Small Business Survival: The Pivot

Mike Grill // August 29, 2017

There are many small businesses out there that started with one idea or concept, ended up on the verge of failure, pivoted, and succeeded. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Groupon, HP, Apple, and even Sony all started down one path and saw a better path to success. A well timed pivot can mean the survival of your small business.


The Art of the Pivot

It seems to be rooted in the idea of satisfaction, does the pivot. If YouTube founder Steve Chen had been satisfied with a video dating site, or Mark Zuckerberg had been satisfied with a hot-or-not website, the world might be a different place – certainly, the internet would be different. Instead, these founders saw that their websites could be utilized for different purposes and these have become ubiquitous with the internet instead of also-rans in the tech boom.


A pivot where business is going well is probably the hardest: there might be no reason to change, but to avoid feeling satisfied.


Twitter’s story is slightly different: the owners realized that a podcast subscription service (Odeo) couldn’t survive with Apple taking over and assuming almost all of the known podcasts. Employees were given two weeks to think of a different direction for the company and Twitter was born as a micro-blog site.


As necessity is the mother of invention, the forced pivot to take a company from the brink is a bit more plausible. Stress can have a great impact on creativity.


Sometimes a pivot makes sense. Flickr began as an online RPG (Nevermore), but creators quickly realized that the photo sharing capability of the game was the most used aspect. They created Flickr by looking at what they were providing for users and expanding on that.


Leap of Faith

No matter what the circumstances are surrounding a small business’ pivot, it takes a bit of faith. Moving a company in a different direction can be a huge task, and there will almost certainly be some resistance. But it can be a wildly worthwhile undertaking.

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