Many entrepreneurs start businesses to fulfill particular needs or solve problems. However, somewhere along the way, they may realize that deviating from their original plan or making some changes to their original concept, which is known as pivoting, becomes necessary. Unfortunately, many are reluctant to make alterations because they often think they will abandon their initial vision or idea. Also, because of some entrepreneurs’ attachment to their businesses, they may be unsure when the time is right to pivot. However, business owners should be open to pivoting even if it requires using subtle or radically different approaches when their current strategy proves to be inefficient, unmanageable, or infeasible. Therefore, entrepreneurs should be open to pivoting their business models since modifications may be critical for its long term survival, success and seeing their overall goals and visions materialize.
Signs You Should Pivot Your Business
As previously stated, despite your attachment to your business and the ways in which things are currently done, it is wise to know when you need to pivot. The following are some signs that indicate that pivoting is necessary:
- No Investor Interest- You have a brilliant business idea and a well thought out plan for bringing a product in the market. You start meeting with investors; however, despite numerous meetings, rejection is the only constant. Therefore, if rejections are based solely on your product or target market, then pivoting should be considered. Not all rejections will warrant pivoting because sometimes investors’ disinterest may stem from a genuine lack of appeal in your particular area or because you need a key team member, but if it’s product related, it’s a sign you need to pivot.
- Beta User Rejects Your Solution- You need to listen to your potential customers. Do not assume you know what your users want. Ask them and get feedback before officially launching. You may be passionate and attached to what you’re doing; however, if your beta users reject your solution, you may need to pivot.
- You are a Generalist trying to attract Everyone- Most start-ups that try being everything to everyone tend to fail because they keep wasting resources trying to satisfy a wide swath of the market. When you go after everyone, you only confuse the market as they may start questioning whether the product is for them or not. Therefore, be more focused, pick a target market, and focus on it
- Current Market Diminishes Greatly- You may be successfully serving a particular market. However, with the introduction of newer & better products, unexpected competition or lower price by your competitors, you start seeing your current demand diminish rapidly. Realistically, in such cases, if competing isn’t feasible, you should consider pivoting your business.
- Product is made Obsolete by New Innovation- Kodak is a prime example of such an occurrence. Their management was unable to see digital photography as a disruptive technology and their business was made obsolete by it. They stubbornly refused to pivot their business because they thought that their product was untouchable. Consequently, you need to observe the trends happening in your industry, and whenever there is an innovative development that could potentially make your business a nonfactor, pivot your business to stay in the game.
- Demand For Your Product Drops- Another sign that may indicate that pivoting your business should be considered is when you realize that the demand for your products is in decline. Firstly, you should conduct some form of market research to determine the cause to stem the tide if possible. Maybe it has to do with your marketing strategies, the quality of your good or service, a lack of further interest, or your product or service’s apparent lack of relevance in the market. However, after your investigation, if it is obvious that people are no longer interested in patronizing, then maybe it’s time to make some changes.
Some idea on how to Pivot
- Make Changes to Product or Product positioning- In order to pivot, you may need to do is make some changes to your existing products especially if they are being rejected by investors or beta users. You may also need to re-evaluate your products and their features to determine if they are still relevant to the market. If they are not, you should consider adding features or making alterations to address customers’ needs and wants in the changing marketplace. You may also need to take a look at the benefits your products of services offer and ask your customers if they still value them. After your critical analysis, you may even find it necessary to consider creating a new product altogether to show willingness to satisfy the demands of your customers to keep your brand relevant.
- Alter Sales & Marketing strategy- Changing your go to market strategy is another way in which you can pivot your business. Some businesses have traditional methods of marketing and distribution; however, taking a different approach from the status quo may be the direction to go. For instance, you can consider taking your operation online, or if you sell through an internal sales force, how about trying wholesalers, distributors or sales representatives? Taking a different strategy is one of the simplest ways to pivot your business.
- Update Business Processes and Operation- Sometimes making a few operational changes become necessary to reinvent your business. For example, maybe your problem stems from an inability to maintain fulltime staff on your team. You could counteract such a situation by replacing them with freelance contractors. Changing the way you operate can have many advantages beyond allowing you to pivot your business such as cutting cost, improving product quality, decreasing wastage, and increasing efficiency. Additionally, to decipher how your business will react to the possible changes, use operation planning surveys for labor, equipment, and processes.
As previously stated, pivoting your business doesn’t necessarily constitute stepping away from your business’ core values or the problems you want to solve. Instead, it could simply mean finding new, different, or more efficient ways of doing things that will most likely increase your odds of producing desirable results and fulfilling your business’ vision. Therefore, a business owner’s innate or learned ability to notice when they need to pivot can help them stay and succeed in their business ventures.