I have had to change direction in my life unexpectedly. Many things go through your mind – especially fear and panic (what am I going to do next?). Through a lot of soul searching and chats with family and friends (and the crying and more panic), I now feel a lot more positive and I realise that changing direction is not something to be fearful of – it should be embraced.

In fact, I do not see changing direction as a negative.  Also referred to as ‘pivoting’, many well known individuals and businesses have had to change.  It forces us to re-evaluate and determine whether the things that we believed are still valid and true, or whether an alternative path, product or direction should be sought. To help anyone else who may be going through uncertainty (as this also helped me), I have detailed below 3 examples of businesses who have ‘pivoted‘ successfully and the takeaways which I had learnt.

Netflix is an excellent example of a successful pivot. It was founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph and started out as a DVD mail order business. It recoginised that the use of DVDs were declining, so it started to move into video on demand via the internet. Now, (as we all know), it produces its own original programs. RECOGNISING when you need to change direction and then following through with it is key. Ensure you have a PLAN or create a plan if you had to pivot unexpectedly. Whilst my change is unexpected, I see it as a positive as I will be able to start something which I had long wanted to do, but not yet had the chance.

On the flip-side, not changing or recognising that a change is required can have dire consequences. The now defunct Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netfix at a price which now seems like pocket change. Unfortunately, at the time Netflix was loosing money on its DVD mailing business, so Blockbuster clearly thought it would be taking a risk. Understanding the RISKS involved in any change can help you to strategise your next move and at least try to avoid the unexpected. However, not taking up opportunities when they arise could be a detriment. Unfortunately, we know how Blockbuster ended up.

If you have pivoted, you will most likely at some point need to REDEFINE your business as a result, to make sure it’s description represents the new model (or create a new one). When Twitter first started in 2006, it was part of Odeo and was defined as a status update tool. However, it later realised that this was not an accurate reflection of the business, and identified as an information network. When you redefine who you are, you have to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what the business (or you) represent going forwards. It will also make it easier for your customers to understand you.

Treatwell is another example of pivoting. It was founded in 2008 and started off life as Wahanda, a UK spa and beauty marketplace where customers could view deals for spas all over the UK. It was brought by Recruit in 2015 and re-branded as Treatwell (which was an existing brand in Europe), and is now a major spa and beauty booking platform across Europe. REFOCUSING and letting go of the past helps you to move forward – even if that means leaving a business (or idea/job) behind.

The decision to pivot can have a big impact on your life, your business or your family (or all of the above). It cannot be taken lightly, but by having a plan and knowing where you are heading, you will soften any blows and ensure that you keep moving forward to reaching your goals.

Keep pushing and keep believing!