In these challenging times, there has been a lot of talk about the pivot which seems to be in vogue even though businesses have been doing it since there have been businesses.

So, what is a pivot? Simply put, it is accepting that your business model (or parts of it) as it currently sits is not working and, to make it work, you need to change directions or “pivot.” Some obvious pivots can be to:

  • shut down your business
  • refresh it in search of new markets/customers
  • streamline
  • sell
  • adopt new technologies

So, how do you know if you should pivot or persevere? While many entrepreneurs and small business owners will persevere themselves right out of business, others are pivoting constantly to “find” the magic business model, and neither truly works.

If you are struggling with whether you should persevere or pivot, I would recommend you start with two simple tools.

1. The Five Why’s

The Five Why’s is a tool to find a very simple way to get to the root of your problems and is one of my favorite practices to use with businesses.

Here’s How It Works

Pick a part of your business and ask yourself why it is or isn’t working. Then ask yourself why.

Then ask yourself why again.

Then again.

And then ask yourself why once more.

Once you are clear, pick another part of your business and repeat the exercise. Here is a nice resource to help you understand how to use this tool effectively.

2. Practice Validated Learning

What is validated learning? Remember all those years ago when you had to learn the scientific method? You form a hypothesis, uncover your assumptions, test those assumptions, and then apply what you have learned by pivoting or moving forward. While this tool is heavily used with startups, it is also very useful for existing businesses who are looking for a way to Pivot.

Eric Ries, the author of the Lean Startup, has truly mastered this concept.

    While there are tons of resources out there, here are a few that I have found very useful when looking at ways to pivot or persevere:

    1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    2. Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang (Lean Principles for the social sector)
    3. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
    About the Business Incubator Center

    The Business Incubator Center (BIC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that for more than a quarter century has been supporting the launch, growth, stabilization, and long-term success of business enterprises in Mesa County and the surrounding region. Our goal is to stimulate the local economy and retain/create the greatest number of sustainable jobs possible.

    About the Author

    Jon Maraschin is the Executive Director of the Business Incubator Center (BIC) in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he leads a world-class team that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses as they find their success. When not working, Jon can be found wandering the Rocky Mountains with his wife, Kathy, in their restored VW van.

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