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Business Pivoting Through the Eyes of a Kenyan Medical Student Cum Entrepreneur

Linda Biomdo: The medical student that brings home the idea of pivoting in business

Business pivoting is a strategy that entails turning one feature of the product into the product itself. The result is a simpler and more streamlined offering. This strategy entails changing the direction of a business when one realizes the current product and/ or service offering isn’t meeting the needs of the market. Companies have, in various instances, defined business pivoting as a dramatic shift in direction. Before we get right into the details, let’s take a look at some of the most famous businesses that pulled off this strategy.

Some famous companies that pivoted their businesses

Netflix: Netflix was an entertainment company that initially delivered DVDs into customers’ mailboxes. Really? You may ask. Yes, that’s true. While you binge-watch and enjoy a massive platform of movies and series options, have it at the back of your mind that Netflix is one of the companies that saw the trends in the entertainment market and took a drastic, strategic shift.

They saw the offing of the sea they called their market; an offing that demanded change, and they adapted through business pivoting.

Twitter: Fun-fact machine bleeping! Did you know that Twitter was originally known as “Odeo”, and it was a platform for podcasts? Twitter, now a mega platform for social and political engagements and sharing of opinions, later reinvented from being a podcast platform. That was in 2006.

Burbn: Remember Burbn? Chances are that you don’t even know that app. That’s because it changed its name to Instagram when the developers observed that most users were more interested in its then unique photo sharing feature. They thus declared Burbn as a ‘false start’. Following the pivot, Instagram was bought by Facebook for one billion dollars and is now worth 100 billion dollars.

Read more about companies that took the pivoting strategy

Sometimes, instead of closing shop altogether, pivoting has been used as the last formula technique. The Hail Mary. In this article, we shall close in our focus on Linda Biomdo, a 4th Year Medical student at Moi University who also runs Dissect Restaurant. Her’s is a great example of successful business pivoting that is close to home.

The winds of change will always blow, whether our businesses are prepared to sail upwind or not. The changes demand that we adjust, and yes, the willing and smart business strategists get it done! Click To Tweet
Linda Biomdo: The medical student that brings home the idea of pivoting in business

It’s the 4th of November 2020. Most students are still in their home cradle, or with their friends. Some are hustling as they wait for the government to announce the resumption of physical learning as they did to the final year students in all tertiary institutions, in October of 2020. Linda Biomdo, together with her then two partners, find an opportune time to open up their new cake business. The advantage they have is that one of them was a baker. She taught the rest of the team how to bake. Soon, their vision became reality, and Dissect became the name of their cake business.

New beginnings, and hard work to grow her cake business

The partners had an option to seek financial aid. They, however, chose to go solo by self-funding. No loans.

“I’m pretty sure if we would have asked our parents to chip in they would have, and we would have probably started with really good money. But we didn’t. We wanted the business to grow its own wings’’, Linda says.

The first week of business was tough on them. They knocked on every door, traipsing different paths and streets of Eldoret town as they pitched their treats.

”I found out that introducing myself as a student was a golden sales card. It gave me leverage, and people would buy from me just to support me. Looks like everyone wants to support a student, you know. And considering that most buyers were women; mums and aunts, they just couldn’t resist my offer. They would buy cakes for their children, or someone they knew. That really helped boost our sales.”

The second week in, the business was a satisfactory one for the trio. More and more orders kept coming in. Linda and her partners felt that the time was ripe for them to employ their first staff. The employee would manage the stall where they kept their cakes for dispatch upon orders.

Soon, lady luck smiled down on them. A client working at the county offices gave them business. It opened doors for them to supply their cakes to county offices for the staff to have a bite with their tea. However, even though everything seemed to be going well, Linda still had to identify gaps in the market and take advantage of them.

Foreseeing demands of the market and readjusting

Linda foresaw that the oncoming intake of first years would create larger demand. She sussed out the possibilities of expanding, under the light of the fact that Covid-19 had led to the closure of food stalls within the vicinage of the school. That meant that demand for food within campus would be higher. That was a gap that needed her and her partners to fill. Their businesses needed to pivot from being a cakes business to being a “fully-fledged” restaurant. The ability to think and re-think their business soon saw them expand.

“With many students now eating from our restaurant, we soon expanded and took more space at an unoccupied stall that closed down,” Linda tells us.

“I have come to realize that when it comes to your consumables, there are products that make little to no profit. But they just have to be there for customers to come, because customers love them. We kept the cakes because they attracted students, and in the process of coming for the cakes they tried our other food and loved it”.

‘The only constant in life is change”

Linda’s lessons on business

With the change in business direction came the introduction of powerful lessons; lessons Linda shared with us:

Change begins from within: She learned how to loosen up her rigidity to improve her flexibility. Moreover, the change from a cakes-only business to a full restaurant first started from within, before it was actualised.

Online marketing strategies work: Linda concedes that social media has given her business a big push. This stretches from online advertising via WhatsApp groups and statuses, to using the more influential students to put in a good word for her products and services on their social platforms.

Improving employer/employee relationship: She learned how to listen to the emotions behind her employee’s words, and being attentive to their concerns. This bolstered their trust in her.

Also read: How to Leverage Your Skills to Build a Successful Services Business

Creating rapport with the customers: The old saying that the customer is king is true, as Linda came to realize. She has learned to deliberately listen to her customers and create a good rapport with them.

Learning to create a healthy balance between her medical studies and her business: While what took her to school was her studies, Linda had to still run her restaurant. It took a lot of discipline to create a healthy balance between her studies and, as we call it in the streets, her hustle.

The winds of change will always blow, whether our businesses are prepared to sail upwind or not. The changes demand that we adjust, and yes, the willing and smart business strategists get it done!

Also read: Henry Onyango on Failing Your Way to Success

5 responses to “Business Pivoting Through the Eyes of a Kenyan Medical Student Cum Entrepreneur”

  1. Millicent Barasa says:

    So encouraging.

  2. Mark Nyalumbe says:

    Wow, Keep it up!

  3. Mary Gathu says:

    Such an educative article thank you..

  4. Cece Paula says:

    Great content

  5. Osewe D. says:

    Such a tough task of balancing accadenics and entrepreneurship but she still thrive. Got motivated by this piece of writing 👏👏

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