March President’s Message

NEW! NAWBO Member Referral Program
February 25, 2019
2019 Spring Membership Drive
March 4, 2019
NEW! NAWBO Member Referral Program
February 25, 2019
2019 Spring Membership Drive
March 4, 2019

The Power of Pivot

Last week our NAWBO round table* had its annual retreat over two-full days of a packed agenda. This meeting included relationship building, which we believe is important to get to know those members new to our group, as well as a deep dive into specific business challenges, for which each of us needed strategic and bold advice in order to continue to thrive and better serve our clients.

The need to pivot came up in every conversation throughout our two days, regardless of where we were in life and business.  This word really resonated with me because a week prior to our retreat “pivot” was a focus by one company at the Columbus Foundation where NAWBO Columbus was recognized among more than a dozen organizations as a national “Number One.” (NAWBO Columbus is the largest, or #1, chapter nationwide for the third year running!)

The takeaway that resounded with me at the Foundation event was a question that the CEO of COTA specifically posed to its own organization when faced with explosive growth and had to pivot suddenly.   CEO Joanna Pinkerton asked us:  

“How do you handle 78% growth overnight?  How can your team handle this [growth] because you have no choice but to pivot?”

COTA pivoted successfully to be named Outstanding Transportation System by the American Public Transportation Association, when in the U.S. when many cities’ transportation systems are in decline.

If you put yourself in that position of not only dreaming of growth, or needing growth to stay relevant, but truly imagining it’s happening now, and then having some plan in place to handle the potential growth, it’s exciting and scary all at once to realize that.  It will either make you or break you as we have seen with many companies (track the Fast 50 changes from year to year for examples of this) over the years.

So how do you handle the unexpected and pivot?

It’s embracing the vision and mission as a team, and according to COTA, it’s also by being nimble.  My thoughts: It’s ensuring people are in the right roles. It’s knowing your values and how they are embodied through the people in charge of your company brand and your customer care.  It’s creating more depth on your teams and learning to move beyond mistakes to put the best practices and systems into place, with a focus on the client and end-user experience. It’s planning for the “what ifs”, and it’s also always having an eye to the future.  We do this exceptionally well in Columbus, which is why it’s an exciting time to live and work here, and to be a business owner who contributes to this vibe of innovation and ability to pivot.

For our roundtable group composed of all sizes of business (1 employee to 75 employees for example), the need to pivot due to unexpected changes in our businesses ranged from:

  • Delegating tasks by learning to let go by trusting others for their expertise
  • Immediately adding headcount to better serve more people in the community
  • Adding service lines to continue to innovate and expand nationally
  • Bringing services in-house versus contracting
  • Being more strategic on business development to spread the mission internationally
  • Formally operationalizing the business to handle the impending and exciting growth
  • Changing hiring practices to align employee “fit” with company values

NAWBO Columbus has pivoted and grown various ways repeatedly over the past several years to more than double our membership, to partner with more and more organizations which enables our outreach, and even to change laws in Ohio for women-owned business through our public policy efforts.      

It’s exciting and humbling to be surrounded by women business owners like you, community partnerships spearheaded by men and women like you, so we all continue to experience the awesome impact of pivoting we all do across our community.  

Cheers to you, change agents and nimble dream creators! Remember, you are #1 in your own right and let’s celebrate that together.

*Round tables are a member benefit and consist of forming a cohort group of 5-8 non-competing women business owners who meet monthly to provide advice, suggestions, and support with the objective of helping each business grow and thrive.