Sometimes in the land of innovation, things don’t always go as planned. Often this means the innovator needs to rethink their plan and change things to make their product better and more marketable. In business terms this is called Pivoting. Pivoting can mean the difference between succeeding and throwing in the towel.
Knowing when to pivot can be crucial to success. Things to consider when determining the optimal time to pivot include:
• Is the product prototype performing at the expected and desired level? If there is underperformance this is a red flag towards pivoting.
• Company sales traction is low or non-existent.
• Funding is difficult to come by and raising money for your company has stalled.
• Market forces have changed.
If you are experiencing any or all of these it may be time to consider pivoting your project or business to something more marketable. Part of being a start-up or having a new product is the willingness to be flexible during development.
One you find the best time for your pivot, the next step to meet market demands is to use the right type of pivot. The best place to start is to find the strengths and weaknesses of your product or business.
If you find that a certain aspect of your business works, focus on that by using the zoom in/zoom out pivot method. This may mean narrowing your reach to customers who need your best product so you may need to zoom in. Should you need to change from offering only a small part of what is needed to the entire range of services you may need to zoom out and try to be a one stop shopping center.
It may be time to use the Business Model Pivot and reassess your business model and adjust it accordingly. It is not unusual for the business model to need changes as time goes on.
Not understanding the needs of your customers? A Customer Needs Pivot may be in order. It is crucial that companies understand customer needs so they can market their product the best way possible.
The Technology Pivot is a crucial pivot for any product that involves technology. We know that technology is changing at a rapid rate with new apps and services being offered daily. A smart company keeps up on the latest technology and seeks to update their product to compete.
This pivoting, or changing the aspects of a business or product to better meet market needs has proven successful for several well- known companies and products. One such product is the Blackberry.
Once a must have electronic device, the Blackberry sales have slipped as new technology such as IPhones and Androids, have offered competition. Sadly Blackberry has failed to stay competitive with their software.
In order to try to get back in the game, increase sales and stay competitive Blackberry is working on new software called “Secure Work Spaces.” The main function of Secure Work Spaces will be to allow for peaceful and secure co-existence of personal and corporate data on smartphones, including iOS and Android devices.
Blackberry has also announced plans to transition smartphone portfolios from six to four. Thus allowing them to focus on the best part of their product and using a zoom in to produce only what is most marketable. While this was an important pivot to try to help Blackberry stay afloat, sales were low.
Blackberry is perhaps taking a drastic step and ultimate pivot by deciding to go private. The company agreed to be acquired for $4.7 billion dollars. The private equity consortium Fairfax Financial has agreed to the acquisition.
By taking these measures, Blackberry is pivoting to accomplish restructuring, increase sales and product products that are in greatest demand. It is true Blackberry is not a start-up, but perhaps important lessons can be learned by their willingness to use pivots to save their business.
These are lessons all innovators can benefit from. When it seems nothing is working in your business plan or your product is unsellable, taking the time to use some pivots and regroup can make the difference between success and bankruptcy.
Many of the greatest innovators had to fail, regroup and pivot several times before they found the product or business model that worked best.