In start-up parlance, to “pivot” means to change the main direction of the company in a very short period of time.
“We are no longer selling downloads; we are selling paid subscriptions.”
“We are no longer selling advertising, we are selling data.”
Some people don’t like to pivot- they think it looks weak. They think it indicates that you didn’t have a clue what you were doing in the first place.
And so rather than pivoting, like a bad General, the CEO stubbornly stands his ground and watches his stillborn business, rather than allowing for a retreat.
The thing is, pivoting isn’t a sign of weakness. Pivoting is a sign that you learned something today that you didn’t know yesterday.
And the thing about start-ups is, because you’re spending so much time in terra incognita, in a world of unknowns and new possibilities, learning new stuff is most of what the game is about.
Which means if you haven’t pivoted yet, it means you probably aren’t learning enough.
Bonus link: Seth’s great book, The Dip, is a treatise on when to quit and when to stick. It’s as relevant as it was when it was written.