Knowing When — and How — to Pivot Is Key to Your Business' Survival. Here's What You Need to Do. How can you ensure that you're thriving in the face of uncertainty and change? Read on to uncover tips that prove it's not just about reacting to change — it's about seizing the opportunity it presents.

By Lissele Pratt

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Don't be complacent — never rest on your laurels when it comes to your business.
  • 2. Seek revolution, not evolution — don't be afraid to take a leap of faith and innovate.
  • 3. Swift action is non-negotiable — don't delay your decisions. Act with a sense of urgency.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In business, staying ahead is a constant game of strategy. You're always rethinking what you offer, who your audience is and how to make it all work — and let's not forget keeping a close watch on the market, your rivals and trying to predict where demand and tech trends are heading.

Traditionally, this process unfolded methodically, following a more predictable path. But then came 2020, a year that shattered predictability and made adaptability an absolute necessity. That year, a Harvard Business School survey showed that 71% of executives from more than 90 countries said adaptability was the most important quality they looked for in a leader.

I felt the turbulence as I steered my business through the uncharted waters of the global pandemic. I had just launched my business and it was very challenging given that it was important for us to meet clients face to face and attend events in person. Plus, working with high-risk businesses in the banking and payments industry, I also have to pivot frequently to adapt to the ever-changing regulatory landscape.

But here's what I've learned: Precisely during these moments of chaos and upheaval, the art of pivoting shines the brightest.

Related: How Pivoting Saved My Business When Things Didn't Go According to Plan

What is pivoting in business?

In the context of business strategy, a pivot represents a substantial shift in course, a recognition that the existing products or services are no longer in sync with market requirements. The primary aim of a pivot remains unequivocal: augmenting revenue or bolstering a business's standing in the market. Yet, the finesse of pivoting extends beyond the act of change itself. It's about making the right changes at the right time. It's the difference between merely staying afloat and thriving in the long run.

When should you pivot?

Determining the ideal moment for a pivot is a crucial decision. Pivoting isn't a magical solution for all business problems. However, you could consider a pivot when:

  • Substantial investments of resources and capital yield minimal progress
  • Business development hits a plateau with no significant upward trajectory
  • Customer response to your products falls short of expectations
  • Intense competition in the market hinders growth
  • Only a single feature or service of your company gains meaningful traction

Tips for successfully pivoting in business

Change isn't a threat in business — it's your greatest ally. Here are some tips on embracing change and mastering the art of pivoting:

Tip 1: Don't become complacent

Never rest on your laurels. Just because you're at the top today doesn't guarantee you'll stay there tomorrow. Maintaining your position requires relentless effort and constant assessment of your competitive landscape.

In the early days of Capitalixe, I faced a significant setback. We lost one of our biggest clients, accounting for over 50% of our revenue. It hit us hard, and for a moment, it felt like the ground had shifted beneath us. But because I had not been complacent prior to this, I had a pipeline of prospects ready to go. I tirelessly worked to build new relationships and quickly adapted our approach. It wasn't easy, but we recovered and grew stronger from the experience.

Here's how can you steer clear of complacency and keep your business on the winning track:

  • Stay hungry and never stop striving for improvement. Keep looking for ways to make your products or services even better.
  • Actively seek feedback from clients and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. Don't just assume you know what they want. Ask them for feedback and then use that feedback to make positive changes.
  • Don't get so wrapped up in your own business that you forget to see what others in your industry are doing. Learn from their successes and failures, and use that knowledge to stay ahead.

Related: The Sunk Cost Fallacy is Ruining Your Decisions. Here are 3 Life-Changing Lessons I've Learned From Pivoting

Tip 2: Seek revolution, not evolution

Don't settle for incremental progress. Be willing to take bold, disruptive leaps forward. Radical change often yields the most significant market impact.

Early in my entrepreneurial journey, I saw a gap in the market. High-risk businesses were underserved, thanks to their complex challenges like ever-changing regulations and high charge-back rates. Instead of shying away, I embraced the opportunity. With a revolutionary mindset, my team of experts and I dove into these uncharted waters. We crafted innovative financial solutions tailored to their unique needs. Our bold approach paid off, and we didn't just evolve, we reshaped the market, proving that in the face of challenges, revolution often yields the most significant impact.

Here's how to embrace this revolutionary mindset:

  • Encourage your team to question existing norms and practices. What can be done differently and more efficiently? Where can you push boundaries and defy convention?
  • Understand that disruptive change often yields the most substantial rewards. It's about reshaping your industry rather than just fitting into it. Look for opportunities to challenge the market and set new standards.
  • Don't fear change. Instead, embrace it. Be open to radical ideas and unconventional approaches. Create an environment where innovative thinking is encouraged and rewarded.

Tip 3: Swift action is non-negotiable

When the world moves fast, your response must match its pace. Delay can be as detrimental as inaction. Adapt and pivot with urgency. Here's why swift action is key when it comes to pivoting:

  • When you're dealing with a rapidly changing landscape, timing is everything. Opportunities can vanish in the blink of an eye, and challenges can escalate if not addressed promptly. Being quick on your feet gives you a competitive edge.
  • Proactive adaptation allows you to stay ahead of industry shifts and market trends. Instead of merely reacting to changes, you're positioned to anticipate them, making you a trailblazer in your field.
  • Clients today expect quick responses. Whether it's addressing their concerns, delivering products and services or rolling out innovations, meeting these expectations is important for retaining customer loyalty.

Related: Is It Time to Pivot Your Business? These Are the Only Two Signs You Need to Look For.

Final thoughts

Change is not a foe but a friend in business, and adaptability is your greatest asset. Remember, staying the course without room for adjustment is a path to obsolescence.

Embrace change, innovate fearlessly and never hesitate to challenge the status quo. In moments of uncertainty, pivot when necessary and always be the architect of your success story.

Lissele Pratt

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Growth Officer & Co-founder

As chief growth officer and co-founder of Capitalixe, Lissele Pratt helps companies in the medium to high-risk industries obtain the latest financial technology, payment and banking solutions. She was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 Finance list in 2021 and has been featured in leading publications.

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