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Business Pivot - What Is A Business Pivot? Signs That It's Time To Pivot Your Business

While business pivot can give an otherwise failing company new life, it also requires you to start from scratch and abandon all previous investments in your company.

If you've been considering pivoting your business, you should be aware of the implications before proceeding.

What Is Pivoting?

When you realize that your current products or services aren't meeting the needs of the market, you can pivot. The primary goal of a pivot is to help a company increase revenue or survive in the market, but how you pivot your business can make or break it.

How To Know If You Should Pivot

Because so many companies have pivoted and achieved massive success as a result, it's easy for inexperienced founders to believe that pivoting is a magic pill that can solve any problem. In reality, pivoting should be considered only when absolutely necessary and all other options have been exhausted. To avoid making a hasty decision with your company, consider the following indicators to determine when pivoting makes the most sense:

Your Company Is Always Playing Catch-Up

If your company is not progressing quickly enough despite your efforts, you may need to consider pivoting. The company itself may not need to pivot, but your business, revenue model, product, or market may.

There’s Too Much Competition

Your idea may appear to be unique and original at first, but there's always the possibility that a larger company with more resources and funding, as well as a built-in audience, will come along and create an offering that's similar to yours, but better. Because you don't have much of a choice in this situation, your startup would be better off doing something entirely different.

Your Company Has Hit A Plateau

If you notice slow (or no) progress in the development of your company, it may have reached a plateau. This could be due to boredom, an unmotivated team, or simply an inefficient strategy, but a pivot should be considered. It doesn't have to be a major shift, but take an honest, objective look at your business and identify areas that can be improved.

One Thing Gets The Most Traction

If only one aspect of your company is succeeding while the others are failing or moving slowly, it may indicate that your company should focus on capitalizing on what is working while changing, possibly drastically, or completely abandoning what isn't. Depending on the strategy you use, your company can experience an increase in productivity, efficiency, and revenue by focusing on what works.

There’s Limited Response From Your Marketplace

You can do all the customer development and research you want, but just because someone says they would pay X amount for your offering now doesn't mean they will buy it six months later when you've built and launched your product or service. A lukewarm response to an offering's initial release does not usually bode well, and while marketing and public relations can help generate buzz, they can only go so far in convincing the world of the value of your product.

Your Perspective Has Changed

After you've launched your company and have been in operation for a while, your goals, vision, and values may change. Researching a niche and experiencing it firsthand are two entirely different things, and you may realize that there are other, more lucrative avenues for you to pursue, and that your current path is simply not for you.

Know When It’s Time To Persevere And When It’s Time To Quit

Every startup faces significant challenges on its path to success, but you must distinguish between an impediment and an impossibility. In other words, when times are tough, ask yourself, "Can this problem be solved with more research, customer development, funding, and so on?" If the answer is "no," and you really can't think of a solution, no matter how unlikely, you should consider pivoting.

Successful Business And Startup Pivot Examples

Willbur Labs, a San Francisco-based startup studio, polled 150 founders and discovered that 55% of them had to pivot their startups to avoid failure. Despite the fact that less than half of the founders polled were optimistic at the start of the pivot process, 75% reported success. Let's take a look at some successful business pivots.


Instagram logo on phone screen
Instagram logo on phone screen

The current platform evolved from a service called Burbn, a location-based check-in app.

Burbn's leadership stripped the application of virtually every other aspect — focusing exclusively on its photo, comment, and like functions — after noticing the popularity of its photo-sharing capabilities relative to its other features. The company eventually rebranded and became Instagram, the photo-sharing behemoth we know today.


Netflix logo
Netflix logo

While Netflix's convenient DVDs by mail model signaled the demise of brick and mortar video stores like Blockbuster, they, too, found the need to pivot and continue to do so.

As streaming video and movies became more popular, Netflix began offering a plan that included streaming movies and television shows in 2007. Streaming is now the most popular way for people to consume content.

Netflix did not stop with streaming. The company has also shifted its focus to content creation, launching the Netflix original series House of Cards in 2013. Soon after, Orange is the New Black debuted, and the streaming behemoth has established a successful model for other platforms to emulate.


Slack logo
Slack logo

It may be difficult to believe that Slack, the popular chat app, began as an online game. Stewart Butterfield's adventure game Glitch allowed players to inhabit the minds of giants and embark on quests with other players.

While the game had a small but devoted following, Butterfield noticed that the players were constantly conversing with one another while playing. The built-in messaging technology in the game laid the groundwork for what would become Slack.

Butterfield has a history of turning failed games into startup gold. His first attempt, Game Neverending, evolved into Flickr. He could be said to have mastered the pivot. Slack, a messaging and productivity tool, now has more than $10 million daily users.

People Also Ask

What Is The Pivot Strategy?

What exactly is a pivot strategy? Changing the method a company uses to achieve the same goal. There are many turning points in life, and some of the best stories include many of them. Even if they initially throw you for a loop, turning points frequently kick-start necessary growth and change.

Why Should A Business Pivot?

When a company pivots, it means that it is changing something about its core products or services. Businesses may pivot to better meet customer demand, to shift their target audience to increase sales, or to do both.

Why Is Pivoting Important?

Pivoting is an important part of establishing a scenario in which your company fully and successfully meets the needs of its customers. Pivoting can be defined as the process of determining product–market fit.


Pivoting is a difficult process. It necessitates a thorough understanding of where your company is headed, as well as a potentially drastic course of action. Still, if your startup is significantly underperforming or completely bankrupt, a pivot may be required to stay in business.

About The Authors

Keith Peterson

Keith Peterson - I'm an expert IT marketing professional with over 10 years of experience in various Digital Marketing channels such as SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMO (social media optimization), ORM (online reputation management), PPC (Google Adwords, Bing Adwords), Lead Generation, Adwords campaign management, Blogging (Corporate and Personal), and so on. Web development and design are unquestionably another of my passions. In fast-paced, high-pressure environments, I excel as an SEO Executive, SEO Analyst, SR SEO Analyst, team leader, and digital marketing strategist, efficiently managing multiple projects, prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines, analyzing and solving problems.

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