I’m a huge basketball fan. In fact, I played as a teen, and it’s my absolute favorite sport plus it’s the only sport my son has played for the past 12 years. You’ll often hear me talk about the lessons basketball has taught me over the years and how those relate to business. And today is one of those days as we discuss pivoting in your business.
Pivot: In basketball, a movement in which the player holding the ball may move in any direction with one foot, while keeping the other (the pivot foot) in contact with the floor. The purpose of a pivot is for the player to remain in control of the ball while, not lose possession of it but move in a way they can make a clear pass.
In business, a pivot is very much the same thing. Think of all the stuff you’ve learned, your failures, your successes, your audience, as the ball you are holding. Your business is your stationary leg. The action of pivoting is when you take your current business and everything from that business and move it in a different direction for the purpose of getting a better result.
In basketball, once you are holding the ball with two hands, you have three options:
- shoot the ball
- turn it over
- pivot to try for a better pass
In business and basketball, the options are very similar:
- keep on going with what you have (shoot the ball)
- give up altogether (turn it over)
- pivot for a better chance of success (try for a better pass)
Most of the time in business and in basketball when you have the ball in your hands you don’t want to just throw it away, nor do you want to just fling it haphazardly in the air and just hope it’s going to get into the goal.
Instead, when the shot is nearly impossible and giving up isn’t an option either, the best choice is to pivot, in other words, use all that you have and make a slight change in direction in order to succeed.
Before you pivot in business ask yourself these 5 questions:
- How much time/effort have you put into your business?
- Is what you are doing, the thing people are asking you for?
- Are you still passionate about your business?
- Does my business currently have a clearly defined mission/purpose?
- Can I clearly communicate my competitive advantage, my strengths, my uniqueness?
Before you pivot here’s what to do:
Before you decide to make a slight directional turn in your business I encourage you to complete a business plan. By doing this activity your focus and clarity will become much sharper and you will be able to see exactly what direction to pivot, what to let go over, and where to move forward.
Once your plan is complete a pivot may be completely unnecessary because instead of pivoting you may have just needed a clear shot to your end goal. If by the end of the business plan you still don’t have that clear vision, then it’s time to find out where you need to pivot and make changes that reflect that need.