How to Tell When You Need to Pivot

With any business or marketing initiative, there’s always the chance of falling short. There is hardly any venture that is perfect at first attempt. In fact, some of today’s most remarkable businesses built their current versions off of earlier failures — companies like Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare all owe their success now to major pivots along the way.

Strategic business pivots, both big and small, need to be carefully planned and well-timed. How do you know when your company is ready to evolve to its next phase? Here are a few signs to recognize when to pivot in business and determine how to make this change a successful one:

Listen to your gut. Everyone knows that funny feeling we get that emanates and tickles pit of the stomach every time something’s “off”. Smart, seasoned marketers know that whenever they get that feeling, they should pay attention. Malcolm Gladwell chronicles in his book “Blink” just how often our gut instinct proves to be right and how much we should trust it.

Lackluster customer enthusiasm. Most companies of today are driven to market fast and early that products or campaigns hardly receive the ideal pre-launch testing. It is very easy to slip into the trap of focusing too much on what you would like to sell rather than what people actually want to buy. Curb that impulse by asking yourself: Is this product different? Will people pay for it? And the answers should be no-brainers for both business owners and team members. If anyone has any trouble coming up with a satisfactory answer, that’s your signal that the product is probably not market-ready. Lukewarm customer response to your launch is likely a signal to return to the drawing board.

The market’s overall needs are changing. As the market continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly necessary to stay ready to pivot your business at any time to meet customers’ changing needs. Closely monitor both your customers’ needs as well as the direction the market is evolving towards so you can pivot with much ease and be right where your customer needs you.

You’re no longer serving your target market. Just like technology, business tastes are ever-changing. If your target market is looking for a different way to be served, you have two options: adapt to that market’s changing needs OR refine your focus towards a market that actually wants your product or service as it is. The “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset will hardly ever guarantee your business’ success and survival in the industry.

You’re spending too much time putting out fires. When you start to feel as though you spend more time fire-fighting on a daily basis – it is indicative that your business needs to change. When you spend a large part of the workday putting out fires and, at the end of the day, feel like nothing has been accomplished, it only means one thing. It is certainly time to take a step back, regroup, and reassess the entire plan on a higher level.

Change is constant in life, in general, as it is in running a successful business. It will not be always easy to anticipate all the twists and turns of industry evolution. It is far easier to stay adaptable and prepared to adjust your business model as necessary.