As the phrase goes, "The only thing constant is change." Customer habits, behavioral trends, current events, financial considerations, technology, and a whole host of other outside factors are constantly throwing curveballs at businesses large and small. Adaptation, foresight and a bit of fearlessness is absolutely essential to stay competitive.

Successful companies don't look at change and feel immediate dread, or that their previous diligence and well-considered assumptions are for naught and invalid. To pivot is to set your sights on an untapped journey, one that will open a bevy of opportunities that previously may not have even been on the radar.

Adapting to shifting customer wants and needs is what keeps companies relevant and inspires loyalty. In fact, pivoting doesn't mean you were naive to the concerns of your audience - it's the opposite. It means you're locked in and ready to give people what they really want, even if it's totally different than what you set out to give them at first.

These companies are among the many that made a name for themselves after a successful pivot.

Nintendo

The history of the video game giant is at once fascinating and seedy, with the company acting as a sort of GE facsimile for most of its first 100 years. It wasn't until the 1960s that Nintendo began making games and consoles, but unlike its forays into playing cards, vacuum cleaners and rice, this one stuck.

Even as its systems and games became more sophisticated, the company has looked to stay on top by bringing its properties to new spaces. The explosion of Pokemon Go wasn't a pivot away from gaming, but it did represent a double-down for Nintendo on what it does best, opening up new avenues in the mobile space. Even the new Switch system is a melding of traditional consoles and the play-anywhere desires of Nintendo's target audience.

Having a worldwide brand behind you means you don't necessarily have to be first in your space to break ground with innovation, but Nintendo repeatedly understood that its audience would dictate where it went next, not the other way around. Plenty of once-strong competitors fell by the wayside because they failed to recognize the evolving wants, needs and desires of their audience.

Moven

The brief "neo-banking" trend seemed right on point in the early part of this decade as more and more physical entities were experiencing obsolescence at the hands of mobile. Moven was one of these non-chartered banks.

It aimed to educate users with real-time purchase feedback that would hopefully lead to better financial management decisions. Not a bad idea in concept, but the banking industry as a whole wasn't as ripe for full-on disruption as Moven hoped.

Now, the company works with banks, leveraging its technologies to bring established institutions into the digital age. Consumers were wary of depositing their paychecks directly into a neo-bank, but they liked the wealth management solutions Moven and similar companies offered. With its pivot, Moven was able to expand on its strengths and find new ways to penetrate the market.

Reesio

The founders of Reesio (real-life real estate brokers) tried to disrupt their own industry from the inside-out. What started out as an app designed to empower homeowners to circumvent the real estate agent process (and fees) eventually pivoted into a tool used by agents themselves.

Why? There were just too many hurdles.

For one, the market was too small. Only 9 percent of homes are listed "for sale by owner"and the founders knew this. They believed a technology like Reesio in and of itself could overhaul consumer behaviors and bring that number way up, but in practice this didn't play out.

For a decision as life-changing as buying and selling a home, consumers still wanted to rely on the services agents provide. Reesio was ill-equipped to handle the volume of questions and concerns directed its way by homeowners figuring out the process.

With a larger market right in front of their faces, the Reesio founders pivoted their position and re-engineered their app to be a tool that helps agents better manage real estate transactions.

Tallwave

I have a particular respect for companies that have made a successful pivot because I know first-hand how difficult it can be. For Tallwave, it was a matter of not only honing and tightening our service offerings, but re-examining our brand and company point of view.

When we started Tallwave, we focused almost exclusively on helping early stage companies build products and take them to market. Our role was more of a trusted consultant than an agency, because there was a technology gap that required some elements of the process to be outsourced.

What we realized after several years was that the intellectual capital we had built was just as valuable (if not moreso) with enterprise companies. We shifted our focus to serve enterprise companies that were increasingly feeling the pressure and demand to innovate.

We learned larger companies were dealing with the same pain points as early-stage ones when it came to innovating, prototyping and acquiring new customers. Many lacked the resources necessary to transform their ideas into commercial success. Pivoting allowed us to fill that need. We became a start-to-finish solution that allowed us to be more hands-on throughout the entire lifecycle, which was more true to our DNA and supports start-ups to billion dollar companies.

Published on: Jan 19, 2017
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