How the power of pivoting can help entrepreneurs grow their start-ups

Adaptability helps business owners to focus on core strengths

Conduct a review of your business operations on a weekly and monthly basis. Assess the challenges you are facing and see how you could pivot. Getty Images
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I may not have been very confident about some decisions in my life, but what I was certain about was the career path I wanted to pursue.

Ever since I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to work in the communications and creative field.

When I graduated from university, it was my plan to get as much experience as possible, so I could establish my own consultancy one day.

When that day finally came more than a decade ago and I launched my consultancy, I had numerous services on the list; some of which I was exceptionally great at compared with others.

The more, the merrier, I thought. I also believed that an extensive services menu would open the doors to a wider client base.

However, because my service offering was diverse, my client base wasn’t exactly niche.

I remember a number of customers telling me how they didn’t know what kind of clients I catered to because it wasn’t clear in the way I described my business offering.

In addition, because I offered a wide range of services, the areas I was great at didn’t stand out.

I knew that if I had kept at that rate, I wouldn’t be able to attract the clients I was targeting.

I learned that to truly stand out, whether in the consulting sector or the business world in general, my services had to be unique, something that other competitors didn’t offer and, most importantly, to offer services that I was great at and had a strong track record to show.

Realising when things aren’t going to plan and the need to pivot and change course aren’t always as clear as one may think.

At the beginning, I doubted myself, thinking I wasn't working on the projects I wanted because I didn’t have the skills or the market was too saturated.

But then I realised my business wasn’t focused and my competitive advantage was lost in the sea of services I offered.

So, it was back to the drawing board, re-evaluating my work and how I wanted to work from that day onward.

What many start-up entrepreneurs tend to not keep in mind is how many times they will have to pivot throughout the course of building their businesses.

In some cases, pivoting will happen within months, such as in my case. In other cases, challenges such as an economic crisis or unprecedented pandemics may force entrepreneurs to switch gears.

I’ve launched many ventures and learnt that everything I forecasted in my three- to five-year business plan may completely change.

Pivoting is something I always need to consider and include in my plans.

Some of the best things that happened to my career are when things did not go according to plan. Pivoting helped me to open doors that I didn’t know existed.

Pivoting helped me to open doors that I didn’t know existed
Manar Al Hinai, communications adviser

My advice is to conduct a review of your business operations on a weekly and monthly basis. Assess the challenges you are facing and see how you can pivot.

Doing so helped me to save a lot of time rather than focusing on the wrong areas. It also showed me where I could grow and develop my business further.

But here’s the thing about pivoting: Don’t wait too long.

In the business world, time is money and, as the saying goes: “When you snooze, you lose."

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications adviser based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: October 16, 2023, 4:00 AM