Is it Time to Pivot? How to Recognize the Signs

When we think of pivoting, we often think of the strategic shifts that ultimately lead to the long-term, financial viability of a business. But most people who pursue entrepreneurship aren’t just after the earning potential. They want also want to do work that helps others in a meaningful way, expresses their passions and interests, and supports the kind of lifestyle they want. So what happens when the business you’ve built doesn’t give you any of those things?

As a smart, responsible adult, whose professional reputation and financial obligations heavily influence your decision-making, you’ve probably debated with yourself a dozen times whether or not to call it quits with your business. While you’ve been oscillating between being all-in or completely checking-out, your business has been suffering.

Here are three unmistakable signs it might be time to move on:

You’re not motivated by the work you do

When you’ve been at it for several years, it’s common and natural to lose that zeal you initially had for your work. Being entirely unmotivated by your work, however, is a very different situation.

People who are motivated by their work are personally invested in it—putting in the effort to consistently understand their clients’ goals, assess their specific challenges, and customize solutions that help their clients get what they want.

If you find that you’re disconnected from your clients, disinterested in what they’re working on, and even apathetic toward their challenges and desires, this is a clear red flag that you’re just not that into your business anymore.

When you’re unmotivated by your work, it’s usually evident in the way you approach your client relationships, from how you communicate with them to the level of attention you give to the service you deliver. Even if you’re “polite” it may still show, because your work essentially becomes less of priority to you; and unconsciously, you’re putting it on the backburner in favor of something that’s more appealing.

You’re not motivated to promote your business

Part of what helps your business stand out are the successes you’re able to share as a result of your services. Being reluctant to make these wins public is telling of how you really feel about your business.

Proud business owners brag, humbly or otherwise, about the work they do and the results they deliver. They publish testimonials on their websites, share success stories on their social media profiles, and present case studies related to their services, because they want the world and prospective clients to know they’re doing great work.

If you find that you’re intentionally keeping quiet about these successes, or don’t have any recent ones to speak of, this is an obvious indication that you’re not getting the opportunities you really want—so you don’t want to replicate that.

When you’re not motivated to promote your work, you run the risk of an eventual dried up revenue pipeline, because you aren’t doing anything to perpetuate a consistent flow of new business. If you’ve been relying solely on referrals and repeat business to get by, you’re essentially relying on a wing and a prayer to sustain your business; and that’s not a practice of savvy business owners who want to stay in business for the long-haul.

You’re not motivated to plan for the future

No one can predict the future with absolute certainty. It’s one of the challenges and thrills that make entrepreneurship so exciting. However, being short-sighted about the future of your business is an indication of its shortened life span.

Entrepreneurs are generally optimistic about the future, even without being 100% sure of how things will turn out, because they know where they want to end up. So they establish milestones, set goals, and make plans, based on where they know they want to be.

If you find that you don’t think beyond where your business will be in the next few months (let alone the next few years) this is a glaring warning sign that you don’t really believe your business has a future.

When you’re not motivated to plan for the future of your business, you can run into a myriad of problems, ranging from frequent feast-or-famine cycles with your revenue to overloading your capacity (taking on too many clients than you can feasibly handle), because you’re basically flying by the seat of your pants—waiting to see what will happen instead of anticipating it. It’s worth mentioning that this is one of the fastest, most direct paths to burnout.

Is it Time for Shift?

If any of these signs resonates for you, chances are you’ve either chosen the wrong business model or the wrong business focus altogether. You wouldn’t be wrong to choose to shift focus and pursue a new business opportunity that aligns with your ultimate career goals. But that isn’t the only option. You can also choose to dig in and create the foundation you need for your business to thrive on your terms.

Deciding how best to move forward depends on what success means to you. In my next column, I’ll help you figure that out. You’ll learn the key questions to help you define sustainable success on your terms. You’ll also learn the factors that determine what the next chapter of your business and entrepreneurial career will look like.

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