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Pivoting – it’s not just in Silicon Valley

Pivoting – it’s not just in Silicon Valley

Pivoting – it’s not just in Silicon Valley

By Aoibheann Rogers

The term “pivot” was coined in 2009 by Eric Ries, however transforming a business model has been a core element of company strategy for centuries.

Silicon Valley start ups are known for their major “pivots”: Instagram started as a check-in app called Burbn which allowed users to post pictures of the meet-ups: it was too complicated so the founders honed in on one aspect of the app that users were focused on – the photo sharing. The ecommerce platform Shopify was built by its founders for their own snowboarding online shop: the shop failed but the platform was hugely successful. Many non-technical companies have also pivoted their business model; Suzuki moved from the Japanese silk industry to the automotive industry in the mid 20th century and Starbucks expanded from selling espresso makers and beans to a coffee bar experience.

It doesn’t matter how small or large your business is, a pivot may help you further realise your business goals.

The authors of the Grow Movement Uganda Study define a pivot (a marketing strategy innovation) as “a deliberate shift in how some business model components are designed to create and deliver value for customers”.

The 8 types of pivot

A pivot can take many different forms, these include:

  1. New Offering Pivot: Keeping the same customers, to solve a different pain point or address an unresolved need
  2. Narrow Offering Pivot: Reducing the number of products, services or featured offered.
  3. Broad Offering Pivot: Expanding the number of products, services or features offered.
  4. Advanced Offering Pivot: Using a new technology to provide a more effective, efficient or superior offering.
  5. Target Segment Pivot: Keeping the same offering but switching sales and marketing efforts towards a new group of customers.
  6. Go-To-Market Pivot: Changing the channel, method or intermediary for getting your offering to customers.
  7. Revenue Model Pivot: Changing the source of collecting money from customers or a new approach to charging money.
  8. Mass Market Pivot: Reconfiguring to create a more standardised offering that appeals to mass market.

How do you know when to pivot?

A pivot can be triggered by learning new information, experimentation, new team members, or by engaging a business consultant. The best way to know if you need to pivot is to truly understand your customers and your product or service business model. A deep analysis of this will tell you if you can improve your business goals by adapting one or both of these things.

You can ask yourself questions based around the 3Cs of marketing (Customer, Company, Competition):

Customers
o Who are they?
o How do they use our product or service?
o What needs do they have?
o Can we improve our customer interactions?

Company
o What is our offering? Is it easy to understand?
o Can our offering be made more attractive?
o Can our offering be extended to other customer needs?

Competitors
o What are the market conditions?
o How else can customer needs be met?
o What trends are impacting our marketplace?

What does this have to do with Grow Movement?

Grow Movement connects entrepreneurs in Africa with volunteer business consultants (VCs) from all over the world. Our VCs mentor and advise the entrepreneurs over skype, email and phone. In 2015 and 2016, Grow Movement was part of a Randomised Controlled Trial run by researchers at Stamford, Chicago Booth and London Business School to study the effects of one-on-one remote business consulting on the strategic marketing efforts of entrepreneurs. You can read about our results soon!

Links & References

3 August 2019

Aoibheann Rogers is a marketing and business professional who has worked in Australia, Asia, UK and Africa in a variety of functions including Sales & Marketing, Corporate Strategy and Commercial Project Management. Aoibheann is a Trustee of Grow Movement, having joined in 2015 as a Volunteer Consultant during the Uganda600 program, working with an inspiring young entrepreneur named Jesca.

She is a strong believer in enabling people to help themselves and their communities by providing the right frameworks and support. Aoibheann holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and Asian Studies (Indonesian) from Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia.

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Remote Business Coaching in Africa – An Exciting Research Study

Remote Business Coaching in Africa – An Exciting Research Study

Remote Business Coaching in Africa – An Exciting Research Study

By Zoe Lawson

Grow Movement’s work has been proven to be effective in alleviating poverty through a recent academic study.

The study examines the impact of remote business coaching on small business sales in Uganda, using the gold-standard research methodology known as randomised controlled trial (RCT) or Randomised Controlled Field Experiment (RCFE). You can read more about these types of study in our blog post from May 2019. The research is important in demonstrating, through academic investigation, the power of Grow Movement’s work and its ability to help African entrepreneurs grow their businesses and ultimately, improve the lives of local people and their families.

So, let’s start by re-capping what Grow Movement is all about.

What is Grow Movement and How Does it Work?

Grow Movement is a charitable organisation, funded by the British Government, charitable trusts and donations. Set up in 2009, its principal aim is to alleviate poverty by helping African entrepreneurs build their businesses. Grow Movement works in countries classified by the World Bank as ‘Least Developed’ and at the current time, is active in Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda.

It works by linking local entrepreneurs with international business consultants, who provide mentorship, professional guidance and business skills. Consultants are volunteers with strong academic and professional backgrounds in business, and their services are free of charge to the recipient. Mentoring taps into the power of digital communication technologies so that neither consultant nor mentee need leave their country. Most sessions are conducted using a mixture of Skype, WhatsApp and telephone, often with follow-up by email.
Entrepreneurs are selected by local, in-country partners who identify suitable small businesses that may be suitable for the program.

What Did the Research Study Investigate?

The over-arching goal of the research was to understand the impact of remote business coaching, provided by Grow Movement Volunteer Consultants, on the marketing strategies and sales of emerging-market enterprises. Marketing strategy innovation is a deliberate change in a firm’s business model that creates and delivers value for customers. Also referred to as a pivot, you can read more about this in our upcoming blog post dedicated to the subject. Remote business coaching was hypothesized by the researchers as an intervention that could plausibly induce such pivots. To better understand pivoting and its relationship with performance, a field experiment using the RCT/RCFE method was conducted.

Three key questions were postulated by the researchers:
(1) What is the effect of remote business coaching on a firm’s sales?
(2) How does this effect occur – and does it stimulate changes in the firm’s marketing strategy?
(3) Do entrepreneurs benefit more from remote business coaching when they are less strategic in their decision-making?

We’ll explore the answers in a later blog post, but for now let’s consider some of the context and setting of the study. Firstly, it is important to note that small firms run by founders/entrepreneurs are the focus of this research. Although the study authors acknowledge that the intervention is relevant to entrepreneurs globally, they remark that is likely to be particularly beneficial to those in emerging markets, where they make up 60% of jobs.

They implemented the field trial with entrepreneurs in Uganda to identify the causal impact of Skype-aided business coaching on strategies and sales. A sample of 930 Ugandan businesses were randomly assigned to a control group that received no intervention and a treatment group offering remote coaching (in the form of free, one-to-one business coaching via Skype videoconferencing, mobile calls and emails). During every two-week module, the entrepreneur virtually ‘met’ and interacted with their coach to analyse the business and implement new strategies.

So, what did the study find? Stay tuned to our forthcoming blog posts to discover the results of the research!

3 August 2019

Zoe Lawson

Zoe Lawson is a social entrepreneur with an interest in translating innovations for international development. She has a PhD in biological chemistry and an MBA, and has been involved with Grow Movement since 2015 as a volunteer consultant and supporter.

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