“Pivoting” It’s a pretty common word in the small business world (and sometimes even with larger businesses, too), but when a lot of entrepreneurs hear that word they become concerned that their business is failing.
That’s definitely not the case. Sometimes pivoting a business is a good thing. If the industry has changed or your business has stalled out, pivoting can bring new life back to it.
A pivot for my guest on Success Unfiltered, Justin Gold of Justin’s, made a huge POSITIVE difference in his top line sales.
Industries and Businesses Change Frequently
Often when we start our businesses we are laser focused on our one end goal; it might be growing to $1M in sales, or maybe it’s being able to hire a full team to support you, but either way, in the beginning you only know of one way to get to that goal. Which typically has everything to do with starting the business you’ve been envisioning.
You have singular focus and can’t see anything else!
First of all, this isn’t a bad thing, focus, hard work and determination are how you will achieve any goal, BUT if the industry you’re in shifts, people’s desires and wants will change too. That means you may need to pivot.
In 2004, when Justin started making his own nut butters, it was pretty uncommon to see them on store shelves. He was a vegetarian and was looking for something full of protein that he could eat, so he began making this for himself. He knew it was good when his roommates started eating it too! He decided then that he’d set his focus on getting onto store shelves at Whole Foods.
After going around and around and building some strong relationships (listen to him tell his full story on the podcast), Justin made his way into Whole Foods. People were buying, but he was charging too little because he wanted to keep costs low so his product would sell. He feared that if he began charging too much no one would buy.
At the time, he had the market cornered on nut butters and he wanted to keep it that way, so he needed to figure something out, something that would allow him to raise his prices on the jarred butters, but also allow people to buy what he made with a smaller investment.
Pivoting in Business Often Means Expanded Growth
When you pivot, you often encounter a whole new untapped market, full of people who are interested in what you have to offer. They just haven’t found you… YET!
Pivoting can also mean the building on the solid foundation that a business already has going for it, which typically will mean more revenue, because you’re not only selling or offering your initial product or service, you now have more out there for a whole new group of people who are interested.
Justin’s original goal had been to create jarred nut butters and get them on the shelves in Whole Foods, but while out mountain biking he realized that when he needed an energy pep-up, he would use some sort of sugary energy packet, which wasn’t what he needed, he needed something with high protein that could help sustain him in a tough workout.
This sparked the idea of the Justin’s nut butter packets that you see on store shelves, today.
This was a completely untapped market! The only foods that were in packets were things like, energy packs, ketchup and hair conditioners. When Justin reached out to the companies who did this kind of manufacturing, no one wanted to work with him because they didn’t want to have to share their lines with a nut butter. Nut allergy alert! Which is when Justin realized he just needed to take a MAJOR (but worthwhile) risk, and borrow money to purchase his own squeeze pack maker.
Obviously, this wasn’t tested, but Justin’s initial idea was to put the nut butter squeeze packets right in the energy packet aisle. That way, anyone looking for something that wasn’t laden with sugar, would have another option.
It didn’t work, people were too busy sticking to their list to really observe what else was available. As Justin says, ”If you’re not on the list, you’re not in the cart.” He knew he had a great idea, he just wasn’t sure how to make it work, so he parked himself inside the Whole Foods store and watched and observed what consumers were doing for hours day in and day out
By observing and watching, and actually paying attention to what people were doing with the product (even if they weren’t buying it), he was able to figure out what to do next.
This is something that you can do in your business, too! If you feel like you’ve become stagnant in business and like you’re not growing the way you had hoped, try taking a different angle. What things could you do to entice more investors or clients to try your products or engage in your services?
It doesn’t have to be a HUGE pivot, it could be something small, but think about it. I’m sure there’s some idea brewing in the back of your mind.
The Best Comes After the Rest
Justin ended up asking Whole Foods to place his packets directly next to his jars of nut butters, and you know what? They took off! People now understood, simply by their placement, what they were and obviously loved the idea!
The part that made the biggest impact, was that people weren’t just buying the packets to be used as energy shots, but rather as a way to control their portions. They wanted a way to enjoy something decadent and delicious without worrying about their calorie intake. Justin had NEVER considered this, which once again opened him up, to a whole other niche.
When you start out and you have that laser focus, you don’t see the things around you. Your eyes only see one thing, and what’s happening around you gets unintentionally ignored, and that’s okay. Keeping your head down and focusing on your goals, is often the only way to get something amazing accomplished, but when you start to feel a slip in business, it’s time to look around and observe what you might be missing.
Look at the data, track your sales, what is your audience asking for, etc… Part of the process of an entrepreneur is making conclusions on what is and isn’t working. Don’t be afraid to do this and don’t be afraid to pivot!
In the end, for Justin, the increase in packet sales, increased the sales of his jarred nut butters, as well. It lit a new spark in him and helped him take his products nationwide!
Shifts in your business aren’t always planned for and they’re rarely expected (at first), but they most often lead to new and successful products and services and increased sales!
Do you take the time to rediscover and re-imagine your business and how to keep increasing your sales, or do you allow it to ebb and flow naturally? Tell me in the comments!