Shall We Pivot?

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Entrepreneurs are often faced with the critical task of continuing on or choosing to change direction. Lately, as I read through articles about the business world, I am consistently faced with businesses that have been required to pivot during the COVID-19 crisis. These companies, both big and small have been required to quickly change their business models in order to survive in their current market. As an entrepreneur pivoting can be a difficult dance move to want to follow, but when done correctly it can keep your business concept afloat and can be executed gracefully.

What is Pivoting?

When I hear the term “pivot”, I automatically think about taking dance as a child. In dance terms, a pivot is a general classification in which a dancer’s body rotates about at its vertical axis before continuing to move forward. It could be further defined with an example: the dancer pivoted on their toes to change direction. The term pivot has made its way from strictly defining dance moves and gone into the business world to describe a business change or new strategy a business must acquire. This change does not have to be a dramatic one, it is intended to be any change you make that helps your business to recover from a tough period.

How do you know if you should pivot?

For most businesses, deciding to pivot is a natural evolution that takes place as you discover things that work and that do not work for your corporation. Here are a few items that may help show you it is time to pivot.

  • You want to make your business a stronger version of itself.

When a business looks to take itself to a new level, change and adaptation is necessary. No company is created perfectly from the start. A perfect company is one in which continues to strive and reach for different goals to stay on top of the market.

  • The market’s needs are different.

Tough or challenging times typically show companies of all sizes where a problem lies within it that needs to be addressed. With COVID-19 we saw our markets needs change. We saw businesses need to create online stores that would allow their customers to come to them digitally. These businesses diligently adapted to our pandemic and in turn stayed afloat.

  • Most of your time as the owner is spent putting out fires.

When you begin to feel as though you are spending most of your time putting out fires, you are probably well aware that something has to change. At this point, you will know it is time to step back and plan things differently.

  • You’ve stopped growing, and you cannot see a viable path for the future.

Growth shows you that what you are doing is working, or it is not working. Sometimes organizations need more effort put into their current system. However, if you have been putting in the extra effort and growth is continuing to decline, you know it is probably time to pivot.

  • Your core values don’t align with your users.

Pivots often occur when founders realize that their users are looking to their business or service for a fraction of what they thought they would look to it for.

Twitter; an inspiring example of a pivot done right.

When completing research for this article I was dumbfounded as I discovered so many HUGE businesses that had to pivot in order to find success. For example, Twitter was originally called Odeo. Odeo was designed as a distribution channel that was set to revolve around podcasts. While in the launch phase, Apple launched iTunes podcasting and Ordeo could not compete. In turn, Odeo’s co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone partnered with one of their employees, Jack Dorsey to create Twitter from scratch.

How Can a Business Pivot?

It is important to remember that not all pivots are based in recovery mode. Sometimes pivots happen because companies see opportunities to change the market and they diligently pursue seizing just that moment.

Here are some ways to look within your organization for rooms to make positive change happen:

  • Create new value for your company by ensuring that your product or service is not just nice to have, but necessary to have.
  • Find new ways to deliver your value to the customer. For example, set up an online store that allows customers to purchase your items digitally.
  • Change competitive positioning and pricing to improve traction of your product or service.
  • Seek in-depth conversations with your current clientele to find ways in which you can improve your offerings.
  • Consider alternative technology-based platforms to solve problems.
  • Discover new ways to market to your current clientele, and individuals like them in your service area.
  • Invest in social media, blogging and other aspects of increasing your businesses online presence.

How should you pivot?

Making the decision to pivot your company without proper thought and careful planning is a recipe for disaster. At iStart, we are BIG on community and finding inspiration and guidance from others. In fact, that is where we got our start. Because of this, we want to make sure you understand the value that comes from gathering ideas from others.

  • Work with your employees, board of directors, and mentors. The goal here is to give everyone a voice. Hear what they have to say, take notes, and see how you can move forward in a positive manor.
  • Pick new goals that align with your decided vision.
  • Ask your customers smart questions and truly listen to their replies in order to gage the direction in which you are pivoting is the right way to go.
  • Ace your pitch narrative. What we mean by this is be ready to verbally sell your new plan to anyone who asks.
  • Ensure all employees are aligned with your concepts and are ready and willing to move forward enthusiastically with it. Team spirit is crucial during transitions. Make sure your team feels respected and are excited for your companies’ new vision.

As entrepreneurs, we understand how difficult it can be to be faced with the decisions behind needing to pivot your company in order to avoid failure. Please know that you are not alone, and we want to help you find success. After all, changing the positioning of your company may seem scary, but it has the ability to help you reach further success. Give us a call today, we would love to have you get started with our business accelerator program. Guiding entrepreneurs as they pivot through uncertain change is something we do best.