Showcase: Episode 8 - Pondering the Pivot


With so many Australian businesses in a Covid-19 holding pattern, is now the time right for digital transformation? Listen to the ponderings of two facilitators from the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, Tony Shannon and Rob Olver, who believe even a small change can create a huge impact for your customers.

If there’s a buzzword in business circles at the moment, it’s “pivot”.  In fact, it’s already feeling a little clichéd.  Everyone’s talking about it. Yet, for any business currently frozen by a situation beyond its control, pondering the pivot is definitely worthy of a good hard think over a few coffees.

And the conversation starter you might be looking for, can be found within the expertise of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Between them, Tony Shannon and Rob Olver have decades of frontline experience, coaching hundreds of small and medium businesses to alter their mindset and break free from tired fundamentals that are simply not working anymore.

Both agree that even the smallest digital transformation can result in a pivot with a massive outcome, and in some cases, a business may even stumble into brand new markets, almost by accident. Tony Shannon says everything still comes back to having strong customer relationships, and listening to those customers.

“The best thing a business can do right now, during this COVID-19 period, is to get its operational house in order, and then think how would I build this business, now, if I was starting it now, which many people are effectively being forced to do,” says Tony.

Just like the Gold Coast staging company left without any concerts and events to service. They pivoted their skill base in stage building, to start producing flat-pack assembled desks for kids, thus solving the sibling squabbles over space on the family dining table for home schooling.

Tony believes it’s critical a business use this time to get back to basics, like solid cash flow management practices, constant brand building and reinforcement, and find new customer problems to solve. Find the courage to reach out to other business owners, even those outside of your own sectors and industries, and see what ideas can be “borrowed, or enhanced.”

Australia has enjoyed the good times of almost 30 years of back-to-back growth, and Rob Olver reckons this current enforced reflection has exposed us to be a little flabby. He believes in years to come, businesses will speak about this time as being a chance to rediscover our entrepreneurial spirit.

“We’ll definitely talk in the terms of pre- COVID and post- COVID. I think the space between a business and their customers is completely changed forever, and in my mind, there’s no going back,” says Rob.

Both of these digital business facilitators are happy to sit right in the trenches with their Entrepreneurs’ Programme customers. Their focus isn’t just on short term survival strategies, but also long-term trajectories. Digital transformation is a key component of that, but for anyone thinking it’s a path paved with huge development costs and expensive new software, you’ll be surprised it’s no more than solving one single problem.  

If the taxi industry had of just gone, hey, let’s fix a passenger’s problem of having to hassle around for cash or card to pay a fare, then Uber would never have needed to exist. So you don’t have to solve every problem for every customer. Digital can allow you to improve service so substantially, that it makes it look like you’ve revolutionised the entire business.

Tony Shannon

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme offers a broad range of industry experts to help businesses create a roadmap to recovery and to build resilience for any future crisis. Networking is another key focus, with Rob Olver joking he feels like he’s part of a dating app site connecting customers and supply chains to move the huge amount of distressed stock that’s in the marketplace.

“The most perfect business to operate in current conditions, is one that is completely online. Your channels are optimised, the customer is completely understood and your core asset is a team of creative developers working on branding and market interest,” says Rob.

So does either Tony or Rob have that elusive business clairvoyance that boldly foresees beyond the next 6 months? Tony’s not going there.

“It’s really quite possible everything will flip again. And customers will get sick of having stuff delivered and will want to be back queueing at the shops. The fog really hasn’t lifted enough yet, to see what’s truly happening.” 

Find out more about digital transformation, and join the Entrepreneurs’ Programme to grow, innovate and commercialise your business.