haste. It is better to find yourself wrong quickly than never to move at all because indecision can cost you more than the wrong decision.

  • Customer feedback: The new ideas were shown to potential customers to get feedback. The feedback received, according to Alexander, allowed me to take a more calculated risk for the new product launch.
  • Promotion & signalling: Next they created digital assets to promote and market the new product.
  • Sales: Alexander’s company is a business accelerator. He took the time to qualify each person to quality the right type of person for the accelerator programme.

The business has pivoted in various ways and they now have an online portal, online mentoring masterclasses, Facebook community and accountability coaches.

PIVOT AND GROW TO STAY RELEVANT BY DAVE CLARE

Dave looks at pivoting from a different perspective. He believes businesses should pivot intentionally not because they are forced to.

You pivot and grow. You pivot again and grow some more. You pivot again and grow even more. By design. You continue to evolve  and stay relevant. Simple.

A pivot should be about anticipating what your customers may need in the future and moving in that direction.

If you don’t start anticipating the future needs of your customers, the one thing you can anticipate is not having customers.

Two reasons why Dave believes businesses to pivot are:

  1. To stay ahead of your market.
  2. To move into a new market because you see an opportunity.

When you react, or pivot for survival it is usually because you weren’t paying attention to any of the two reasons and you now have reached crisis stage and need to do something just to survive.

This way of thinking must cause us to ask a key question, how do we build our business so that pivoting to grow is the natural state of our business. This is important in today’s business environment it is those most able to adapt to an ever changing environment that will survive.

Every business model has  a shelf. Has yours expired and you just don’t know it yet?

You cannot keep doing what you are doing and expect to survive, let alone thrive.

When was the last time you sat down and thought about hoiw to put yourself out of business? I assure you; your competitors are thinking about it right now.

NORMALISING CHALLENGE BUILD ON STRENGTHS AND VALUES BY ANDREW PRIESTLEY

Andrew has done a lot of things ranging from starting a folk club at university, to starting a newspaper, creating a family friendly marketing agency, doing business development to business leadership coaching. All these changes represented a pivot for Andrew. 

Notice that my business has pivoted through many iterations but each time I was building on strong skills.

The key mindset to develop to make these kinds of pivots is to normalise change. The difference between two businesses in the same industry facing challenges in the pandemic where one survives and the other doesn’t is that one has normalised change and the other one has not. Take the case of Anthony Robbins known for his energetic face-to-face events. He has now been able to take his events online successfully. 

It’s really about seeing change as an inherent part of the process of running a successful business.

Again, I want to emphasize: normalise challenges. Normalise change.

Phew! I’ve come to the end of the book. I found it hard to review this one, not because it wasn’t a good book but rather because there is so much good information in it particularly relating to the times we are facing right now. Trying to learn from different writers with varying perspectives is no joke. If you can read the book, you won’t regret it.

As I promised, here are three summary lessons from me and at this point I don’t know whether they are my top tips but they are lessons for me nonetheless.

  1. Lesson 1: Focus on the positive: In a situation where almost all the news around us is negative, intentionally look for what is working well and purposely choose to magnify it. Don’t let the bad news drag you down. Be grateful for what you have and choose to see the stars instead of the clouds.
  2. Lesson 2: Develop a pivot mindset: Don’t wait for a crisis to change. A lot of us have been forced to rethink things in the pandemic. But what if being adaptive can become a default mindset that we have. Learn to become flexible so you know when to change as you see opportunities and not when you are forced to.
  3. Lesson 3: Learn, then act now!: A key quality of the pivot mindset is to to keep learning and decide quick. Act now and not later. As one of the writers said, taking no decision can be more costly than the wrong decision. Fail quick, learn from it and act again.

Thank you and I wish you all happy pivoting and growth.


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