Take Advantage of Synergies to Pivot Your Small Business

Undertaking a sweeping change of direction for your small business plan can be overwhelming. But pivoting your company doesn’t mean that you have to re-invent the wheel. Often, you can take advantage of synergies that will make the process both more efficient and more effective.

To do so, keep these steps in mind:

  1. Take a look at the strategies you’ve proposed to execute your pivot and break each one down into a list of detailed action steps you need to take.

    This list should be as specific and comprehensive as possible.

  2. Review the action plan you’ve created by putting a check beside the items that you can accomplish using company resources or staff, thus taking advantage of existing synergies.

  3. Put an X beside the items that really do feel as if they’ll require you to re-invent the wheel — or in this case, do something the company has never done before.

  4. Look at the items marked with Xs and consider how your company’s existing strengths can be used to make the change as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    Think about resources outside your company, too, that might create synergies that can make the task a little easier — good relationships with vendors, for instance, or a stable of independent contractors you already work with.

  5. If you think there may be synergies you haven’t tapped, consider sponsoring a brainstorming session with a cross section of the company's staff.

    During the session, identify synergies that will help you implement your action plan.

Not long ago a company that made its reputation on top-notch fishing equipment began to consider dramatically broadening its catalog to include sports equipment of many kinds, from swimming goggles to soccer balls. Some of the firm’s execs worried that the change would erode the company’s reputation for quality.

They held a brainstorming session to strategize ways to avoid that pitfall. The marketing folks successfully argued that the company’s reputation for excellence offered a valuable synergy. They designed ads for the new product line that conveyed the message that the products were changing but the company’s dedication to quality remained the same.

Consider a different example: A regional orchestra faced hard times during the recent economic downturn. When ticket sales slumped, the orchestra made a dramatic decision. Instead of charging upfront for tickets, the group began to offer free tickets, encouraging people to make voluntary donations instead. The orchestra’s marketing director had already hatched a plan to create collateral items like T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items emblazoned with the group’s logo.

Instead of directly selling the items, the orchestra decided to offer them as a thank you to people who donated $25 or more. The result: Many more seats were filled with people attracted to the idea of a “free” concert. The orchestra’s coffers filled with donations, and the group’s logo began to appear everywhere. Now that’s synergy.

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