How To Pivot Your Company Strategy

How To Pivot Your Company Strategy

From the very start of my company, our mission was simple: to make our clients happy. This effective mission kept us focused on the B2B track. Eventually, however, we noticed the B2C industry served a larger section of our customers. We believed a customer-facing model would help us positively impact more lives, and after seven successful years serving businesses, pursuing consumers seemed like a natural next step.

Unfortunately, we soon realized serving both consumers and their service providers would be a direct conflict of interest. Our mission couldn’t support both ventures — we had to choose one. Around this same time, we began to feel pressure from the investment community to exceed expectations.

A pivot toward consumers would be a bold and exciting move. We wanted to be a unicorn, bringing consumers a service that had never existed before. What we hadn’t realized about our grand plan to pivot toward B2C was that unicorns are rare for a reason.

A Servant of Two Verticals

Fast-forward to three months later: Because our original mission conflicted with this new direction, the pivot felt uncomfortable to our investors, and disconcerting for our customers. We saw other companies facing the same issue and ultimately choosing monetary gain over the needs of the customer — something we never wanted to do.

This didn’t match up with our stance as a company, so we felt we had no choice but to move back to B2B. Was this a failure? I don’t regret trying our hand at becoming a B2C company; after all, taking risks is just part of being a CEO. However, trying to satisfy what you “think” should happen for the company — like going public or moving to the B2C realm — is not.

I’m so proud we learned this lesson when we did, rather than six months (and millions of dollars) later. Whether you’re the kind of person who runs head first into new adventures or are the cautious type who weighs the pros and cons, the following commandments will ensure you stay true to your mission:

Commandment No. 1: Don’t lean on your own understanding.

During my pivot, I was fortunate to have a solid board of advisors backing me up. The board kept the company on track so we could focus on our true mission. This oversight gave us the freedom to take a risk, fail, and quickly recover.

Surround yourself with a strong team or board of advisors who can help you stay true to your course. Without an active board to keep me focused, it would have been easier to vacillate between ideas and not settle in the right place.

Commandment No. 2: To thine own self, be true.

Our “pleaser” mentality is what caused the initial pivot, but recalling our true identity stopped us before too much damage was done. We were able to settle back into our original mission to make a fair space for all advertisers.

To bounce back like we did, make sure you have a rock-solid understanding of your company’s mission and values. A strong grasp on your purpose will make your decision to pivot — or not to pivot — more logical and strategic.

Commandment No. 3: In all things, be courageous.

Reversing course can be a difficult decision, especially if you’ve already invested time and resources. It’s OK to have made a mistake if you can muster the courage to communicate it. Your clients and employees will appreciate your honesty.

Keep in mind that this step can be the hardest. We spent significant time and money building a site and structure, and it took courage and self-awareness to admit we were wrong. But when we did, our employees completely understood why we moved back to our original B2B model.

In the end, no one controls your company but you. You get to decide next steps and when to pivot. No matter where you are in your business, keep your mission close and your trusted mentors even closer. These pillars will keep you standing tall.

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