When should Startups Pivot?

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Pivoting a startup can be a good idea for many reasons. It can be a great way to fix problems with your product, to address user feedback, or even to re-target the audience you’re trying to attract.

But the reality is that it’s rarely an easy decision to make. When should you pivot? And when should you stick with your original idea?

Is your business model broken?

One of the most common reasons for pivoting is when you realise that your business model is broken.

If you find that users aren’t willing to pay for your product, or if they don’t want it enough, then pivoting could be a good way of addressing this problem.

By changing your product or service, you might be able to create something that users are willing to pay for — even if it’s not exactly what they wanted before.

Is your product not working?

If you’ve spent months or years developing a product, it can be hard to accept that it just isn’t working. But if you keep putting time and effort into something that isn’t working, then you’re wasting valuable resources.

If your product isn’t meeting users’ needs, then pivoting could be a good way of addressing this problem. If you can re-design your product to make it more useful, then you might be able to attract more users and generate revenue from them.

Is your user base too small?

Another common reason for pivoting is when your user base is too small to generate significant revenue from advertising or subscription fees.

This is often the case with B2B startups — where they need to find large numbers of customers in order to justify their development costs.

By changing the way that they target users, or by offering a new service or product instead, they might be able to attract more customers and generate significant revenue from them.

Is your product being used in the wrong way?

Many products are designed to be used in a specific way. If users aren’t using them in this way, then they may not be generating the revenue that you need.

For example, many consumer products are designed to be bought by a user and used for a certain period of time — before being thrown away or recycled.

But if people are buying these products and using them in a different way, then you might want to pivot your business model so that it generates revenue from their use over time instead.

Are users not buying your product?

If users aren’t buying your product, then pivoting could be a good way of addressing this problem. If you can redesign your product or service so that it meets users’ needs better, then you might be able to attract more customers and generate revenue from them. This is often the case with B2C startups — where they need to find large numbers of customers in order to justify their development costs. By changing the way that they target users, or by offering a new service or product instead, they might be able to attract more customers and generate significant revenue from them.

Are users giving negative feedback?

One of the most common reasons for pivoting is when you realise that users don’t like your product or service enough — or they don’t want it at all.

If you keep working on something that people don’t want, then you’re wasting valuable resources — so pivoting could be a good idea here too.

By changing your product or service, you might be able to create something that people will want after all — even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted before

Are users asking for something different?

When users give you negative feedback, it can be hard to accept that they’re right. But if they’re asking for something different, then pivoting could be a good way of addressing this problem.

If you can re-design your product or service so that it meets their needs better, then you might be able to attract more customers and generate revenue from them.

This is often the case with B2C startups — where they need to find large numbers of customers in order to justify their development costs.

By changing the way that they target users, or by offering a new service or product instead, they might be able to attract more customers and generate significant revenue from them.

The right time to pivot

As you can see, there are many reasons for pivoting. So when should you pivot?

The right time to pivot is when your product or service isn’t working, or when users aren’t buying it.

This might be because the business model is broken, or because the product itself isn’t meeting users’ needs. It might also be because your product isn’t being used in the right way, or because users are asking for something different.

But if your product is working well and people are buying it, then pivoting could be a bad idea.

You should stick with your original idea and keep developing it — rather than wasting valuable resources on something that isn’t working.

How long does a Pivot take?

One of the biggest problems with pivoting is that it can take a long time. It’s not always easy to change your product or service, and it can take a long time to attract new users.

If you’re trying to build a startup in a fast-moving industry, then pivoting could be risky. If you try to pivot your business model too often, then you might end up with nothing at all!

For example, if you’re developing an app for people who want to share pictures on social media, then pivoting could be risky.

You might want to pivot your business model into something more useful — like an app for social media managers who want to manage their clients’ profiles.

But this will take time — and if users are expecting your app to do something else instead, then they might lose interest in the meantime.

About the Author

I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.

You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.

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Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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Alexander Lim

Alexander Lim

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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