Looking to pivot your business? There’s more than one reason why a business owner would want to pivot their business. Perhaps it’s not performing as well as hoped, or a new inspiration has struck. Or maybe an economic crisis has forced a re-evaluation of the business model. Whatever the impetus may be, pivoting a company can be a second lease on life for a faltering business.
However, when taking business in a new direction, many aspects of the old venture could be lost — including things that are actually working. It’s important to take careful stock to be sure the time is right and the good won’t be lost with the bad. Then, once the decision is made, there are vital steps to take to begin the new phase of a business journey. To help, 12 members of Forbes Coaches Council share the counsel they would give a client looking to pivot their business.
1. Determine If It’s A Whim Or A Goal
“Looking” is the operable word here. The coaching would focus on helping the client determine if this is a whim or a goal. If a whim, we could explore motivations and possibilities. If a goal, I would coach around what’s holding them back from starting. Helping a client create a new vision and build a plan to achieve their goal is the golden opportunity in this situation. – Adena Johnston, D. Mgt., CCI Consulting
2. Examine The Cost Of The Status Quo
I would want to understand their motivations for pivoting and to explore whether they’ve examined the cost of continuing to operate “business as usual.” In the age of constant distractions, it’s critical to ensure that the drive to pivot is not based on a fleeting attraction to the latest trend but rather a commitment to change based on a strong purpose connected to desired business results. – Carolina Caro
3. Don’t Let Fear Make The Decision
Some entrepreneurs fear to do something else or to add more services/features to their portfolios because they think it shows failure or weakness to feel passionate about something other than what they’ve been doing. So, I tell my clients that it is okay to want to shift gears. This is what entrepreneurship is about. I also remind them that many business owners have sold their first companies. – Lakrisha Davis, Lakrisha Davis & Co.
4. Tell The Unvarnished Truth
When people or teams want (or need) to pivot, the most effective strategy starts with telling the unvarnished truth! If you are failing, say exactly why. If you are underfunded, understaffed or just incompetent, pivoting with the pretense that the pivot will fix these underlying problems amounts to eating a tub of ice cream each night in order to lose weight. Tell the truth first, then redesign. – John Hittler, Evoking Genius
5. Identify What’s Working Well Right Now
When companies or teams use the word “pivot,” it often comes with turning their backs on what is currently working well. A desire to pivot is usually caused by a deficit focus of “what’s wrong” and a conclusion that a change of direction will fix it. Evaluating what is working well now and what they want to keep as a part of their culture, strategy or product is a great starting point to change. – Rachel Bellack, The Improv Advantage
6. Visualize What Success Will Look Like
To be successful at a new endeavor you need to be able to visualize success. So start by asking yourself, “What will success look like?” Then continue to probe with additional questions such as “What will be different after I pivot?”; “What should I keep and not leave behind when I pivot?”; and “Do I have the right staff to be successful during and after the pivot?” – Cindy Pogrund, Paradigm Pursuits
7. Be Clear About Why It’s Needed Or Desired
Making the assumption that pivot means “go in the exact opposite direction than we have been traveling,” my first move would be to get very, very clear on why this is needed and/or desired — both by the business and the leader. There needs to be a very clear, exact reason for it to be worth doing. That reason then can help define how to go about pivoting and in what direction. – Andy Bailey, Petra Coach
8. Find A Group Of Trusted Advisors
Develop a personal board of directors — trusted advisors from diverse backgrounds with different skills, perspectives and personality traits who can offer constructive feedback, creative ideas and insights about the market trends and your business strategies. Be sure that all your products and services are designed to meet your customers’ needs, and build your reputation around servicing your customers. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC
9. Learn From Your Mistakes
Today’s market is full of companies that have “pivoted” because the original idea didn’t pan out as expected. For example, the guys behind Slack originally developed games, and Slack was just their communication tool. Innovation can come from failure. So taking a good, hard, honest look at what didn’t work, and why, is crucial. Maybe the pre-pivot concept was just the stepping stone to mega success. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy
10. Understand What Will Be Needed To Succeed
I would want to understand the resources, talent and expertise needed to be successful in the new strategy. Too many seek to shift their strategy without understanding whether their organization has the capabilities, resources and time to be successful. The strengths that made them successful in the past may be weaknesses in the future. There has to be an understanding of what is required for success. – Stephen Ford, Fitzgerald, Stevens & Ford, Inc./OI Global Partners, Inc.
11. Evaluate The Impact
A strategic pivot can be the key driver that ensures a business’ survival or sustained growth. Conversely, a reactive pivot, without proper due diligence, can be detrimental to the integrity of the business model. The questions to ask when looking to pivot your business are: Why pivot? What is the long-term impact? How does this support your business goals? – Michela Quilici, MQ Consulting and Business Training, Inc.
12. Make Sure A Pivot Can Be Profitable
You need to ask yourself, “Why?” Is it because you are bored, your business is failing, your market shifted? Keep in mind what it took to get where you are. Changing the entire operation is going to cost time, money and resources. Are you going to be able to make more money than you are going to spend to get the business up and running again? Sometimes you just know it’s time, and that’s okay, too. – Dr. Kathleen Houlihan, Dream2Career