Pivoting in the right direction Why being open to pivoting is crucial in an entrepreneur’s journey
What is a pivot?
Pivoting was first introduced by Eric Ries in 2009, where he mentioned on his blog, Startup Lessons Learned, what he meant by the word in the professional sense. He described it as “the idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration. By contrast, many unsuccessful startups simply jump outright from one vision to something completely different. These jumps are extremely risky, because they don’t leverage the validated learning about customers that came before.” After the publication of this particular blog post, the term took a life of its own, while still attributing the work of Ries as the one who coined the term.
Why do companies pivot?
If you’re asking yourself why you would need to pivot your current idea, it’s important to take into account the opportunity cost you may be missing out on by working on an idea that could use some adapting. Looking into the data that you collected from customers as well as the competition will give you important indications into what alterations could be made in order to successfully run your business.
Pivoting during a crisis
During times of crisis like the one that we’re living through now, it’s important to know that pivoting could help save your business by not being tone deaf to the economic environment that we’re living in. When faced with valuable customer feedback, remember that it is to your own benefit to read the comments, recommendations, and criticism provided!
Simon Sinek addressed this topic on his Youtube channel in a video titled “Pivoting in a time of crisis”. (see below)
He mentions the importance of entrepreneurs to ask themselves “What ways can I use the resources that I have to provide value in ways that I couldn’t before relevant to the current situation?”
The way this has looked for many small and independently-run businesses worldwide is by finally embracing online selling. Small businesses, many of which never had an online presence, have moved towards primarily online operations, which for some was never part of their business strategy. If you’re operating a small business, there is a good initiative by GoDaddy that shows ways other entrepreneurs have been able to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic.
When to pivot
According to Dalton Caldwell from Y Combinator, when the idea isn’t growing, if you’re waiting for an external factor to happen, or if your product or service has been on the market without gaining traction, this is an indication that it could be time to pivot your idea.
He recommends waiting to add people to the team until after you’ve found an idea that works. If you already have a small team, it is suggested to include them in open conversations about the shift taking place, as well as getting feedback from an insider’s perspective
Once you’ve come up with a plan on how to pivot, Caldwell advises launching a basic MVP on the market. This way, you’ll be able to get important customer feedback as soon as possible. This will start the feedback process while you’re still learning how to best optimize the product or service that will come later.
It might not be an easy decision to change directions of your company. Yet, staying flexible and open to feedback will help mitigate a successful shift in the trajectory of your company!