Last month, Style magazine reported on the latest business buzzword, the "pivot" pointing out that Youtube (now worth about $70 billion) was once a failing dating site before it did a "pivot" and became the hugely successful video-sharing platform it is today. Likewise, Instagram pivoted from being a middle-of- the-road gaming app to becoming one of the world's leading social media forums.
A pivot can happen quite by chance or a business can be forced to pivot when it underperforms or even fails. More often then not, however, businesses will choose to pivot when they spot opportunities and become familiar with their strengths.
So while "pivot" is being brandished about as the latest buzzword, perhaps it is simply a reminder of the importance of diversification.
PR agencies, for example, are a case in point. Traditionally focused on media relations, most will now offer a spectrum of services including internal communications, social media strategy, media training and copyrighting. Likewise, while a PR agency may specialise in one sector, most will seek a broad range of clients within that sector to help avoid conflicts and to ensure that expertise is constantly being improved upon.
So while a full-blown pivot may be unnecessary, a growing business, like a dancer, should always be be flexible. After all, variety is the spice of life and who wants all their eggs in one basket?
It may seem hard to believe, but back in 2005, YouTube was a failing dating start-up — the founder even resorted to offering to pay women $20 to upload videos of themselves to the site. But then it did what those in Silicon Valley call a “pivot”, to become the unfathomably successful video-sharing platform that’s now worth about $70bn. Similarly, Instagram pivoted from being an utterly avoidable check-in and gaming app, to become one of the world’s most popular social-media channels.