The Nudge Series #4: How To Pivot After Failure And Five Successful Business Pivots!

It’s time to check in on a myth about entrepreneurship.

MYTH: You only get one shot to succeed as an entrepreneur, and if you can’t nail it on your first try, you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. 

FACT: Just because your first business fails or doesn't go exactly how you planned, it does not mean you are a failure as an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, climbing the latter in your career will not be a walk in the park, so you have to be deliberate in choosing the path that will work for you. You can not let the journey take the wheel; you have to take the lead. I think persistence. From everything that I have ever read or learned on entrepreneurship, from experts who have nurtured and helped thousands of businesses, they say persistence is the number one trait of a great entrepreneur. Giving up should never be an option. You have to learn to adapt and be flexible and most importantly, master the art of pivoting.

Did you know that Twitter started as Odeo or that Starbucks used to only sell Expresso machines? Even some of the most powerful and influential brands have had to pivot and you should always keep that in mind when you are building your brand. Here are some examples:

Twitter

The shift of Odeo into Twitter is the most significant pivot in social media history. Odeo started as a network for people to find and subscribe to podcasts however, a ranch was thrown in their plans once iTunes entered the podcast niche. With some help from its employees, they were able to make a major shift and pick back up with a new name and format. This is where Twitter was born; a status-updating micro-blogging platform conceived by Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone.

PayPal 

PayPal has always been known as a payment platform, but it has gone through many transformations before becoming what it is today. In their first phase, the platform was formed by Confinity in 1999 to allow customers to make payments from their PDAs (handheld digital computers, such as the Palm Pilot, an early manifestation of the smartphone). After merging with a financial services company called X.com, PayPal became the favoured online payment system, which catapulted the company as a globally known payment processing fame.

Starbucks

The coffee shop which now occupies every street corner did not always offer freshly-brewed coffee. In 1971, they were only selling espresso makers and coffee beans to customers. After Howard Schultz (current chairman, president and CEO) trip to Italy in 1983, he was inspired to brew and sell Starbucks coffee in a European-style coffeehouse. Soon after its major makeover, Starbucks became a global phenomenon.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular photo apps on I-tunes, but many people would be surprised to know that it started as gaming elements from Mafia Wars with a small photo element called Burbn. The creators worried Burbn had too much clutter and potential actions, and would never gain traction. So they took a risk and stripped all the features except for one: photos. They rebuilt a version of the app that focused solely on photography—it was clean and simple, and it paid off.

Pinterest

This incredibly popular “pinning” social network pivoted from “Tote” which allowed people to browse and shop their favorite retailers, and sent them updates when their favorite items were available and on sale. The creators realized that the users of Tote were mostly interested in building “collections” of their favorite items, and sharing these collections with friends. Since its repositioning, Pinterest now has over 70 million users with approximately 80% of its users being women. While its pivot has been wildly successful in terms of user growth, Pinterest is trying to figure out how to get back to Tote’s e-commerce and revenue roots.

 The lesson in all of this?  When you can, find an alternative, and try to remain positive and focused on the goal.