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10 Signs That It's Time to Pivot Your Business

Chris Porteous
Chris Porteous

Pivoting can revitalize a struggling business. How can you tell when it's time for your business to pivot?

Not all businesses can succeed, but that doesn't mean initial failures are permanently dooming your company to the loser's corner. Indeed, many businesses that initially fail later succeed because of a well-executed pivot that reorganized their priorities and put them back on the track to success. Knowing when it's time to pivot, however, is often easier said than done, and many business owners refuse to make changes because they're unsure of when to act.

Don't let your company wallow in the wind because you failed to recognize a sign that you needed to pivot. Here's a breakdown of 10 signs that it's time to pivot your business, and how to go about it successfully. 

1. You've lost all passion.

For a business owner, there's no greater sign that it's time to pivot than realizing you've lost all passion for working within a certain industry or sector of the market. Small businesses require dedicated, capable entrepreneurs who are willing to take charge of the company to steer it toward success. If you lack motivation for such a task, it's unlikely that your company will endure for long in a competitive marketplace.

That's why it's imperative to pivot to a new commercial area or strategic approach when you find yourself losing passion for your business. A failure to pay attention to your own growing dismay for a certain business strategy will lead you to keep relying on that strategy until it ultimately dooms you to commercial failure.

2. Your employees don't engage with their work.

After the business owner comes the business's rank-and-file workers, so don't think your own motivation is the only one you need to pay attention to. When you find that your employees are checking out of their work from a mental standpoint and feel wholly unengaged with what they're doing, it could be a strong sign that your business needs to pivot. 

Helping unengaged employees find the spark again begins with knowing what to look for to assess the morale and productivity of your workforce. After that, you're only a few short steps away from pivoting in a new direction and reinvigorating your workforce. 

3. You're looking at other markets.

Sometimes, it's not your business model or approach to a certain commercial sector that's wrong. Instead, it's that you're simply operating in an area that's unsuitable for long-term business success. If you find yourself enviously scouting out potential new markets, that's a fantastic sign that you and your business need to make a pivot and consider a location change.

Moving to a new business location is never easy and seldom cheap, but when done properly, it can introduce you to a slew of new customers eager to sample your exciting wares or services, which, from their perspective, are new in town and full of potential. If you're in New York and longingly gaze at Florida businesses, perhaps you need to make a major pivot and move into a new, more appropriate and profitable marketplace.

4. You're unsatisfied with growth rates.

One common cause for companywide pivots is that executives are unhappy with the lackluster rate of growth that the company has been experiencing lately. If you're a business owner who's deeply concerned about the rate of expansion your company is undergoing, consider it a telltale sign that you've probably waited a little too long to pivot. 

Luckily, this isn't the end of the world. By pivoting to a new strategy, you can steer your business toward more profitable pursuits and make up for the gnawing uncertainty surrounding your current operations. 

5. Your clients are having doubts.

If you're a business owner who relies on the advice of clients, it's of the utmost importance that you take their feedback into consideration concerning a potential company pivot. Those clients of yours who are frustrated with the services you've been providing them are trying to tell you something, and it would be foolish to ignore their advice. When considering a companywide pivot, attend to your clients and determine if their needs are really being met.

6. You struggle with tech.

Those companies that struggle with new technology aren't long for this competitive marketplace. Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs who lead businesses struggling to adapt to the latest innovations refuse to make a pivot. This is a sorry mistake that will come back to haunt you sooner rather than later. 

If you're incapable of modernizing your technology, consider a major pivot that includes bringing on new employees or acquiring another company. That way, you'll be getting a hold of that tech expertise that has been holding you back through its absence. 

7. Your brand isn't attractive.

The attractiveness of your brand determines the overall success of your company, so when your brand isn't attractive, you know for sure that it's time to pivot. Understanding how brands pivot is crucial for business owners who don't want to be left in the dust by competitors who have their fingers on the pulse of the market. Only when your brand has a rejuvenated image that's popular with consumers can you reasonably aspire to new levels of commercial success.

8. Your new workers keep leaving.

If you've tried to pivot by bringing on new employees but find that they keep leaving your ranks almost as soon as they join, it's a sign that you've been relying on an insufficient strategy. When workers leave in droves, your company is in desperate need of a pivot to ensure your workforce doesn't continue to disintegrate at the very moment you need it the most. 

9. You're too focused on the product.

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs pay far too much attention to the products they're putting out onto the market and not enough time focusing on customers and their specific needs. This results in companies churning out products that few people are buying, which further imperils their precarious economic position.

Sometimes, you need to step back as the business owner and ask yourself if it's time to pivot in order to pay more attention to everyday consumers and their specific needs and desires. Business owners who refuse to step away from their products and services for even a minute may think they're doing the company well, but if it means ignoring customers, then you need to make a pivot toward what's important.

10. A 'eureka' moment occurs.

Finally, business owners should always be prepared to pivot in order to capitalize on a "eureka" moment, or an instance where they suddenly conceive of a new and better way of doing business than ever before. When you feel as if your instincts are compelling you to try a radical new approach, consider that they may be right. Business owners who stop going with their guts are likely to stumble into serious problems sooner rather than later.

When you think you've come across a successful pivot idea that others shoot down for being too radical, don't give up right away. In time, you may find that pivoting to pursue your new idea is what made your business a commercial powerhouse.

Image Credit: Jirapong Manustrong / Getty Images
Chris Porteous
Chris Porteous,
business.com Writer
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I'm a serial entrepreneur and owner of three internet ventures, including My SEO Sucks. A contributor to ZeroHedge, Entrepreneur.com, Forbes, Inc.com, and dozens of other media outlets, I believe in SEO as a product. I developed a proprietary technology fueling the #1 rankings of My SEO Sucks clients. In guest speaking ventures across North American, I advocate for organic search traffic as the backbone of any comprehensive digital marketing strategy.