When talking about a business, the word “pivot” often refers to some type of large business change. Typically, pivoting is meant to assist a business in recovering from a difficult period, or in order to keep pushing after new competition or other factors complicate strategy. The real question is whether pivoting is actually a viable business strategy, or is it just a final attempt to save a failing business?
There are dozens of examples of where pivoting has worked and where it hasn’t, so it can be difficult to determine if it’s actually worth doing. Sometimes startups will arise only to be pushed back down by existing companies that decide to step into that startup’s field. A great example of this is Twitter.
Twitter was born from a platform known as Odeo, which was meant to be a social network channel revolving around podcasts and their distribution. Apple then decided to launch iTunes podcasting, forcing Odeo to pivot its business strategy. Thus Twitter was born, and pivoting was a great success. But while there are successful pivots, there are also ones that fail. Take Flowtab for example. What began as an app that allowed bar-goers to order and pay for drinks using their smartphones quickly failed. Flowtab then attempted to pivot two more times, ultimately going under in the end.
According to a study dealing with why startups fail, around 10 percent of failed startups say the reason they failed was to some degree because of a pivot that failed. Another 7 percent say it’s because they failed to pivot altogether. The fact that pivoting comes up so much in the conversation of failing startups means that regardless of whether it works or not, it’s an important option to consider.
While pivoting has the chance to save your business, there is some risk associated with it. While pivoting is meant to cut losses, it can still be expensive. You likely had to invest a lot of money in your business, to begin with, and by pivoting you’ll likely have to do it again in order to facilitate a drastic change. There’s also your companies reputation to think about, especially if it’s your second pivot. Pivoting more than once can make you and your company look poorly in the eyes of investors.
So, is pivoting worth it? It’s a question that isn’t easily answered. There have been many successful pivots in the business world, so it’s proven to be more than just a desperate survival attempt. Never think of a pivot as something to fall back on, as there are chances it won’t work, but make sure to keep it in the back of your mind in case the day ever arises where you feel it’s the best decision for your business.