NCET Biz Tips: Pivoting for success

Kellie Lee

Kellie Lee

Is it possible to prepare for change? Every day we are pivoting through life, whether it’s in business or in our personal lives, we are constantly pivoting or navigating through decisions that can either move us into the future we have always desired or keep us stuck in “Groundhog Day”-like scenarios going nowhere.

In business, there may come a time when you look at your company and realize it’s time to pivot! Pivoting is part of any business experience.

Whether you are a startup, or full-blown business, you must grow and evolve. Operating in an uncertain environment, we all must learn to rapidly change course – or pivot – If we want to stay in the game.

Pivoting is really an essential part of business experience. In fact, very few successful businesses are still doing what their founders originally envisioned.

Pulling off a pivot is hard.

Yet for every successful pivoting story, there are countless cases of companies you’ve never heard of because they failed to recognize that survival depended on a pivot or failed to execute it successfully.

Think about your IP and technology, your team, and partners, and even your brand name and marketing efforts — they all need to be revised in an abrupt process, that can only succeed if you have the right mindset and the necessary agility.

Can you prepare your business for pivoting well in advance? Can you be agile, and nurture the cognitive flexibility of your team so that you are able to adapt once you hit the wall? Fortunately, the answer is YES. There are five steps to be aware of in pivoting for success:

Know the possibilities are endless, that there may be more in store for you:

• Realizing the interchangeability of your innovation and where else it may be applied is the first step in developing this all-important flexibility.

• Review the relatedness with existing products and customers:

• Once you have a clearer picture of your landscape of opportunities, try to evaluate the relatedness of these possible future directions to your current field. Relatedness means that developing and delivering the product for both options-require relatively similar resources and capabilities.

Keep your backup and growth options open:

• Some of these related opportunities could offer an attractive future direction- either for backup or for growth. A backup option is one that you will want to pursue if you are not successful with your current strategy. A growth option is an opportunity that you will want to pursue once you are successful with your current idea.

Scale the New:

• This requires innovations to be lifted from a perpetual cycle of pilots to auto pilot to identifying the winning innovations that will provide the business with future revenue streams. This may involve partnering with other start-ups or partners to determine how to get to mass-market and industrial scale. This shift can mature the business into something new.

Pivot wisely:

• Timing is critical to identify when the new initiatives start to become as usual, and when to shift to the new business. This is a difficult task to pull off- but it is necessary.

Part of making an effective pivot is planning for one. Understanding that pivots are part of being in business and preparing in advance – both strategically and mentally – is critical for your success.

Learn about Pivoting for Success at NCET’s Biz Bite on March 22. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at

Kellie Lee is creator and CEO at Rowdy, LLC ( and passionate about creating honest and clean food products, so her customers can live their rowdiest lives.


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