So as of late I have been seeing a lot of questions online about pivoting in relation to business. ‘What is pivoting? When, or, if it should be done?’ and ‘How to pivot successfully?’ These are all valid questions that are actually important to anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Using myself as an example I’m going to explain to you what this technique is and how it can be done.
What is Pivoting?
Pivoting, in the general term, is a changing of direction. When you apply this to a business, then it means that some change has taken place which affects the business’ plan of operation. This may affect the product or service that a company might offer, or the way in which they offer it.
For example; a shop that only sells hot drinks, like coffee and tea, could pivot into a café, where they now sell pastries along with their drinks.
Why might a business Pivot?
There are many reasons why a business might pivot or change what they do. Here are three reasons why pivoting occurs.
- There might be too much competition.
A start-up company might think that they have a unique idea, but then after some time they realize that they are larger, more experienced and well-funded companies already in existence with a big head start. They might be better off doing something else completely.
- A particular product or service might be getting more attention.
If one particular product or service that a company provides is getting more attention and is steadily increasing, while other aspects are falling behind, then the company might pivot. They might consider discontinuing other aspects in favor or focusing on what is succeeding in order to boost revenue.
- Economic downturn.
With global trends and conditions constantly changing, economies will rise or depreciate. This can affect the budget of a business and how they spend, or what they might be able to acquire. A countries economy can affect import and export. If a company is dependent on certain products that can only be obtained from outside sources, then they might have to pivot to finding an alternative source in order to remain in operation.
There are many other reasons why pivoting might occur, each dependent on location, financing, type of business, management style ect. The bottom line is that a business will ultimately decide to pivot in order for its own survival.
My Experience in Pivoting
Like I mentioned earlier, I am going to share my own experience here as an entrepreneur. Hi, my name is Kwesi, and I’m a Freelance Graphic Designer and small business owner.
I first got the idea to freelance as a graphic designer back in 2017 while I worked full time in a similar role for a branding company. When I left that company I decided to try my best to turn my passion and skill in design into a small business. I came up with a fancy name and logo, got myself registered and already had some savings put down to acquire the machinery needed. I marketed my business as a one-stop-shop, where people can get their ideas crafted into digital design as well as printed. I did labels, stickers, cards and even printed apparel.
For my first couple years I did alright. Even though I worked the business on my own, I managed to get everything accomplished. Into the third year, things started to slow down a bit and finally came to an abrupt halt when Covid-19 showed up in 2020. Many of my clients cancelled orders and people stopped shopping the way that they were used to.
I tried to operate as normally as I could, but that wasn’t possible. Not only did I not have the same kind and amount of customer coming to do business, but a lot of the materials that I would use to print had been halted from coming into the county because of restrictions. This was a hard financial blow and I had to consider the future of my business.
This led me to doing a lot of research and asking questions. If my business was to stay alive, then I needed to make some serious changes. During this process I realized that a lot of businesses were moving their companies online. They were advertising their product and services a lot more than they would have done in the past. This made it possible for them to continue in operation even with a lockdown in the process. I decided to follow in this trend. Even though I had social media platforms already made up for my business when I launched, I put a lot more effort into having an online presence. I advertised more and interacted more with potential customers.
One of the things that I also did was revise my product and services. In the beginning, I was more focused on outputting a physical product in the form of stickers, labels, clothing ect. However, during and after the lockdown from the virus, peoples’ spending habits have changed. They are not as interested in buying outside of what they think is absolutely necessary. I adjusted to this trend by putting more emphasis on the services I offer, like logos and digital design. This has allowed me to keep my business alive and relevant while also not having to put out as much on materials and a physical product.
Pivoting is a something vital that all business have to pay attention to, it doesn’t have to be a large change like what I did. It could be something small or incremental. The overall purpose of what you’re trying to do is to keep yourself alive in the industry and provide something that your customers still value, all while making a profit. It takes time, energy, some serious research and even pain and backtracking. But overall you can make it.