Before 2020, I had a love-hate relationship with the word “pivot.” I thought it was overused and sounded like consulting jargon. But now I have a newfound respect and admiration for the word because those who knew how to pivot over the last year are the survivors.
A pivot is a turning point—quite literally. In business a pivot is a substantive, strategic change. You may decide to change your product, customer segment, channel, business model, pricing, resources, activities, costs, partners, or markets. The term pivot in the business context has roots in Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, which suggests that entrepreneurs use a scientific, hypothesis-based approach to business. Testing hypotheses seems like a smart way to pivot—but you may not have access to that type of data, or the luxury of time to analyze it. Sometimes you need to pivot to survive in response to rapidly changing conditions. This is not an act of desperation but one of smart intuition.
To be successful, you always need to have a plan B. In fact, for entrepreneurs, pivoting has become a necessity—especially during a crisis. I’m struck by the number of people that made a necessary pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pivots take courage, quick thinking, and the willingness to take a risk:
- The small business that changed markets in response to a shift in demand.
- The business that closed all brick-and-mortar locations.
- The city-based restaurant owner that now delivers family meals to the suburbs.
- The retail store that offers same-day curbside delivery.
- The school administrator who manages through email vs. walking the halls.
- The parent who changed their daily routine to include supervising their kids’ at-home learning.
- The student who starts the morning logging into school instead of rushing to the bus stop.
- The athlete who changed from a team sport to a solo sport.
Some pivots succeed while others fail, but each time you pivot you learn something that helps you when you make your next move. And sometimes it’s far riskier not to pivot. Change is hard but necessity is the mother of invention. I’m hopeful the pivots we’ve made during this difficult time will have some enduring, positive impact.
Do you need to pivot your business or make a strategic change? Contact us.