This past Saturday, I spoke on a panel at the Women Empower Expo about how to successfully pivot in life and in business. Pivot in the business/start-up world, means exploring a new business model because the current model either isn’t working or you’re ready to scale.
Sometimes a pivot in business can be interpreted as failure or throwing things up in the air to see what sticks, and as a Coach & Strategist, and someone who is an entrepreneur myself, I look at a pivot as huge opportunity.
Sometimes we get too fixated or stuck in one way or thinking or operating. There is no need to hang on to a business model simply because it’s ‘the way you’ve alway do business’. This can creates limits around growth and innovation.
If ‘things’ aren’t working, or your industry or customer base have evolved and you’re still operating in a way that hasn’t evolved with them, you might start experiencing frustration, crisis, poor corporate culture, and just flat out loss of sales or business.
Sometimes companies wait to pivot when they are experience a crisis or failure.
A pivot doesn’t mean something is wrong with your business…
It may just mean something better is ready to happen or your industry and clients are giving you feedback by no longer buying your products and services or are using them in a completely different way than you intended, which ultimately is a good thing.
Sometimes a company won’t consider a pivot because the money is coming in rather than looking at the pipeline or possibilities. I love the saying, ‘why would we leave money on the table?’ When you only focus on the revenue, you may limit the possibility of how you can diversify your revenue stream and leverage what’s working.
A pivot can be incredibly valuable and in my experience with my business and with my clients, a pivot can also be incredibly exciting, as it can pave the way to growth and innovation.
Yes, a pivot can also be daunting and that is the nature of business…taking risks, taking a chance on yourself and the work you love. We all know there are phases of business growth and a pivot can be viewed as a natural occurrence in the start-up world. Especially when the product or service is full of your passion. When entrepreneurs get too close their business they risk losing the wide lens, the vision it take to grow and scale, and there is also a possibility of taking things personal if something changes about the business model.
This mindset can show as:
- My passion has failed
- I have failed
- I will do anything to make this current business model work (pushing a boulder uphill)
- How will it look if we change our business model?
When we are so passionate about our business we tend not see through the wider lens and might only be focusing on the short-term possibilities and limitations in the beginning, which makes sense because survival is real in the start-up phase.
By re-imagining your business model with actual data from your transactions to date, customer feedback and research showing you what’s working and what’s not, you can factor in how your clients’ pain points are different or more defined today than they were when you started your business. This is all possible with a pivot and can allow you to step further into growing and scaling your business in an accurate and lean way.
I was just reading an article which reminded me how Facebook started off as a dating site and it also mentioned how YouTube started off as a dating site as well…talk about pivot!
Even in my current business, when I officially launched my company, I was set on dive deeper into Health Coaching, and after 3 years of starting my own coaching practice, Health Coaching is about 10% of what I do, compared to Mindset Coaching and Corporate Strategy work I do.
My recent pivot came from my clients.
They shifted their goals from health into professional and life goals quickly because health challenges and health goals are easy and quick to accomplish with me, and they felt safe and empowered with me where they decided to take a chance on themselves and dive deeper into their true goals, their true purpose and true fulfillment.
I was only able to pivot because I listened and followed their lead. I didn’t try to keep them contained to health coaching, nor did I question my worth, capabilities, or my service. In fact, I owe A LOT to my clients. All of them have led me to getting my Masters in Transformational Coaching and studying neuroscience to truly understand our decision making patterns and our ability to make empowered choices to move our lives and our happiness forward. Not only is this helping my clients soar into incredible lifestyles, the work has elevate my lifestyle up to such happiness and success as well.
If you are ready to pivot, and would like a strategic partner to empower you through the process, let’s talk to determine what a pivot could look like for you business, explore the reason or demand for a pivot and start designing the strategy.
Here are 8 ways to Pivot Your Business To Kickstart Growth, by venture advisor and entrepreneur Eric Ries:
- Strip the solution down to a focus on a key featureNo solution can be everything to everyone, but your initial passion can make it feel that way. This confuses customers, and dilutes your marketing impact. I would call this the “less is more” or the “keep it simple” pivot. After initial traction, there is plenty of time to bring back more features.
- Add that “grabber” feature to make your solution stand outSolutions that integrate all the features of multiple products, like Facebook and Twitter, rarely get broad visibility. You need a new and innovative addition to get customer attention, and stand out above competitors. Existing users are trained by use, and rarely move for usability alone.
- Hone your definition of target customer demographicsFacebook was aimed initially at college students, later aimed at consumers in general, and more recently found a lucrative growth path with businesses. Pivots thus are a normal and necessary process in expanding the market, and recognizing cultural shifts as well as kick-starting growth.
- Switch to a more attractive and lucrative business modelOften entrepreneurs start with a direct-to-customer business model, but learn that many domains only work with distributors or value-added resellers. Other popular business models to try include the subscription model, the razor-blade model, and free solutions supported by paid ads.
- Change competitive positioning and pricing to improve tractionMany high-margin, low-volume startups are forced to consider the price-volume tradeoff. Of course, a move on price also puts them in the realm of new competitors, including e-commerce vendors and big-box stores. You can’t be on both ends of this spectrum at the same time.
- Consider alternative technology platforms for the solutionSometimes a startup has to pivot to a new technology to stay competitive or improve margins. Other domains like transportation have found the need to pivot, to meet environmental directives and alternative forms of energy. The world around us changes quickly, even for a startup.
- Adapt to an emerging customer need or painAs economic conditions change, and government regulations evolve, businesses are motivated to seek new tools and processes for risk reduction and continued growth. It can be extremely valuable to pivot the focus of your new software technology tool from productivity to compliance.
- Position your business as a social enterprise versus commercialI see many young entrepreneurs with a passion primarily for social change, who don’t realize that changing the world costs money. The best are able to keep their social focus while pivoting their business strategy to make money. These two objectives are not mutually exclusive.