Pivoting or making changes to your fundamental business philosophy, is not a new concept in business continuity plans. 

In fact, innovative pivoting at the right time has always been the key to success for many well-established brands. So much so that, over 50% of the Fortune 500 companies were born out of a crisis!

In today’s world, consumer needs are dictated by the virus mandating “Pivot or Perish” across sectors. Therefore, it’s vital to study changes in human behavior & strategically alter your business model. 

Read on to know everything you need to know before you make that big pivot.

Business Pivots in COVID-19, Decoded

Weighed down by the COVID storm? You’re not alone – Entrepreneurs all across the globe are haunted by this question. 

Deena Jacob, CFO, Open on "Pivoting Business Models in the ‘New Normal’ of COVID-19"

Pivoting can be a smart business move or a last-mile effort driven by new behaviours, new needs and even more a need to survive. We break it down for you to make the call:

The Customer Behaviour Driven Pivot 

The underlying rule for any business to scale is to keep adapting their business model to the changing consumer needs. And that’s exactly what customer behaviour driven pivot is all about. 

There are stark changes in human behaviour induced by the pandemic & you need to think on your feet to bridge the gap between your services & customers. 

Say your business offering essentially requires direct contact with your customers, you need to now think about how you can offer the same with social distancing in play. ‘Going-Digital’ is the new norm – If you want groceries delivered to your customers, you have to take your Kirana store online. If you are a home tutor, you’ve to teach your students online or you’ll lose them to someone else who is. 

No one dares to travel on vacation, clearly, in these times. Think of a platform like Airbnb – their core business offering of homestays is clearly struck hard by the pandemic. They were quick to shift gears and switch into offering new experiences like cooking classes, exploring wineries & family baking. Meanwhile, their key offering; homestays are being used to house frontliners & are a source of monthly rent. 

The Relevance Driven Pivot

While businesses are reeling from the onslaught of the pandemic, one thing is for sure – In every crisis, lies an opportunity. For some sectors this means venturing into a whole new space and starting out a new line of business. Now this could either be a temporary pivot or one that lasts the long run.

Deena Jacob, CFO, Open on "Pivoting Business Models in the ‘New Normal’ of COVID-19"

Evaluate the strengths of your resources – people, processes, skills, capacity, assets – find complimentary ‘rising needs’ in the new normal and put your best strengths to use. Additionally, this could also be done as a warning shot. Your business is still standing strong but hey no one knows what’s up ahead in the path to the ‘new normal’. Better be prepared than sorry, right?

For example the partnership between Rapido & essential suppliers like BigBasket and Big Bazaar to aid last-mile deliveries is clearly one that is going ‘the need trumps want’ way. The chilling effects of the pandemic have prompted them to steer in a direction that lets them put their core assets to play to meet relevant needs. Partnership between WoW Momo! and Cafe Coffee Day is another very interesting collaboration that combines the network USP of CCD and the brand recall that WoW Momo! holds.

The Opportunity Driven Pivot

COVID-19 as an external catalyst presents businesses with a whole new range of opportunities that were never expected to exist or scale in the books before. There are new consumer needs that exist now due to the pandemic. If you get in the game at the right time & deliver these needs to the required target audience you can be looking at an entirely new temporary or permanent additional revenue stream for your business. 

Pivoting Business Models in the ‘New Normal’ of COVID-19

There’s a huge opportunity for example to launch Virtual Fitness. While various players have tried to do it previously, now’s the time to go all out to fulfill such opportunistic needs of consumers. Netflix party is another classic example of an offering that is opportunity driven.

Pivoting with a heart – Humanity in the times of COVID-19

While you weigh in on the risks versus rewards and pivot your business to maximize income, nothing tugs at our hearts like an act of kindness. 

It’s heartwarming to see giants like Dyson & Ford to use their assets, expertise, and capacity to manufacture ventilators. Another example of a temporary pivot with a heart is one where Malayala Manorama, a local publishing house, is distributing vegetable seeds along with their magazine copies. In fact, some would even point to great permanent pivots in the whole process.

We’re talking about businesses that are pivoting to prioritize people and not the numbers. Also, the ones that are creating conditions for promising collaborations and moving towards joint ventures in this sustainability journey. 

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted – sheer grit, solidarity and the relentless drive to back the business community as a whole will help you win hearts and rise up from the crisis as a true blood hero; Nevertheless, the key to thrive is to pivot for a passionate reason and not just to survive.


Deena Jacob

Deena Jacob

Anchoring finance function | Co-Founder & CFO at Open