Throughout business history companies have had to learn to change their original intentions to find a business that would actually be successful. Some of the most well known businesses today started out whit an entirely different idea from that which they are now extremely successful with.
Learning why companies have made the decision to pivot can result in a more successful pivot and could eventually lead to the ultimate success of your business.
1. Change Perspective
Sometimes it’s merely about changing the way you are selling your product. Starbucks is a prime example of this. The now unavoidable coffee shop that can be found on nearly every street corner started out selling espresso makers and coffee beans. Nearly 12 years after the company first began, Howard Schultz decided to actually brew and sell Starbucks coffee and to create the coffee shop atmosphere we now take for granted. Starbucks did not significantly change what it was actually selling, it changed how it was selling it. And you can still buy the coffee beans or espresso machines Starbucks has to offer, right after you have your freshly brewed espresso.
2. Create a Focus
At the beginning of a new company it can become easy to lose focus and come up with a million great ideas. And while there is nothing wrong with valuable ideas, sometimes it can become overwhelming. When it comes to a product, all you need is one solid focus to become successful. Take Instagram for instance, it started out as a check-in app that included gaming elements and photo elements and was called Burbn. The creators decided that it was far too cluttered, and had too many potential actions, so they stripped away all the features but one: photos. This app is now known for its clean simplicity, just as the creators desired. Instead of trying to do it all, the creators stepped away and decided to be very good at one thing. And that has made all the difference for their company.
3. Listen to Your Audience
Sometimes the ideas will come from the very people you are trying to sell. In Yelp’s case, the company began as an automated system for emailing recommendation requests to friends, but users preferred to just write reviews for local businesses for fun. This sparked the way we use Yelp today. In the age of the internet, consumers have more of a voice about their products and this gives businesses a rare opportunity to listen to what our customers have to say, and improve upon the product.
4. Utilize Your Own Struggles
Sometimes the best ideas come from your own struggles. The founders of Shopify, Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake, identified a need they had for their own small snowboard business: an online shopping cart. After much searching and no success, Lütke created his own and made his solution available to other small businesses with the same problem. This just goes to show that you’re usually not the only one with a specific problem, and latching on to that new idea might actually get you further than your snowboard business. Business opportunities are everywhere, its about keeping your eyes open for them.
While some pivots are a bit more extreme than others, keeping an open mind and working to improve your business model can ultimately lead you to Starbucks or Instagram sized success. Whether these ideas come from the users or from your own new interpretation of your product, being open to new ideas and open to pivoting as a company can lead to great results.