April 19, 2021

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14 Signs That Tell Owners It’s Time To Pivot Their Business

5 min read

For most business owners, there comes a time when you have to shift from what you’ve always done and try something new to keep your business growing. Pivoting in this way comes with both risks and rewards.

It’s not always clear when you need to shift gears, so you may not be sure if it’s in your best interest to change up your business model. To help you decide, 14 Forbes Coaches Council members shared clear signs that indicate it’s time to pivot your business. 

1. You’re Holding Onto Emotional Attachments

There are many indicators or trends that point to businesses needing to pivot: a decrease in market demand, lack of competitive differentiation, reduced profitability, etc.—all of which are reviewed on a regular basis by executives. However, emotional attachments are not usually assessed, even though pivoting from them may take a healthy dose of humility. Given this, I would recommend adding this to reviews. – Elizabeth Semion, Elizabeth Semion & Associates

2. Your Product/Market Fit Missed The Mark

When our product/market fit missed the mark, we knew we had to pivot. Initially, our product was aimed at one specific audience, but the biggest uptake and engagement came from a completely different audience! So we realigned our product development plans to cater to the needs of this new audience. It has certainly paid off, creating a strong foundation of loyal customers, which is essential to any business. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy

3. You’ve Hit A Plateau

Based on my clients and my experiences, there are many reasons to pivot in the business, especially in the current economy. The key is to know why and how, especially when you hit a plateau with a highly demanding product or service or when there is a little response from the marketplace. Pay close attention to data, trends and competition, as these are some early indicators. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute

4. Your Clients’ Needs Are Shifting

Your audience will guide you to pivot and create new solutions. This includes current and potential clients, as well as the economy and associated factors that may be inhibiting growth and sustainability. Being proactive with current market trends and client needs will give you an advantage in leading with your service. Keep asking the right questions and listen with the intention of understanding. – Reena Khullar Sharma, Agilis Executive Consulting


Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?


5. Your Clients Ask For Different Services

It’s time to pivot when your clients tell you so. I pivoted from a career-coaching business to a business-coaching business. My first clue to pivot was that more and more of my clients told me they didn’t want career coaching into a new corporate job. They wanted to learn how to replicate my business, ditch their 9-to-5 and become a coach. I also paid attention to where I felt the most people lit up. – Betty Kempa, Betty Kempa | Business Coach

6. You’re Not Excited About Moving Forward

When I started lacking the excitement to move forward with my business, I had to make a change. I loved my clients, but I knew something had to shift with my business. The signs show up in various emotional and physical ways, such as being tired, lacking focus or feeling fear. To pivot, revisit your values and why you started the business. Let that exploration and information revive your strategy. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching

7. You’re Spending More Than You Earn

In my first product business, I didn’t know when to pivot and lost everything as a result. When your output (money) exceeds your input, or you can’t afford to pay yourself, it’s time to pivot. The key to any successful business is sustainability, and that starts with you. Innovation and agility should be central to your business model. The pivot should be a part of your strategic plan. – India Gary-Martin, Leadership For Life

8. You Need To Address Industry Trends

You have to ask yourself some critical questions: What are the most important trends or changes in your business environment that will affect your strategy? Which of your current capabilities will you need to maintain, grow or strengthen? Where could investing more resources make the greatest difference to your clients? Which capabilities would differentiate you from your competitors? – Curtis Odom, Prescient Strategists, LLC.

9. You Define ‘Pivoting’ As A Reaction

Every businesses should have a culture of innovation and should plan pivoting into its annual activities. Throughout 2020, many businesses “pivoted” or “reinvented” themselves as a reaction. Some worked; most did not. You need to breed the desire to innovate and pivot in your company and in every employee every day. This keeps you ahead of your competition, disruption and crisis. – John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises

10. You’re On A Three-Month Losing Streak

The losing streak doesn’t seem to end for 90 days. Often three months of losses don’t turn around miraculously. You need to pivot. I think there is something to be said for ignoring one-quarter losses for big, publicly traded businesses, but not for small companies. One quarter should be all you get to register a loss, then it is time to change, respond to setbacks and move in another direction. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

11. Your Business Isn’t Producing Repeatable Results

It really depends on the type of business and your objectives. The first sign for me would be, “Is the current business model producing repeatable results?” Can you outline your next 10 orders? Without repeatability, you really haven’t got a business. It depends on other factors, such as, “Are you enjoying it?” If not, why would you want to put in your heart and effort into it? It turns into a job. – Andrew Constable, Visualise Solutions

12. You’re Doing The Bare Minimum To Get By

I’ve pivoted three times so far in my career, and I’m far from being done. In this fast-changing world of work, everyone needs to pivot at some point. Some more than others, but no one will have the same role in the next decade as they have now. You know it’s time when it doesn’t excite and energize you. Always doing the bare minimum to get by is another indicator, as well as lack of or shift in market demand. – Petra Zink, impaCCCt

13. You’re Not Getting The Results You Want

Results are your guide. If you aren’t getting the results you want, it’s time to change. Results can be your personal results (happiness, fulfillment) or business results (profit, revenue, clients). A pivot doesn’t have to mean a drastic change. It can mean a new target audience, a different message or a positioning change. – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

14. You’re Not Having Fun Anymore

“How much fun am I having with my business?” Regularly asking yourself this question provides an opportunity to see how much you are enjoying your business. It is also an opportunity to see if it’s time to pivot the focus of your business to something more rewarding and enjoyable. – Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES , CaffeinatedKyle.com