Pivoting is a well-known business strategy. It helps businesses adapt to changing criteria in a market. It’s not the easiest thing for an entrepreneur to learn how to pivot, though. Luckily, Fred Cary knows a bit about pivoting, as the leader of a company that helps other startups succeed and his successes are numerous. Today, his startup IdeaPros has over 300 clients. During the recent international crisis, businesses had no choice but to pivot. Cary’s clients had to approach the industries they operated in differently. Their experiences helped inform Cary about how pivoting works in this scenario.
Nothing Goes to Plan
The most significant issue that businesses have with pivoting is that nothing goes to plan. Changing business functions can be complex. Most small businesses have an outlined procedure, but when a company pivots, almost everything needs to change, from the internal processes to how it interacts with clients and suppliers. “It requires planning, and even then, you’re not sure about the outcome,” Cary says. Yet this unpredictability is a natural trait of pivoting. Businesses are looking to enter new markets when they pivot. Some take their current product and apply it to a different use, among other changes. Planning can only help a company get started with a pivot. Adaptability is what allows it to maintain momentum.
Notice Issues and Deal With Them
An adaptable workforce is essential in a pivot. Many corporate structures are rigid and unchanging, and while this layout helps with management, it is detrimental to a company’s pivot. Because pivoting is so unpredictable, a business needs to adapt at the drop of a hat. Cary’s advice is that the company ensures its employees are independent. “Let them make decisions without holding their hands,” he advises. This advice comes from his own company, where workers are empowered to make decisions. When the business pivots, it will see the benefit of this thinking. Employees can spot issues and fix them without consulting management. “It’s as close as you’ll get to the business adapting on its own,” Cary says.
Turn Adversity Into Advantage
Pivots don’t happen because companies want to change. They occur because a business has no other options. In such a case, the enterprise needs to use its shortcomings. “Turn your adversity into an advantage,” Cary says. The business can take the things that impact its success and build on them. Pivoting shifts the company’s focus. By doing so, it can sidestep the problems it’s been dealing with. Overcoming the issues with a pivot requires creative thinking, though. With each obstacle the business faces, it can learn to adapt. According to Cary, this adaptation will make it more suitable in the long run.
Changing Direction With No Notice
Pivots rarely give a company the chance to plan for them. They’re a response to a catastrophic change within an industry. As such, if a business wants to change its direction, it can face many challenges to get where it wants to go. Cary has witnessed many enterprises attempt to pivot during the pandemic. While a few have succeeded, some have failed. Yet, even in failure, Cary suggests that an entrepreneur can learn something: “It’s just a matter of knowing what doesn’t work, so you avoid it next time.”