Pivot;  piv-ot,  noun: a shaft or pin on which something turns. The basketball player’s pivot surprised her opponent ;  verb:  turn, revolve, roll rotate. To change direction.  The door hinge pivots around the pin. change direction

In Eric Ries’ book “The Lean Start Up“, he used the word pivot to help businesses, especially small businesses, understand that moving forward often can mean doing a pivot, changing lanes or directions.  The major key to a pivot is not waiting until everything has fallen apart or going bad!  In most small businesses, the direction and energy of the company is directly tied to the owner.  Keeping your eyes and ears open to the economy, trends both local and global are the first steps. The next step is keeping goals and plans flexible and visible.

Once you have your plan drafted, it is time to Pivot and get moving. Here are tips to not face the Catch 22 of most entrepreneurs.

  1. Get Your Team on Board.  The people in your company or the stakeholders outside need to understand how your new direction will benefit them and the future of the company.  In a small firm, this may mean asking to give you feedback, provide ideas and sometimes validating your idea by sampling the market place.  When those who may see their jobs affected by change participate in creating the change, honest feedback will happen – be listening.  A pivot in business will mean reallocation of resources, so getting the team behind you early will make this process easier.
  2. Maintain a Revenue Stream  In a service firm, pulling a pivot off successfully can be assisted by selectively choosing to engage those new clients that fit your target market.  This will lead to doing repeatable, profitable, teachable work that doesn’t zap the creative energy needed to develop the pivot project and at the same time keep a steady stream of revenue while the new idea takes root and grows. 
  3. Focus Your Effort.  Putting all your energy into a new project is exciting and takes planning.  The ideal way to run a business is to focus on your target customer and when a pivot is in play, focus is even more critical while developing the new project.  Tight scheduling of when you will work on the new venture often sounds trite, but it does work.  Those of us that easily get distracted my find that the discipline of a schedule gets more work done.  Just think about how fast you cleaned your room when your Mom said, “you can’t do ____________ until your room is clean.”   Making appointments already keeps us on time for the daily drag stuff, why not for the next adventure!

The business world is full of pivots and new directions. Taking the opportunity to develop an idea is were there entrepreneur in us gets excited. The Catch 22 is if I’m not working on the day to day, how can I work on the new project – that is the PLAN.  Work the plan and you may be surprised.