Pivoting (for Those Who Don't Know What/why)

Yes, no blogs or Follow Friday’s this week. It was my birthday week and between seeing everybody I’ve had limited time to be online. I promise to make it up with some spectacular people and posts in the next week! Apologies.

I had a fantastic conversation on pivoting with Paul Sullivan yesterday. Later on in the evening I was at my local watering hole speaking to small business owners who provided me the blankest of looks. To my startup junkie followers pivoting is nothing new but, as always, startup / tech people often have concepts that are not always translated to or understood by business. So without further ad here is my attempt to explain pivoting.

What is Pivoting?

Pivoting is a fundamental change in your business model or strategy.

  • Perhaps you change your price or the way people pay you (from per use to annually)
  • Perhaps you were running a coffee store but realized everybody was buying your breakfast meals instead (change in market)
  • Perhaps you are a successful accountant who is now adding or focusing on payroll (change in features)

This is hardly comprehensive but shows a pivot can be a big or small change in your business. All that matters is that the pivot results in a new direction for your business.

When do I Pivot?

Pivoting is a risk. You should never change things for the sake of change. However, if your business is failing and the traditional marketing won’t bring people in the door and you continue to fail with retention it is likely time.

Your customers will make it clear when you need to Pivot. If you intended on serving only coffee but everybody orders food, you pivot to a restaurant.  Starbucks was once a wholesaler but pivoted to retail. Tynt, a technology attribution startup, will likely pivot into search prediction.  When users use your product / service / establishment in ways you did not intend or you see customers for an ulterior use embrace them and consider a pivot.

Is Pivoting Bad?

NO!! If your business is successful, growing and profitable there is no need to Pivot. Yet if things are not the best and success seems unattainable pivoting makes natural sense. It does not make you inconsistent or a failure. It shows that your original business model may not have been as successful as predicted but that you are resilient enough to deploy existing resources for a new use.