Enough about the ‘pivot’. Sarah Davidson, co-founder of global matcha powder brand Matcha Maiden, co-owner of Matcha Mylkbar café in Melbourne, and Seize The Yay podcast host and author, says the best online strategy is to ’embrace the mini pivot’.
Ever since she left her job as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer in 2015, Sarah Davidson has gone by the job title of ‘full-time funtrepreneur’.
Not to downplay the hard work it takes to be an entrepreneur but to remind herself not to take life too seriously.
“I had come from a corporate background that was very focussed on productivity and achievement and success and wealth and measuring your life by very defined metrics. [Unfortunately], that didn’t take into account any joy or pleasure or even aligning what you do with what you care about,” Sarah tells Kochie’s Business Builders.
Now, Sarah prioritises “enjoying the ride” with all its bumps along the way. That includes a global pandemic that has challenged small businesses, like her own, to do things differently both in-person and online.
Major learning: You don’t need one big pivot
During the Melbourne lockdowns, Sarah and husband Nic Davidson’s Matcha Mylkbar had to pivot, and pivot again, and pivot all over again.
“The café arm of our business has suffered the most because it’s venue-based, and it relies on foot traffic,” she shares. “[At first] takeaway and UberEats wasn’t a big part of our business. So first of all, we went online with delivery and takeaway and thought, ‘Let’s just try an online store, let’s make a pancake mix and go online. And some flavours worked, and some didn’t. So we went ahead with the ones that worked.”
As the lockdowns continued, Sarah, who is also known online as Spoonful of Sarah, tweaked the offering.
“Our second mini pivot was, our audience turns out to want UberEats and physical takeaway more than online. The online store was taking 60 per cent of our energy but providing 10 per cent of the revenue. Everything else needed more than 40 per cent of our time to deliver to our customers,” she reveals.
After interviewing founders in Canada, the US, the UK and France for the PayPal podcast The Adaptables, Sarah noticed the most successful businesses to weather the storm of COVID-19 had mastered the ‘mini pivot’.
“Most business owners thought they had to make a pivot. Like, one pivot – let’s go online and then we’ve got our pandemic solution,” she says. “But really, all of the businesses that have continued to thrive have made a pivot every month or every few weeks.
“So I think our exercise has been about re-evaluating every month and being OK with things changing every single month. Because the world’s changed, people’s attitudes have changed, but consumer needs have changed as well. So it’s being flexible and not looking for the pivot, but lots of little pivots. It’s been embracing the mini pivot and letting go of expectations.”
The next pivot you can do from home right now
There are the pivots you make in your business, like deciding to start an online store or offer a new product. And then there are the ones you make outside the business – the social ones that can lead you to new opportunities you hadn’t considered.
“I think the best part about doing business in the digital age is not just that information is accessible, but people are accessible,” Sarah says.
“I found that reaching out to other business owners – there’s so much you can gain from just having a chat. People are so willing to share their knowledge and resources.
“So just reach out, build networks. While you have this time, what a perfect time to go ‘I’m going to spend some time increasing my knowledge base and people capital base’.”
Learn from the hive mind
Here’s one place to start: Sarah is hosting a free online Small Business Bootcamp presented by PayPal over the coming months.
The webinar series will allow you to ask some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs your burning questions about getting your online business in shape.
The first webinar, Optimising Your Online Strategy, takes place on Thursday, August 19, at 1 pm (AEST). Register for free here and on the day, you’ll learn tips to help set your small business up for online success, ways to invest in and promote your online presence, and how to streamline and enhance customer experience and the checkout process.
One of the topics of conversation will be how to optimise your online store to drive sales and return customers in an increasingly crowded market.
“I used to spend hours on the Matcha Maiden site on the copy, thinking if I don’t word this correctly, we’re not going to make a sale. It’s going to be a disaster,” Sarah shares. “And now I think, 90 per cent of people didn’t read all the 75 pages of info about the backstory. They just want their tea.
“I think, however, you can create a feeling, whether it’s through little jokes or puns or nice things that pop up and say ‘Hello’. I think people like when your site isn’t static, and it doesn’t look exactly the same as it did before lockdown.
“I find businesses that have been updating their information in real-time – we know what you guys are looking for, we’re here, we’re talking to you – that makes you feel really valued,” Sarah adds. “You feel like they’re in it with us, we’re all going along for the ride. You do walk away from that transaction and go ‘Yeah, I’ll shop there again’.”
Got a question for Sarah and our expert panel? Register for the free online Small Business Bootcamp now, presented by PayPal.
For specific resources for running an online business, check out PayPal’s Business Resource Centre.
PayPal is a trusted two-sided network which brings together its partners and 392 million active PayPal users, globally (more than nine million in Australia), to provide real solutions for small and medium-sized businesses today and tomorrow.
This content is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with PayPal.
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