The term “pivot” became part of the entrepreneur’s vernacular after being introduced in Eric Ries’ best-selling book The Lean Startup. Used to describe how startups change the direction of their business in order to survive, this term is most often heard when describing tech companies. But the reality is that most successful small businesses, regardless of industry, don’t end up running the exact business they started. Somewhere along the way, they’ve had to pivot.
It’s not necessarily easy to see when it’s time for a pivot. So how do you know if you should stay the course or make a few changes?
Look for problem areas – or surprisingly successful ones
You may think you have a good idea, but you won’t really know until you execute it. Perhaps the market buying your product is vastly different from the one you were targeting. You may want to shift your marketing techniques to reflect this. Or perhaps a certain segment of your business is doing better than another. If your ice cream parlor/coffee house is really only seeing viable profits from ice cream sales, it may be worth it to pivot and remove the coffee house component.
Take a close look at your product. Is it solving the expected problem? Or are there features being used by your customers in a way you didn’t expect? For example, the popular online business review site Yelp started as...