There comes a time when every entrepreneur faces a decision about whether it’s time to pivot and change business directions in mid-stream. As an entrepreneur, your business was the tangible result of an idea that you believed held promise. So, you set out to design an action plan that would take your business from where you began to where you wanted to go. Along the way, things got a little bumpy: not enough cash flow; not enough time; not enough customers; not enough employees. Simply not enough, period. So, you tried other strategies, but maybe they only took you further from your goal. This is not what you expected. Where is the free time you expected? Where was the cash available to take extra family vacations? If you find that the marketing plan isn’t bringing in new prospects, and the sales plan isn’t converting into paying customers, it may be time to change directions in order to survive.
This is the time to take a hard look and make an honest appraisal of your business plan. This business road map may be taking you off course and away from the vision you have set for yourself. You now know that the business climate is always changing, so it can be expected that you will need to adjust or pivot directions as you continue the business journey. Successful companies will pivot from Plan A to Plan B or Plans C, D, and E if necessary, to stay competitive. As the leader and CEO, it’s up to you to decide if it’s time to pivot.
When you started your business, the public (and you) saw one entity. You were the face and personality of the business. As the business grows, it needs to take on its own image and brand. As the entrepreneur transitioning to CEO, there must be a dividing line between you, the owner, and the business that you run. When it’s time to pivot, let the company pivot to a healthier existence. Don’t take things personally with your business. Maintain a healthy attitude and let the company transition with your guidance.
When you are altering the trajectory of the business, you probably will find that your marketing efforts will need to increase. Not only is it time to pivot, it may be time to re-brand. If you have lost market share, you may need to find a new product or service to offer. By pivoting, you may be looking to change the message and create new opportunities for customers to buy from your business. If you need to increase your customer base that has dropped, check your sales and marketing systems. Simple pivots in these systems may help you turn the corner.
Use this time to pivot as a learning experience. The bottleneck for your business may not be the sales and marketing systems but may be more internal. The operations systems may be out of whack. Maybe the way you delivered your products and services has become too cumbersome and needs to be revised to become more efficient. Or maybe your staffing is no longer delivering the performance necessary to get things done in a timely fashion. When things start going awry, you need to look at the total picture and determine what changes need to be made to get back on course.
The days when a business plan could be researched, developed and implemented are gone in most instances unless your business is in a very stable industry environment. Don’t throw in the towel. But when it’s time to pivot, do your evaluation, make informed decisions and implement the changes as quickly as you can. Sometimes you will achieve winning results, and sometimes you will fall short of your expectations. In these times of shortfalls, be decisive and don’t be afraid to pivot.
Join us on this business building journey where we move from Entrepreneur to CEO. We’ll be examining how to get from simply making money to building a sustainable business in the following chapters. Look for our upcoming book, Entrepreneur to CEO. This article is a small portion of the content of the book being co-authored by The Our Shawn McBride and Ann Gatty. If you want updates on the book including the possibility of joining our release team or getting one of the first copies please join our mailing list here.
Download When Is It Time to Pivot with Your Business Plan? as a pdf.
About the Co-Author:
R. Shawn McBride, also known as The Our Shawn, works with successful, private business owners on ways to build companies to stand the test of time. He is all about empowering business owners, employees and others to live a life they love. He’ll work hard to make that happen for you and your audiences. The Our Shawn earned a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law and a CPA from Towson University. He is the host of the popular show, The Future Done Right. His experience in business, law and speaking means he can effectively deliver powerful results for you and your teams. Learn more about him at Planning Done Right.