15 Signs That It's Time To Pivot Your Business
Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.
A startup business usually begins with a singular focus, with defined plans and goals in place. Yet, as time goes on, market forces, new technology or even waning enthusiasm may make it necessary for a business to change its strategy in order to stay relevant—or survive.
Even in the face of market changes, many entrepreneurs may be hesitant to upset the status quo, unsure if it is really necessary or not. To help, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council provide one clear signal that shows a business is ready or needs to pivot.
Members of Forbes Coaches Council detail the signs that show it’s time to pivot your business.
1. Customers And Employees Are Leaving
The two biggest indicators for organizations needing to pivot their business strategy are whether customers and employees are staying or leaving. This is particularly true in our current subscription world, where monthly recurring revenue rules the day. If your best talent is leaving and your customers are either apathetic or leaving at a high number, pivot quickly. – Heather R. Younger, J.D., Customer Fanatix, LLC
2. Your Business’ Health Doesn’t Match Your Market’s
If your business is going in the opposite direction of your market I would be worried. If the market is growing and you are flat, be worried. If the market is declining and you are growing, I wouldn’t be bragging, I would be looking at my business model versus the market. These are clear warnings about your business model versus the market. Start a strategy review and speak with your top 10 clients. – Gene Russell, Manex Consulting
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3. Your Brand Is Beginning To Lose Momentum
The worst thing that a business can do is deny that they need to change in order to continue growing. Once a brand’s momentum is stalled it’s only a matter of time before they get so far behind their competitors that they can never regain the market share that’s been lost. Hyper vigilance on external market forces and the willingness to change and evolve is the only way to ensure success. – Elizabeth Pearson, Elizabeth Pearson Executive Coaching
4. Customers Are Asking For Change
If your business strategy is customer-centric, then your clients will reflect back to you when you should consider pivoting, because your products or services will no longer be a good fit for their needs. If you keep your ears to the ground and dialed in to what your customers want and need, then the urgency for change will be transparent when your clients tell you that you’re missing the boat. – Carolina Caro
5. You’re Not In Compliance With Regulations
State, local and federal laws change every year. If your business moves from compliance to noncompliance, you need to immediately respond, ensuring you are in compliance. Think about how Sarbanes-Oxley and the EPA, FTC, SEC and FDA have changed industry. Outside of these federal agencies look at the laws that govern your city and state. Survive and thrive by anticipating change and staying in compliance. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro
6. Competition Is Entering Your Space
Businesses have an opportunity to disrupt themselves before they are disrupted. Good business leaders have a 360-degree view and are always keen to new and different competitors trying to enter their space. Leaders should get ready to pivot when they see competitors entering the “edges” of their space and compete with them there. This will likely mean a change or tweaking to strategy. - Barbara O’Malley, Exec Advance
7. Company Morale Is Low
There are other signals besides market forces. One that comes to mind is company morale. This can be a significant factor. Do the employees still believe? People on the line and those with customers know what is going on. Are they free to make decisions with a pivot? – Randy Block
8. Key Stakeholders Are Hinting At The Need For Change
One clear signal that a business needs to change to survive is when the whispers of your key stakeholders change. Are your customers asking about subtle shifts in what you are offering them? Are your employees nudging you toward new ways of thinking to allow them to serve your clients better? Listen to those whispers before they become shouts, then shifts will feel doable instead of scary. – Sandy Schwan, Evolving Strategies LLC
9. Aspects Of Your Business Aren’t Gaining Traction
Pay attention to what aspects of your business are and are not gaining traction. If one area of your business is gaining traction and others are not, that is a clear signal that you should pivot and focus on where your success is occurring. Too many businesses waste time on products and services that are not competitive or when there is too much competition to develop a brand. – Brad Federman, F&H Solutions Group
10. Your Energy And Excitement Is Low
If you’re noticing a lack of motivation or excitement to move forward with your business, it’s a sign that it could be time to make a change. This can show up in various ways, emotionally or physically, such as being burnt out or physically being tired or feeling fear. To course correct, revisit your values and why you started the business. Let that exploration and information revive your strategy. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching
11. You’re Regularly Losing Customers
It’s one thing to lose a few clients or to have a fluctuating market share, but when you regularly lose customers to related businesses, it’s time to evaluate your strategy. Just as technology changed the way we rent movies, you must adapt your service offerings and convenience to compete. What worked yesterday may not tomorrow, so plan to research and get feedback from customers to keep up to date. – Erik Fredrickson, Erik Fredrickson Coaching
12. Sales Are Consistently Declining
Business pivot points can be hard to predict. However, being pivot-ready is a perpetual requirement for any business that wants to survive. External market forces and unforeseen developments are driving businesses out of the marketplace at an alarming rate. A clear signal that a business needs to pivot is a decline in sales. Maintaining a robust sales pipeline proves that a business is pivot-ready. – Lillian Gregory, The Institute for Human and Leadership Excellence
13. Margin Earnings Are Decreasing
By the time you know your profit margins are in jeopardy, it may already be too late to make the shift your business needs to scale and grow. If you and your executive team are clueless, then better predicting, adapting and managing of change will be needed. Smart leaders understand the power of street smarts and intelligence gathering, internally and externally across vendors and service partners. – Jay Steven Levin, WinThinking
14. Customers Are Leaving In Search Of Better Fees
One clear signal is that your customers who love your service are leaving for another to save on fees. This is not an indicator of poor service; it is an indicator that you are in a “red ocean” where your service or product is now a commodity and price is undercutting your business. Review your business model and identify new products or services to add or markets to expand into. Move fast, move now. – Bobbie Goheen, Synthesis Management Group
15. Your Market Share Is Stagnant
When your market share, through forecasting three years out, becomes stagnant, it’s time to shift. This transition can be done by focusing on your people. An evaluation of your people is necessary to ensure they are in the right seats. Once this is done, implementing a good training regimen and a regrounding of the company’s vision and mission will help your business through the pivots. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience