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
- 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.
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:
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang (Lean Principles for the social sector)
- Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne