Redefining your business direction as an SME in South Africa

Redefining your business direction as an SME in South Africa

In the dynamic world of business, recognising when your current offerings fall short of market demands can be a crucial turning point. Adaptability has become the key to survival and success for South African SMEs. While the word "pivot" has been overused, the concept it represents remains essential – the ability to change direction and reinvent oneself.  

Sometimes, a significant change in your business's direction becomes necessary to achieve financial success and ensure sustainability. This transformative process, entails a shift in mindset, product or service offerings, and market positioning. However, the way you execute this transformation can ultimately determine the outcome of your venture.  

Understanding the Essence of Pivoting  

The concept of "pivoting" centres around the idea of reorienting your business to meet the evolving needs of the market. When your existing products or services no longer resonate with your target audience, it becomes imperative to adapt and redefine your business direction. By doing so, the primary objective is to generate increased revenue and secure your business's continued existence. This requires a profound shift in perspective, a reassessment of your offerings, and a strategic repositioning within the market. Once you’ve decided to pivot your business there are a couple of things to consider. When deciding to pivot your business, you’ll need to consider these key aspects:  

Recognise Market Dissonance:  

Identify the gaps between your current offerings and market demands. Understanding where your products or services fall short will provide the foundation for your strategic shift.

Embrace a Growth Mindset:

Adopt a forward-thinking mentality that acknowledges the need for change and embraces the potential for growth. A willingness to step outside your comfort zone and explore new possibilities is vital during this transformative process.

Reimagine Your Product or Service:

Evaluate your existing offerings and explore innovative ways to modify or reinvent them. This could involve incorporating new features, repackaging, or diversifying your range to better align with market needs.  

Define a New Market Position:

Reposition your business within the market to target underserved customer segments or capitalize on emerging trends. This involves refining your messaging, branding, and marketing strategies to effectively communicate your unique value proposition.

Seek Customer Feedback:

Engage with your target audience to gain insights into their preferences and pain points. Actively listening to your customers will provide invaluable guidance as you refine your products, services, and overall business approach.

Iterate and Adapt:

Pivoting is an iterative process that requires constant evaluation and adjustment. Continuously monitor market trends, assess customer feedback, and adapt your strategies accordingly to remain agile and responsive to evolving dynamics.

Embrace the Winds of Change:

Change is inevitable, and businesses that resist it are at risk of being left behind. Embracing change opens up a world of possibilities, allowing SMEs to tap into new markets, respond to shifting consumer demands, and explore untapped revenue streams. By continuously monitoring the market, identifying emerging trends, and being willing to adapt, your business can remain competitive and resilient in the face of uncertainty.

Identifying Opportunities for Transformation:

Rather than using the term "pivot," let's focus on "strategic evolution." To embark on a successful transformation, start by evaluating your existing business model, products, or services. Consider the following questions:

  • Are there emerging trends or unmet needs that align with your expertise?
  • Can you leverage your core competencies in new ways?
  • Are there underserved customer segments you could target?
  • How can technology be integrated to improve efficiency or enhance customer experiences?
  • By answering these questions, you can uncover potential opportunities for growth and change.

Diversification: Expanding Your Horizons:  

One effective strategy for SMEs to adapt and thrive is through diversification. Explore new product or service offerings that complement your existing portfolio, allowing you to reach a broader customer base. For example, a restaurant could introduce a meal delivery service, or a clothing store could expand its online presence. By diversifying your revenue streams, you can reduce the risk of relying heavily on a single product or market segment.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

In times of change, collaboration can be a powerful catalyst for success. Seek out partnerships with other businesses, both within your industry and outside it, to leverage shared resources, expertise, and networks. Collaborative efforts can open doors to new markets, create innovative solutions, and generate mutual growth. Furthermore, partnerships can be a gateway to accessing additional funding opportunities, including joint ventures, grants, or investor support.

What role will business funding play in pivoting your business?  

As you embark on your strategic evolution, accessing adequate funding is crucial. There are various options available to South African SMEs, so it’s best to compare offers from different lenders to find the best finance suited to your needs right now. Prepare all the necessary documentation, comprehensive business plan and financial projections to increase your chances of approval.

In a world where change is constant, SMEs in South Africa must embrace the concept of strategic evolution. By adapting to market trends, diversifying offerings, forging collaborations, and accessing appropriate funding, businesses can thrive in even the most challenging environments. Remember, the key to success lies in your willingness to change and explore new horizons. Seize the opportunity to transform your business and unlock its full potential in the ever-evolving marketplace.

Information adapted from Merchant Capital’s blog post: How to pivot your SME.

More Reading


When is the Right Time to Apply for Funding?


Decoding the 2024 South African Budget: What it Means for SMEs

Navigating Tax Penalties in South Africa

Navigating Tax Penalties in SA: leveraging business loans to stay ahead

Alternative finance: exploring non-traditional routes for small business funding

Alternative finance: 5 non-traditional routes for SME funding

How to prepare your small business for the new year

How to prepare your small business for the new year

5 common myths about unsecured business loans

Debunking 5 common myths about unsecured business loans

5 Major Purchase Order Pitfalls and Solutions

5 Major Purchase Order Pitfalls and Solutions for South African SMEs

FundingHub case study - female business owner

FundingHub case study: Female business owner - BuyIt

Purchase Order Funding vs Invoice Discounting

Purchase Order Funding vs Invoice Discounting

Small business tax refresher course

Tax Tune-Up: A short refresher on all things small business tax

Startup vs established business in South Africa

What’s the difference between an established business and a startup in South Africa?

Redefining your business direction as an SME in South Africa

Redefining your business direction as an SME in South Africa

Company registration

Everything you need to know about CIPC company registration

How to create a strong online presence for your SME

How to create a strong online presence for your SME

What are the solar tax incentives for businesses in South Africa?

What are the solar tax incentives for businesses in South Africa?

Risks and rewards of a secured business loan

Risks & rewards of a secured business loan

End of year checklist for small businesses

End-of-year checklist for small businesses

Secured business loan

What assets can I use to get a secured business loan?

Merchant Cash Advance

What transactions can be used to get a Merchant Cash Advance?

SME retail trends

SME retail trends making waves

SME evolution

The evolution of SMEs & business finance

Tactics for SME retailers

How can SA retailers catapult their businesses before the busy season?

Property Backed Loan

Who offers property backed loans in SA?

How long does PO funding take?

Purchase Order Funding – how long does it take?

POF lenders in South Africa

Top 10 Purchase Order Funding Lenders in South Africa


10 ways wholesalers can increase sales in South Africa

Budget Speech 2022 South Africa - impact on SMEs

Budget Speech 2022 - the highlights and setbacks for SMEs

A man wearing two different colour shoes

How to Compare Business Loans

A picture of a credit report page on a table with a pot plant.

Business Credit Score vs Personal Credit Score: The Differences & Importance Explained

The word gig economy on a board

The Gig Economy: Why Small Businesses Should Care