Episode 74: Pivoting – How to Know When to Pivot and How to Do it Effectively

In order to have a successful business, you can’t be afraid to pivot. Sometimes you need to change your business strategy or model to ensure success. How do you prepare to pivot? We’ll outline the importance of pivot and give some examples of how we’ve pivoted to help improve our business

Roger: Welcome to Local SEO Today. I’m Roger Murphy.

John: And I’m John Vuong.

Roger: Thank you for visiting us today. I know you’re…If you’re a business owner you’re watching us today we are always, John, we want to talk to business owners about ways, tips and tricks really on how to improve their business it might be bottom line, top-line revenue, how to save money, making money, get more clients, etc. But today this is an interesting topic and this word is used a lot, many times and it’s called pivoting and some business owners might go, “I don’t like that word, it intimidates me.” Whatever, but let’s talk about pivoting. How important it is if you’re a business owner and entrepreneur, what it means to…What is pivoting and then how important it is.

John: Yeah, as an entrepreneur as, you know, as much research you’ve done in terms of putting together a business summary, business plan to get funding or what not. It’s gonna change and you need to make sure that in reality who your customers are, the ones that actually pay for your services are the right ones based on your, you know, research, right? But if it isn’t, you need to quickly pivot so that you don’t lose time and money and resources to find the ones that are willing to pay for your service.

Roger: So what we’re talking about is market conditions. As you say, John, you come in with a business plan, here’s the bank they like what I’ve got. It’s this business plan. I’m moving ahead. I’ve got some funding. I’ve got my vehicles, I’ve got my…I’ve built my advertising but reality sometimes bubbles up and realities change. It might be pricing in the marketplace changes, it might be changes in traffic on your street, who knows? But that’s really what you’re talking about.

John: Yeah, competitive landscape, pricing. There’s so many different factors, right? Where you need to really understand what you’re getting yourself into as a business owner so when you’re starting, pivoting is so critical so that you don’t get stuck because that’s so important. You don’t want to continue trying to figure out even though you had a business plan for two years. You stuck with it, you maybe should be pivoting it after a couple months if it’s not working, right? And that’s so critical, right? To be successful anyway.

Roger: Exactly, you must be open to it even businesses in the mature phase of their, you know, life of the business. Things happen, things change as you say, you know, they changed main arteries to downtown’s and all of a sudden your location is no longer getting a bunch of traffic. Things will happen and that if, you know, caused you to, “I’ve got to change things.” But I will tell you human nature, John, people don’t like change. They look at it, we’ve always done it this way, it worked first in the past so they’re kind of adverse to doing this but pivoting really should be embraced.

John: Yeah and if you want to be successful if you want to be, you know, be doing it for a very long time. You need to figure out not only how you differentiate but how do you continue differentiating and standing apart from the new competitors coming into your space, right? I know we’re talking to a lot of local business owners here today but even if you do have a local service kind of company where you’re a plumber or a roofer. There’s gonna be new competitors coming in your space and they’re gonna be offering way better, maybe possibly price or service or vehicles or equipment, their supplies or people whatever it may be. You need to figure out what they’re bringing to the table and how you can pivot and figure out how you’re gonna be different.

Roger: That’s right, it’s your business, you know, your competitive advantage if you’re losing that competitive advantage because you were the only business that had this particular product or service and now things are changing. You’ve just got to switch your competitive advantage, you’ve got to reach out and say, “Okay, I’ve got it. Not rely just on this revenue stream. I must pivot to look at other ways of bringing a business.”

John: Yeah and you know, as you mature in your business, right? You know, 5, 10, 20 years in business. It’s very hard for you to pivot because you’re so used to just that constant stream of your clients, right? And you maybe forgettable pivoting, right? And that’s when you gotta be very careful because that’s what competitors will come in and start taking your clients away, right? So, you just have to remember as an entrepreneur, first couple years you need to continue to pivot and even throughout the years you need to continue to pivot and figuring out what your competitors are doing are very important especially if they’re in a hyper-competitive space. You need to know what key differentiators they have and you need to know if yours is as solid, right? If there’s a market for it or not.

Roger: Exactly, there’s a great show called Silicon Valley. We look it…I think it’s season number two or season three and they have to pivot it whatever software they developed. It’s a great show and sort of talked about whatever we built here. The competition was taking over. We have to and it’s run on the show late. They were not joking but it was, we need to pivot so that’s the secret.

John: Yeah, and after reading The Lean Startup, pivoting is so critical for a lot of young startup companies, right? You know, you have this…A lot of VC money, you have a lot of funding but you know, whatever you have written and go to market strategy might not be the best out there, right? Like until you kind of figure out who your customers are, the ones that are purchasing your solution, you won’t know, right? And all this R&D and all this technologies that you put forth might not be the right kind of solution.

Roger: And you as a business owner and entrepreneur you went into business knowing, “I have confidence in myself, I’ve got a good product, I got a good business, you know, offering in here. At the end of the day it’s about taking risks. You took a risk to get into business, you’re an optimist so you say, “Listen, if I see that my sales are coming down over here. I have to grow my business, I need to pivot, I need to look at other things.” It really is…It’s a natural thing although it is something that goes against human nature in terms of change.

John: Yeah and it’s very challenging especially when you put in so much time and effort to put that together in the business end, right? And you got funding and they’re the ones who kind of said this is, you know, a good thing that you’re doing but again it all depends on, you know, if you want to stay in business and you want to continue to be successful, you need to continue to pivot to do so.

Roger: Exactly, so in terms of being open to change, watching the landscape as a business owner. See that things, you know, pricing, product, competition, traffic, things just change. We actually, John, the truth is we live in a disruptive environment now. Whether if you have a, “This is the greatest cellphone today.” There’s a new one coming down the line. If you have the best computer. There’s another one coming. Whether it’s technology, Netflix streaming, you’re a cable company you gotta pivot. You gotta figure out a way to, you know, make sure your business thrives.

John: Exactly. Well, thanks a lot Roger.

Roger: John, thank you for your ideas today and thank you and we’ll see you again at Local SEO Today.