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15 Critical Elements Of A Successful Business Pivot


If a business wants to stay relevant, it needs to continually adapt. Many industries are crowded with competitors vying for consumers’ attention, and standing out can be difficult if a company is stagnant.

As companies periodically evaluate their operations, it may become necessary to implement changes to continue growing, especially during difficult times. To help you through a pivot, the members of Forbes Business Council shared some tips on making a successful shift.

1. Remain Versatile

During challenging times it is even more important for a business to remain versatile and move quickly. Sometimes a great idea may need molding along the way, so always remain willing to adjust, improve and follow the revenue. If you find a new way to generate profitable revenue, lean into it more heavily. – Christian Johnston, GLD

2. Define The Problem You Are Trying To Solve

Ask yourself this question: “What main problem do we actually solve?” Once you’ve clearly articulated the problem you solve, you can craft products and services that provide tangible solutions your customers actually need. This results in your ability to adequately and successfully serve your customer regardless of what challenges may be present. Focus on understanding the problem you solve first. – Kevin Clayson, Done For You Real Estate USA

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3. Prioritize Consumer Health

We are finding that in large part due to the pandemic, companies are seriously thinking about and quantifying the ramifications of prioritizing or disregarding consumer health, especially if they didn’t play in healthcare previously. Since there is no more unifying experience than individual health, the upside or downside potential is real. – Ahmad Gaber, GoGetDoc

4. Embrace An ‘Anything Is Possible’ Mindset

Challenge is a key ingredient to innovation. Embracing a mindset that “anything is possible” will lead you and your team to discover and explore new business landscapes with energy and inspiration. Change is a constant. A company’s ability to reframe disturbance as opportunity is what keeps relevancy alive! – Robert Krenza, BlackWolf Consultants Inc.

5. Be Flexible And Willing To Change

Many of today’s successful companies started with an idea but had to pivot to survive. Ideas first envisioned by founders can fall flat when tested in the real world. Bad timing, fickle customers, black swans and new competition create challenging times for entrepreneurs. Don’t get taken by the sunk cost fallacy. Be flexible and willing to change directions. Start small, test and iterate. – Aaron Poynton, Omnipoynt Solutions

6. Communicate With Your Customers

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Stay close to customers. Speak to a lot of them regularly, then try to understand what trends you are hearing and where the market is going. If you decide to try something new, take a hypothesis-driven approach where you test by starting small, failing fast and iterating. Be ready and willing to make micro-adjustments by incorporating feedback and using data to drive direction. – Gabriel Smith, Pricefx

7. Remove Barriers

Remove barriers between you and the customer. Get into the customers’ decision-making process and experience what they have to go through in searching for your product or service. Creating accessibility is an internal pivot that focuses on the client experience, encouraging them to return and giving you access to their peripheral needs. This sets up your external pivot to meet those needs. – Christopher White, Eques, Inc.

8. Be Innovative

Product innovation is at the core of any business pivot, especially at a challenging time like today’s pandemic. Product innovation has to do with providing new and different values from your traditional business competitors. Most product innovations use digital technology to drive the scope and speed of how your value is delivered. Product innovation also drives new market development. – David Qu, Joint Commission Resources

9. Listen To What Is Happening Around You

A successful business is continuously changing and evolving. You have to be ready to pivot quickly. Listen to what is going on in the world around you, listen to what clients are saying, talk to clients about their challenges and identify how you can be their solution. Make decisions quickly because if you don’t, someone else will. Be ready to look internally at reducing costs and be prepared. – Alisha Raesz, Fourlane

10. Take On A Technology Forward Approach

I want to say a technology-forward approach works, but really it comes down to the reasons you started your business in the first place. Does your business give you joy? Does it inspire you? Do you still get the spark when you make a sale or hear from a satisfied client? Having the right frame of mind makes pivoting (however appropriate for your business) easier and more digestible in hard times. – Alex Argianas, Arginias & Associates

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11. Adopt A Unique Perspective

Taking a unique perspective on how a process in an industry was done and improving it may limit the risk associated with a pivot. When worldwide challenges face a vast number of businesses, many are in survival mode and may not see an opportunity to improve a gap the challenges are causing. If it’s low cost to address the short-term issue and create long-term value, the business may be on the right path. – Paul L. Gunn, KUOG Corporation

12. Focus On Your Customers’ Needs

During challenging times, stay focused on the needs of your customers and how you can help solve them. If your end goal is easing pain points for your customers, your business will always be relevant. This can mean adjusting your course from time to time, but with that larger, overarching goal, your business can make small adjustments to stay on track with the future you envision. – Ty Allen, SocialClimb

13. Don’t Remain In Denial

You can’t be in denial. Too many businesses refuse to accept that trends might be long term and have staying power. You can’t ignore what’s happening in the market just because it’s inconvenient. At a minimum, you must view potential pivots as diversification opportunities and then continue to learn and monitor as you go. – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute

14. Research

Do your research. Understanding what lies ahead of you will help you feel more comfortable making bold moves to pivot your company. Take the time to do your research, understanding the pros and cons, the benefits and the tradeoffs. Talk to experts in the industry or field in which you want to make your bold move, get the inside scoop and read industry publications. – Kerry Siggins, StoneAge

15. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment

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Many businesses’ knee-jerk reaction to a challenging time is to limit distractions and focus on the core business. I’d argue there is no better time for experimentation. Think of all the traditional retailers that have gone under in the last decade after filling shelves and occasionally putting items on sale. Simply doing more of the same is not going to yield different or better results. – Kelly Pigeon, loopt



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