Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The power of the pivot for small businesses

By Brivo

  SVTIf you watch basketball for any amount of time—and how can you not with the ongoing coverage of March Madness?—you’ll notice that the players pivot when they encounter a pick or a guard playing man-to-man. The players don’t retreat to the backcourt. They don’t start again. They pivot and look for an open pass or shot. As a small business owner, you do the same thing every day. When your original plan fails, you don’t scratch it entirely. You study it and think of ways it can be applied in different settings. That’s what our CEO, Steven Van Till, did when his original idea didn’t go as planned. He didn’t give up on the idea. He just looked for a new way to use it, leading to the emergence of Brivo as a successful physical security company. How did he do that? Four thoughts:

1. Modify the play.

Brivo originally began as a service that ensured secure storage for packages delivered to homes. It utilized a “smart box” that connected wirelessly with the Internet so that only homeowners and other authorized users could open it. It was a good idea, but it collided with the 2001 Internet bubble. The company staggered. What to do now? The answer was modification. Van Till and the Brivo team took the “smart box” idea and applied it to larger boxes, i.e., buildings. The company pivoted and transformed from a package security service to a physical security one. Van Till says, “Just because a business model doesn’t succeed in one domain doesn’t mean it can’t still be successful if applied elsewhere.”

2. Keep moving.

Once you have a new direction for your idea, keep moving with it. It’s too easy to lose initial momentum if you slow down. Just as you become sluggish if you quit moving mid-game, so does your business direction. “The key to preserving momentum,” says Van Till, “was to turn our backs on the past and look forward.” That doesn’t mean you should ignore the past. Just don’t let it dictate how and where you move. Use the past to inform forward movement and keep moving.

3. Get off the fence.

“Don’t straddle the old and the new,” Van Till says. “It only leads to indecision and lack of action.” If you’re going to try something new, try something new. Don’t hang onto an old idea while trying to move forward with a new one. Both will fail if you do. Keep your eye on the prize.

4. Make sacrifices.

You don’t get to the Sweet Sixteen without a lot of dedication and sacrifice. The same is true of your small business. Killing your original dream is painful, but think of the new dream unfolding before your eyes. Focus on it. Choose what you will and will not sacrifice to achieve it. Once you have your game plan and priorities set, get to work. You may still have to take two steps backward to move one step forward, but you’ve learned to pivot. You’re smart and flexible, two qualities Van Till says are crucial to small business owners launching a new product or service. How about you? How have you pivoted to make your business a success?