Unfortunately not all start-ups set out in life with one idea or one product that leads to that “mini unicorn”. Knowing when to pivot is vital for startup founders and will be explored here.

Take a look at Groupon for example. Originally, they started out as a platform for activism and fundraising. They are now widely known for their daily deals from spa days to sofas. A successful pivot and one that paid off.

Whilst we look for Founders who demonstrate perseverance and will, also knowing when it’s time to reconsider your product or your idea is more important. You can not keep working hard to sell something that the market doesn’t show any interest in. A good Founder will constantly be evaluating customers, feedback and take up, to decide whether it’s time to consider a pivot.

A pivot can take many forms

In 2005, Youtube launched, but not as we know it. Initially, it was designed as a dating app where users could upload a video talking about their ideal partner. Despite offering to pay women to upload videos of themselves, no-one came forward. They even had a catchy slogan “tune in, hook up”. So they decided to drop the dating element and allow any video uploads. They were acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion. You can read more about their story here How Youtube started out

A pivot could also involve targeting a different customer segment or even utilising different sales channels. During Lockdown where the demand for essential products has soared, Unilever pivoted to prioritise packaged food, cleaners and personal hygiene brands over skin care and other non essential goods.

It’s not an easy decision to make and therefore can be postponed by Founders who still hold the dream of bringing their original idea or product to life. This is where many start-ups fail.

Ensure that you don’t end up in the “land of the living dead” by holding regular pivot meetings where you have real valuable data to assess. This should include as much real life data as you can gather from customer feedback, website hits, orders placed etc. Also ensure that you have a good team who can help as a sounding board and who can challenge your desire to “keep going”.

Knowing when to pivot is vital for startup founders but not everyone is willing to take the leap.

Have you had to pivot your business in the last 12 months?

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Author louise@propeller-tech.com

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