Time to Pivot? Knowing When Your Business Needs to Change

Sales are down. Clients are abandoning you for your competitors. You keep staring at your business plan, but none of what you see on the screen excites you anymore — and even worse, none of it is actually selling.

That’s what it looks like when an established, formerly successful business winds up in free-fall.

Changing business conditions are a difficult reality in every industry. New products shake up established trends, buyers decide they want something different, or maybe the old way of doing things just gets stale. Eventually, though, you find yourself and your business on the road to becoming obsolete.

That’s why it’s important to always be checking in with your business plan, with your business goals, to ensure that you’re still on the right track. But simply measuring your progress toward your goals isn’t enough — you also need to constantly re-evaluate your goals to ensure that where you’re headed is where you want to go.

So what happens when you’re tired of the direction your business has been headed? You pivot. Here are just a few tell-tale signs that a pivot may be in your near future.

You’re No Longer Feeling Passionate About the Business You Started

Businesses take work to build and maintain. And if you’re not enjoying that work, you’re probably not going to feel invested enough to do what it takes to succeed. That’s why it’s critical that you start a business you feel passionate about — and that you periodically check in with yourself to ensure that you’re still passionate about your business.

That’s what happened when Jessica Richman and Dr. Zach Apte founded uBiome. Both founders had run startups in the past, but the idea of changing the world through gene sequencing so gripped them that they dropped everything else to pursue it.

People change, and sometimes, old passions become stale. If you’re no longer enjoying running your business, it’s a clear sign that something is amiss. You don’t need to close down your business and move into a completely different industry, but you do need to take a hard look at your business practices, your products and services, and your target market to identify opportunities for improvement.

Your Operation Has Outgrown Your Ability to Manage It

If your business has outgrown your ability to manage it, then it’s time to pivot.

Success: It’s something we all want.

But one thing that few people realize is that success brings its own challenges, its own hardships. And if you’re not careful, you may find those challenges too much to handle.

When you start gaining real traction in your business, you’re going to find your revenues growing quite substantially — but your workload is going to grow as well. Eventually, your business may grow to the point that you’re no longer able to manage it on your own — you’re working 16 hours a day, guzzling coffee with reckless abandon, unable to keep your dozens of appointments and deadlines straight.

If your business has grown beyond your ability to manage it, then it’s time to pivot the original business idea. For solopreneurs, that could mean taking on a partner or productizing your services. For established business owners, that might look like creating new management roles or finding more efficient ways of solving your customers’ problems by developing new products and services.

The Market Wants Something Else

Business journals all around the world are full of stories of entrepreneurs who started a business, worked on it for a few years, but soon discovered there was no market for their idea.

If you’ve developed a product or service that just isn’t selling, if your sales leads are telling you that they don’t need what you offer, it’s a likely sign that you need to develop a different offering. Maybe you’re using a pay-for-performance revenue model when your clients expect a retainer agreement. Perhaps you launched your business during the tail end of a short-lived consumer buying trend, and now there’s no more interest in your offer.

No matter the reason, it’s important to listen to the market and try to meet it where it’ll be in a few years — not where it is right now.

Pivoting your business can be difficult — it’s hard to give up on an idea you invested yourself into — but if you’re smart, a pivot could be the best move you ever make. And at the end of the day, the only way to run a business is to stay in business — no matter the cost.


I’ve been helping groups of employees, large and small, to plan and achieve objectives for over 27 years. I started newEra after spending 25 years in the corporate world doing quality assurance, operations and team management. Way back in the beginning I earned a technical diploma and then along the way an MBA from Royal Roads University; my goal is to bring expert-level strategies and theories with a solid understanding of how to apply and implement them to get results. Over this nearly three decades of experience I’ve been fortunate enough work with many exceptional people in the forest industry, office furniture manufacturing, and an office furniture dealership. Through all of this I always had a sense of continuous improvement from a personal level and a career perspective. It was this that lead me developing Your SWOT Analysis and launching a formal program that fits well with my natural skill set and industries that rely on processes and skilled technicians who desire to grow their business while continuing to work in it. Contact me today to get your operational plan for making big strategic moves.