Navigating Crucial Business Decisions — How to Know When to Pivot and When to Persevere

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Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads with your business plan in hand and worrying about whether to keep going along a familiar path or take a new one? This is the typical dilemma for entrepreneurs: knowing when to make a U-turn and when to keep going. It is a choice that determines the success of your business and requires not only intuition but also knowledge of the market, your business and your vision.

When running a business, effectively making those choices is a combination of strategic thinking and introspection. Here, I will provide ten step-by-step strategies that brought me to this point, and now I can confidently say that they are not only reactive but proactive and empowering as well.

Related: The Art of Navigating ‘No’ — When to Persist, Pivot or Give Up and Pack it In

1. Seek market feedback relentlessly

One metric that can determine the necessity for a pivot is general feedback from the market that your product does not answer an essential need. When consumers raise the same issue consistently, this is not mere coincidence; it is data. Conduct a thorough examination of this response, and look for patterns and trends to decide whether any changes are required.

2. Monitor industry trends very closely

To be on top, one must be in the know. Do we witness changes in consumer behavior? Is your industry being replaced by a new technology? When the water flows the opposite way and the products you have to offer now might soon be replaced by better ones, it’s a good indicator to adapt. For illustration, I turned my retail company into an online-first operation before my competitors, and this allowed me to take a lion’s share of the market in the early days.

3. Analyze your financial condition

Numbers don’t lie. On top of that, financial reports at short intervals can reveal if you are on the right path and if your current way is sustainable. When your business starts to see no growth, or when profits are consistently low, you may want to revisit your strategy. If there is no profit, one can end up depleting resources and morale.

4. Clarify your vision

Sometimes pivoting is not about failure but about reconsidering and adjusting the strategy. As businesses keep changing, so do entrepreneurs. Leaving no stone unturned to revisit the business vision will make you stay aligned with your goals. If there is a gap, then it may be time to pivot to ensure your current operations are aligned with your long-term goals and objectives.

5. Get the most out of your team’s experience

The team is your feet and eyes where you are not. Involving them in strategy discussions can sometimes shed light on aspects you may have missed. A hesitation in the execution of the vision could be an indicator of certain problems with the strategy. In some cases, however, if their attitude is positive and they are determined, it suggests that perseverance will be rewarded.

Related: Knowing When — and How — to Pivot Is Key to Your Business’ Survival. Here’s What You Need to Do.

6. Trust your gut, but support it with facts

As an entrepreneur, I have learned to rely more and more on my gut feeling, but I firmly believe that the best decisions are the ones that are based on data. The combination of intuition and solid data analysis will give you the certainty that your decision to pivot or persist is not gambling but considered risk-taking.

7. Testing before you leap is the best way to go

Introducing some minor, controlled change can facilitate dipping your toes before deciding to go all-in with a complete turnaround. Approaching it this way has prevented me from making snap unwise decisions that could have been costly. This saves you the trouble of having to gather data about the new direction that could be risky.

8. Think about the allocation of resources

Are you flexible enough to make the changes quickly? A successful pivot usually requires investment of capital, development of new skills and perhaps even company culture change. Estimating your resource capability is a must. It might be more prudent to focus and optimize what is working rather than trying to take on everything and stretching your resources thin by pivoting.

9. Seek scalability opportunities

Would your current business model grow fast enough? If not, this might be the case to switch course. Examples include adding a service component to a product-based business, which would create new revenue sources and engage more customers. Such engagement could scale better than only physical products.

10. Have patience and persistence

Last but not least, be aware that perseverance is not about sticking to a plan blindly — it is about adapting and improving your strategies on a regular basis. Patience pays off. Even when the desire to jump ship is overwhelming, reflect on the possibility that subtler modifications in your current plan may lead to better outcomes.

Related: Perseverance In the Face of Adversity Is the Sign Of True Success

Making the decision of whether to pivot or endure is never an easy path. It entails a mix of courage, wisdom and intuition. Through implementing these strategies, I’ve not only taken my businesses to the next level but also contributed to the evolution of them in ways that paid off and, most importantly, brought me satisfaction.

Be aware that every business is different, and the decision of what to do — pivot or continue — should be unique for every particular situation. These key points will serve you as a compass, not only to face but also to conquer the entrepreneurial journey along the way.

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