Pivoting Business: An overview of what, why, and when to do it


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What is “pivoting” in business?

The definition of the word pivot alludes to its meaning in a business setting: “originally, a pivot was a “hinge pin” or “fulcrum”: a central rod around which a mechanism turns”. From that, you can deduce that to pivot means to make an about-turn.

A pivoting business is often regarded as risky because it’s a daring move in a business setting. It’s also presumed to indicate that there is an issue in the business or that some element in it is dysfunctional. It is thought of as a move that is made out of desperation but the truth is that the term covers a wide variety of changes within an organization.

It refers to a sudden change of direction. The change can be in the business model or a marketing strategy, in a single advertising campaign, it can be a turnaround in the way a product is manufactured or presented to the public.

A pivot refers to any change that occurs to address an issue within a business or even to optimize a particular sector of the company.

Here are a few examples:

– If the consumer market suddenly changes and a company decides to launch a whole new advertising campaign to better align with the world’s current mood.
– If the team identifies a strategy that’s likely to hold a greater potential for growth in the company and they veer into the new strategy very abruptly.
– If the product that was going to form part of a series of products becomes the sole focus of the company.
– If the product’s potential benefits updated.
– If a company decides to introduce new products or services, or if they decide to specialize their offerings, reduce their offerings, or change their offerings.
– Renaming or rebranding a business

Top reasons for a business pivot

There are many reasons to consider a pivot in business. Ultimately, the goal is to optimize the marketing budget you have available and ensure you get the best possible conversions. A pivot might also increase your publicity and grow your audience. How can you tell when it is the optimal time to consider a pivot?

Never be too rushed. Consider the implications of pivoting carefully and compare them with the possible implications of not making a pivot. There are risks in both choices. The best option is the one with the highest potential to rejuvenate your practices and breathe fresh life into your revenue stream.

Here are a few telltale signs that the time for a pivot is ripe

Lack of external growth – if your company isn’t moving forward and achieving new goals, an element within the brand might need to undergo a pivot. It might not even be the business itself but perhaps the owner needs to undergo a personal pivot, a change in strategy, or a pivot towards a new market, new products, or a new service.
The competition is too steepcompetitive niches are always difficult. There’s always another company with a similar idea and a bigger budget with a more refined approach. If you pivot in your strategy and reconsider the way in which you approach the market, your competition falls by the wayside and you succeed to gain traction.
Plateaus – a business plateau can be difficult. By appearances, each department is busy and productive but the business’s growth is stagnant. You may need to pivot in some of your internal processes to motivate staff and change the way you approach your internal structures.
You’re getting “crickets” from your target audience – failing to get enthusiasm from your target audience? Maybe when you first embarked on market research the response was positive and now it’s lukewarm? Times change quite quickly. Remaining adaptive and ready to pivot in what you offer is essential to a business’s survival.

The best time for a business to pivot

The ability to make a U-turn in an element of your business and rebuild a fresh approach requires versatility. You have to remain fluid enough to adapt as the markets change. A pivot doesn’t have to mean that the work you put into plan A is wasted, it might mean that you’re simply pausing your progress in that regard to come up with a new plan. Plan A can be revisited when the time is right.

Thinking of a rebrand? Some of the best business pivots are around your business name. You can attract a wider target audience by tweaking your brand name. Make sure you choose an impactful, positive name.

The best time to pivot is when you have to, either because you have failed to see growth in your business or because it’s simply no longer relevant to your audience. Occasionally, a pivot might call for a complete rebrand and overhaul. In this case, make sure when you’re naming a business that it is future-proofed for success.

Grant Polachek
Grant Polachek is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the world's #1 naming platform, with 25,000+ customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation.


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