What is a Business Pivot and How Can it Hurt Your Company?

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What is a Business Pivot and How Can it Impact Your Company in a Negative Way?

Entrepreneurial and business topics are nothing if not rife with buzzwords.  Whatever the latest trend is must be branded with a memorable term.  And while chasing “synergy” or whatever the word-du-jour is may be relatively harmless, it’s not often that some flashy new expression carries with it meaningful insight.

And sometimes, the latest craze can actually hurt your business.  That’s the case for pivoting.

In fact, at last year’s ProfitCON I rubbed elbows with some of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs I have met. Unlike other events I attend, these entrepreneurs where planning out the year ahead by doing more of what was already working for their company.  Most entrepreneurs mistakenly revamp their company year in and year out, day in and day out. That, I truly believe, is a mistake.  Don’t pivot. Align.

What is Pivoting?

Pivoting is not just a label; it’s a mindset.  The idea is that you’re constantly looking for ways to tweak your business model in order to capture more business.  Okay, so that doesn’t sound so terrible on the surface.

But here’s the problem.  Assuming you started your business because you have a unique offering delivered up with excellent service, as you pivot you run the risk of moving away from what made you successful in the first place.

You may think that if you can just change up enough factors that you’ll enchant your ideal customer or you’ll arrive at some magically profitable stage.  But constantly changing the way your company runs — just for the sake of change itself — is a risky proposition.  Just like the child who pumps mountains of quarters into an arcade came, saving up buckets of tickets only to be disappointed when they redeem those tickets for a cheap piece of plastic, pivoting can end up being not only unrewarding, but also expensive.

So What’s the Alternative?

Alignment. And while there may be some of you who are skeptical that alignment is just another buzzword, read on!  Alignment, put simply, means that everything in your company works together to achieve your goals.  From the way you gather new customer leads to the way your technology works and the way you collect money, alignment seeks to maximize efficiency and quality while minimizing waste and inefficiency.

In order to achieve anything close to alignment, you must begin with a clear articulation of your mission, your goals for your company.  Not only do you as a leader need to understand what you’re trying to achieve, but every member of your staff needs to understand it as well.

Once you have your mission statement, you take a giant step back and assess every aspect of your business.  Determine if your customer service procedures are efficiently working toward your goal.  Look at your business with an eye for eliminating bottlenecks and streamlining procedures in order to achieve best outcomes.

You may wonder if pivoting and alignment aren’t really the same thing at the end of the day, but they’re genuinely not.  Pivoting isn’t efficient.  Pivoting consumes resources.  And pivoting doesn’t always result in better outcomes.

Alignment, on the other hand, has your company goals at its very core.  All of the changes you might make in pursuit of alignment are measured, specifically designed to bring your company closer to your ideal model.  The difference is that pivoting can eventually end up taking your company down a rabbit hole, while alignment is always focused on true north.  Pivoting might make you feel better and more productive for a little while, but it is alignment that will actually be more fulfilling and more profitable.

Managing Business Photo via Shutterstock

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Mike Michalowicz Mike Michalowicz is a globally recognized entrepreneurial advocate and is the author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. Mike can be seen as a segment host on MSNBC where he leads business makeovers, and frequently on news channels as a small business expert. He is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and American Express Open Forum.

One Reaction
  1. I am guilty of this. Always changing my mind when I found something new. You really need to have an idea and stick to it until you see that it doesn’t work.