How to Turn a Pivot into a Dream Business
Is your business in need of a pivot? Are there some changes you want or need to do, but it’s been so overwhelming you’re wondering if you should just quit? Well, that’s normal sister. Pivots are natural and GOOD for your business. Learn from my friend and her experience with how to turn a pivot into a dream business.
This is a special blog post because it’s all about an interview I had with my dear friend Mackenna Rowley from Piep. She and her husband own the cutest plant shop in Riverside, California. She’s made a ton of pivots over the last year due to Covid and now she has a business she never thought possible. They were kind of forced into these changes just so they could stay in business, but now she’s so grateful they happened because she has a new found vision and confidence for her “little” plant shop.
I’m all about building a business that lasts. Sometimes that means pivoting directions for your company. Maybe that looks like changing the name of your business, switching your focus in your podcast, or stopping one sales method and trying a brand new one to reach more of your customers. Find out what Mackenna Rowley from Piep did when she learned how to turn a pivot into a dream business.
What Piep Looked Like Before and After the Pandemic
- Small storefront in Riverside, California
- 6-7 employees
- Main source of income for Mackenna and her husband
- Website existed, but was not up to date
- Still a small storefront in Riverside, California (by choice)
- Gained experience in shipping, supply chain, local pickup, and customer service
- Surviving after a explosion of competition in plant shops
- Beautiful and functional website(s)
- Launched a new plant educational program for anyone interested
What Happened in Between: How to Turn a Pivot into a Dream Business
Pivot #1: Closed Piep altogether
Mackenna and her staff were freaking out when Covid first hit the country and the government issued a shutdown. They closed the storefront within a week of Covid coming. The weeks of being closed down felt like sheer terror. When they told all their staff they would be closing, everyone stood in a circle and just cried. They prayed together trying to find comfort because they had so many big, unanswered questions. Will they make it? Will they reopen?
This was especially terrifying for Mackenna and her husband because, as mentioned earlier, Piep was their family’s main source of income. This was not some side hustle they did for fun. This was their livelihood. Not knowing what was going to happen was almost paralyzing…but Mackenna knew she had to keep moving forward.
Pivot #2: Introduced local pickup and shipping
Mackenna knew they still wanted to do something to keep their shop open during the pandemic, and since things were so unknown of when they would open their storefront again, they tried their hand at shipping products and doing local pickup.
It’s a good thing they did because the want for house plants exploded. People wanted greenery to make their houses more cozy and enjoyable now that they were all stuck at home. Whether it was for their own pleasure or wanting to add a nice element to a Zoom background, it felt like hundreds more people were buying house plants.
Here’s a simple overview of Piep’s sales stats to help give perspective. Piep had its best month ever in February, pre-Covid, shut down in March, and in April it could not keep up. Logistically, they had no idea how to keep up, how many people to hire, and how to even house enough product.
They ended up getting a warehouse to house all their products, hired most of their staff back–and more–and kept learning together as they kept moving forward. Can you imagine running a business that just explodes out of nowhere while implementing sales strategies at the same time? Mackenna described it as climbing a mountain of glass covered in butter and as she’s climbing it, it keeps getting taller.
The key here is Mackenna kept pivoting and learning through each one. She gained a better idea of what she really wanted for her business and what she wanted it to look like. She was learning how to turn a pivot into a dream business.
Pivot #3: Strengthened online presence
It was only natural for Piep to get a stronger online presence since they were solely a remote business (temporarily). They revamped their company website and even published a second website for another pivot they made just recently. (You can learn more about that in Pivot #6).
Although they made it, this transformation to being an online company was pretty challenging. They had to figure out pricing, how long each product could be stored (plants aren’t exactly the easiest thing to store and ship), etc. On top of that they were having to photograph between 15 and 40 products every week in order to post it on their website.
Although they made this transition successfully, Mackenna and her team learned very quickly this wasn’t their passion and they did not want to keep doing things this way. So, she made another pivot.
Pivot #4: Reopened the storefront
Piep reopened in October at a limited capacity. Mackenna knew she didn’t want to reopen until they knew there wasn’t a chance of them being closed again. Because of that, they waited what seemed like a long time to reopen. Mackenna just wanted to be sure they were doing what’s best for their business and not reacting to what other people or businesses were saying or doing.
Having people back in the plant shop reminded Mackenna where her passion lies. She loves that in-person interaction where she can get to know people and their stories and connect them to a product they will absolutely love. You can’t have that experience through remote selling like shipping and local pickup.
Pivot #5: Stopped local pickup and shipping
They slowly turned things back to what they were before. As Mackenna kept increasing Piep’s in-person service, they decreased local pickup and shipping and then ended those two services altogether.
Looking back through the pivots they took, Mackenna and her husband noticed where most of their income and expenses were coming from. This also played a role in deciding to go back to just having the storefront. They realized this is how their business thrives. They could keep pivoting into their dream business now that they created this firm foundation.
Pivot #6: Created an educational program for anyone interested
Piep just launched a new branch to their business where they provide educational programs and material for plant parents. This is a passion of Mackenna’s where she can teach people and connect with them through plant care. It probably would’ve taken Mackenna years longer to find out this niche she loves. She started this new exciting journey sooner thanks to (Covid?), but also to her learning how to turn a pivot into a dream business.
You can visit their website here to learn more about joining this amazing opportunity! It’s so fun to learn more about plants and to come to a place where you don’t have to feel guilty about killing a houseplant. She is your plant guru!
Top 3 Lessons Learned from Turning a Pivot into a Dream Business
Lesson #1: Spend less time asking questions like “Why did this happen?” and more time figuring out how to keep going with what you know and the resources you have.
Lesson #2: Being flexible with change will help turn your business into what you really want. Trying new things is where you gain the experience and the vision of what your business could really be.
Lesson #3: Make strict boundaries on how you will spend your time. If your thoughts do not serve you, push them out and find the ones that do. Find what is causing the harmful thoughts and take those activities out of your routine.
Mackenna touched on how she overcame the specific challenge of not worrying about her new found competitors. At first, she would scroll through their Instagram and compare her business to theirs. That’s where lesson #3 came in. She set her boundaries and stopped letting her take her to a place that wasn’t helpful for her or her business. There’s something Mackenna said in reference to this that was just so good, I have to quote it directly! Check this out:
“There may be other plant shops that sell more than I do, who can reach more people or have more followers, but I really understand my customers. I understand their pain points, fears, and goals. It took years of experience to get to this point. That’s something the newer competitors don’t have.”
If Mackenna and her business isn’t an example of learning how to turn a pivot into a dream business, I don’t know who is. She struggled and grew so much in that year after Covid hit, and I’m sure several of you have similar stories. I’d love to hear about them! Reach out to me on Instagram @iammichellegifford so we can get to know each other.
Also, I have some new content I just released that will help you make the changes you want and your business needs if you’re interested in having any help in making some pivots for your business. I want you to have a business built to last. You can check out the different bundles here.