How to Tell When It’s Time to Pivot

This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog.

Did you know Post-It notes were the result of a failure? It’s true. In the 1960s, a scientist at 3M tried to create a super-strong adhesive, but what he came up wasn’t as sticky as it was supposed to be. The product sat for five years, until a colleague came up with the idea of using the “failure” as a small, reusable bookmark. It took five more years of testing and changes before the product took off.

This is a classic example of a company pivoting away from the intended path to find a better one. Tom Sponsel, the managing partner of Sponsel CPA Group who has been advising entrepreneurs for 40 years, tells clients they should always be innovating. And that often means pivoting away from your business model.

Sponsel offers this advice for entrepreneurs who want to know when it’s time to pivot.

Because Market Acceptance is Low

When you’re bringing a new product or service to market, you should set goals for how well it will sell over a given period of time. If you find that your market acceptance is not coming close to matching your forecasts, that’s a good indicator it’s time for big changes.

Instagram began as a check-in app that included elements from the gaming field, but it was so cluttered that it didn’t gain traction. So the makers stripped out everything but photos and rebranded it; as a result it became one of the fastest-rising social media platforms.

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