Pivoting is bad only when you do it without vision.
Pivoting is a form of resilience. Resilience is the skill of recovering quickly from difficulties, disappointments, and setbacks. Pivoting is also being able to take opportunities as they arise.
But it is not aimlessly trying new things all the time without any planning, strategy, or deeper thought. We also don’t talk about pivoting, when it’s just testing different tactics or ideas.
Story from the book Big Rich Money: How To Turn Your Business Intentions Into A Profitable Company
Katja’s Big Rich Money Tip:
I grew up in a small town, and one of the ways I was able to get out of our town was dancing. I started ballroom dancing when I was ten years old, and it allowed me to travel across the country in dance competitions and dance camps. One of my biggest disappointments was having to quit ballroom dancing, but as I mentioned earlier in this book, I pivoted fast into being a hip hop dancing model in fashion shows. Pivot was a word and a skill that I learned early on. Runners have a track or street to keep moving in one direction, but when you dance, the size of the dance floor limits how far you can go. You have to create your magic in a confined space. Pivots are essential and dancers must practice them over and over again. I remember practicing this one heel pivot where you elegantly turn your entire body in unison with your partner. It looks like you turn on your both feet, but in fact your weight is fully on the standing foot. Actually the better standing you have on one foot, the better chances you have perfecting your pivot. You also have to be fully connected to your dance partner knowing he is doing the pivot at the exact moment you are, and you both need to keep your balance. At some point during the pivot you just sort of need to let go and relax, let your bodies take the turn and trust that you can make it. Pivoting in business is very similar. You need to understand the limitations of the dance floor – your marketplace. You have to have a solid standing on one foot, whether it’s your skills, resources, your company values, financials or customer base, and then use that as your strength to turn into something new. You have to be able to trust your partner, whether it’s your suppliers or even your customers that have indicated that they are interested in the new offering. And at some point you just need to let go of the old and move forward and trust that the movement will work and you can elegantly pivot and continue dancing.
The ability to be resilient is a key to success.
The ability to be resilient is the key ingredient to success and life satisfaction. It might sound dramatic, but the fact is that life will not always go as planned (and life definitely doesn’t go as ‘wished’). Being resilient in daily life could mean quickly adjusting plans when a hiccup occurs, or just “expecting the unexpected,” and it’s great practice for bigger pivots. It makes change less scary. Pivots require both a positive, optimistic attitude and a methodical plan. The first pivot or big change will need a lot of careful planning and setting up safety nets. Subsequent changes, be they bigger or smaller than the first experience, will start to feel easier. You’ve already gone through one change before and survived. At some point you move from “survival” to “thriving” and teaching others how to do the same! You will learn and share so many valuable lessons from it! Pivoting needs practice. Take the advice of some of the most successful companies in the world. According to McKinsey1, more than 50 percent of companies whose revenue growth is in the top 10 percent are more effective than their industry peers at:
executing changes to products, services, and ways of working
Thanks to having the guts to test new ideas, take opportunities that arise in the marketplace, or avoid some mistakes others are making in the industry, companies are able to grow by creating change. The better they have processes in place to measure results as they change things, the easier it becomes to pivot.
One of the keys to continuous success is curiosity.
Remain curious, and it will help you to think of new ways to solve old problems. You will never run out of ideas of what to offer for your customers, when you stay curious, keep asking questions, and keep stretching your imagination. This curiosity can be part of your marketing research (or listening as we like to call it) or it can relate to world and local news, and upcoming trends. Focus on your skills, strengths, and current resources and identify how you could utilize them for new opportunities. Find new opportunities from “listening” to your existing customers, and staying on the top of industry trends, news and forecasts. It can be as easy as rethinking your price point or changing your target customer, and you can plan your pivot very similarly to the way you planned your first business idea. The difference is that you have existing resources or strengths that you didn’t have before, and you are already “on the dance floor”. The key is in reducing risk as you seize opportunities. This means creating a backup plan, or leaving the door open to return where you were before. You might think a successful pivot teaches you the most. Success gives you self-confidence, and guts to try new things again, but a non-success can teach you valuable lessons that are essential in your next transformation. In the Big Rich Money book we have featured some of the mistakes entrepreneurs make, and you can learn those valuable “non-success” lessons without actually making them yourself.
A pivot is not a fight-or-flight reaction as you panic and change everything just because you spilled coffee on your business plan. It’s not a surrender; it’s a strategic twist to keep the startup ship sailing in the right direction. Think of it as Batman adjusting his utility belt for the ultimate battle, not giving up Gotham City to the bad guys.
A pivot is not simply a hasty change in direction. It’s not about abandoning a startup’s original vision without careful consideration. Instead, a pivot is a well-thought-out strategic shift based on data, feedback, and a deep understanding of the market.