When to Pivot in Business

#bts real talk

In this post we’re going to talk about when to pivot and when to persist in business... But first I want to share a story with you. 

A Real-Life Pivot

Almost exactly 1 year into business, we hired our first employee. Within a couple of months, we went from a team of about a dozen contractors to having 7 employees and 15 contractors. This decision was based mostly on two things… Compliance because the things we were going to need some of our team members to do required them to be employees. And our future plans. We were planning on building a full blown agency and needed capacity to manage 3-4 times as many clients on our implementation only offer. 

However, not long after, we decided to pivot. The scalable version of our agency offer wasn’t working. We were attracting the wrong clients, fighting fires all the time, and instead of getting out of client work, I found myself constantly being dragged in even though the clients weren’t paying for access to me. I knew this wasn’t the direction we needed to go in and it made the most sense to regroup and pivot.

Several of the employees we hired weren’t actually helping us move the needle on our revenue, get more done, or save me time. We ended up scaling back to just 3 employees within a few months, and eventually down to only 2 employees. Despite “scaling back” that decision resulted in a growth rate in our annual revenue of over 60% percent in the next year.

Strategic Micro-Pivots

I could tell you a dozen stories like this one from our first two years in business. These are what I like to call strategic micro-pivots. And in my opinion, they are at the core of our success. 

Pivoting is often positioned as something big and impossible but with practice, it can become easier. I rarely overthink making changes or trying new things in business and I have a tendency to do it much more quickly than most people would in my same situation.

But I know that's not everyone's experience with pivoting and I get lots of questions about how and when to do it. It’s not an exact science, but as a business owner and CEO it’s something you need to get comfortable with. 

Pivots ≠ A Bad Thing

Sometimes when people think about pivoting, they think it’s a bad thing.
Or they think it means scraping everything and starting over.

Or they think it’ll make them look bad.
Or that it’s a sign of failure.

None of that is true.

So today I want to share 8 tips for when to micro-pivot and how to do it successfully.

  1. Keep the big picture mission in mind. Good pivots help you reach your end goal more effectively or more quickly. Bad pivots are distractions or departures from the BIG goal.
  2. Stay solutions-oriented. Being curious and having a genuine desire to solve problems is key for pivoting for the better.
  3. Trust your instincts and your intuition. Often your first gut reaction is the best reaction. Trust it.
  4. Get data and understand what metrics matter. Always get hard data to back up your experiences and feelings and make sure you’re measuring the right metrics for you and your situation.
  5. Understand what sunk cost fallacy is and do your best to avoid it. This trap is a huge waste of time and money. 
  6. Lean on your advisors, mentors, and experts. Don’t try to figure it all out yourself, get help and advice from people who are knowledgeable on the matter at hand. 
  7. Think objectively about your options. Zooming out and detaching from the decision can give you clarity on your best next step.
  8. Always bias toward action. Staying in the “thinking and deciding” phase for too long can lead to a vicious cycle of overthinking and waste precious time and money.

I hope this helps you navigate your next micro-pivot.

Cheers to constant improvement.

Want to hear more about Easy Scaling’s pivots? Listen to Episode 80 of the Easy Scaling Podcast for a conversation about making quick and impactful changes. 

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