The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.11

Saturday, March 18, 2023

What is a pivot, and when should you do it?

If you have eagle eyes you will have noticed that this newsletter has a new name - The Accomplished Solopreneur, or TAS (instead of The Weekend Solopreneur).

This is a “pivot” - something that changed in my business. 

In this particular case, it’s a small pivot (you could even argue that it’s just a rebranding of my newsletter), but pivots are an important part of the growth of any business, and even small ones can make a big difference.

So what is a pivot?

A pivot is when you change something in your business while keeping other things the same. In my case, I changed just the name of my newsletter and kept everything else the same. This is a small pivot.

But you can also do “big” pivots. You could, for example, completely change your target market while keeping your products and services mostly the same. Or you could completely change your marketing messages (the problems you solve).

I did that some ten years ago when I changed my struggling solopreneur consulting business from helping business owners get business clarity to building highly engaged teams.

No one wanted business clarity - they thought they already had it. But everyone wanted highly engaged teams. Ironically, I used exactly the same tools and methodologies - but I was solving a problem everyone knew they had.

The first version of my business never took off, but the second did - because I pivoted to something that my target market wanted.

Examples of pivoting your business

Here are some examples of pivoting your business:

Change your positioning (Value Proposition)

This is probably the most common type of pivot, and is how I pivoted my consulting business. My initial positioning was “I will help you get business clarity so you can grow your business faster” - and as you’ve heard me say before this positioning did not get any traction.

But when I changed my positioning to “I will help you build highly engaged teams” things turned around.

In the business model world, this is often referred to as changing your Value Proposition - the value I offered my clients changed, the tools (products, workshops and so on) stayed the same, and my business went from struggling to successful.

Change your target market

Instead of targeting, for example, large corporations with your products or services, you could focus on small- to medium sized businesses. Similar offer, similar value proposition, but dealing with small- to medium-sized businesses is a lot different than dealing with large corporations.

(Or you could, of course, go from small businesses to larger businesses.)

Change your pricing

Substantially changing your pricing - without changing other parts of your business - is not something you see often. However, it can be a useful starting point to think about pivoting your business.

For example:

How would your business need to change if you doubled your prices today? Don’t just think “this will just price me out of the market” - I challenge you to take 10 minutes to think about how you could do this.

There’s a reason some people charge multiple times the average - and it’s usually not just because they provide multiple times the value.

Change your branding

Sometimes a new haircut - or a new piece of clothing - can make you feel like a new person. Your brand is your business’ clothes, voice and personality, and sometimes refreshing what you look (and sound) like can give you new energy.

But do this carefully - the world is full of examples of rebranding gone wrong.

When (and how) should you pivot?

The (simple) answer is that you need to pivot when what you’re doing now isn’t working.

But here’s the problem - and let me try to explain this with an analogy:

It’s difficult to see the label when you’re inside the jar.

In other words, you don’t see your business the way the world does. When you try to look critically at your business “from the outside”, you’re doing so with all your pre-knowledge, understanding and beliefs - so it’s difficult at best to see what others see.

I have two strong recommendations:

1. Get outside opinion

Ask others what they see. Don’t ask people who have a vested interest in your business, and don’t ask family. Ask someone who has nothing to lose by telling you what they see. Past clients can help (even if your work with them didn’t turn out that well), or a mastermind group.

If you’re stuck, ask me. I’d be happy to tell you what I see. And the quickest way to do that: reply to this email with a link to your website - no more.

2. Test before you pivot

Once you’ve decided that you need to pivot, you will come up with lots of things you can change that you believe will do the trick. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you’ve found the one thing that will fix everything - that didn’t work the first time.

Test a new product, positioning or approach with a small number of clients - even one will do to start. If results are promising, test with another client - and perhaps one or two more.

Why I changed the name of this newsletter

The original name of this newsletter was The Weekend Solopreneur. It was inspired by other newsletters (also targeting solopreneurs), and they were successful so I thought I would copy what they do.

And it was OK - until Michael (a weekly Mastermind compatriot) said something blindingly obvious:

“I got your newsletter, and just looking at the title I wanted something more inspirational. I’m not just a solopreneur on the weekend, you know!”

This made me think. To me, at least, The “Weekend” Solopreneur conjures up images of someone working 9-5 and then doing a side gig on the weekends. But I don’t just target solopreneurs working on a side gig in their spare time - my ideal clients are solopreneurs at all stages of their businesses, and many of you are way beyond the weekend side gig.

So after a bit of brainstorming, The Accomplished Solopreneur became the favourite, so here we are.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a small pivot. But it’s more true to who I am, the people I want to help, and what I do - so it’s been worth it.