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Define the Problem You Want to Solve to Pivot Your Small Business

Small businesses typically decide to pivot their focus because they’ve run into trouble. If your company faces some problems, the best way to focus your efforts is to zero in on the one big problem you hope to solve by pivoting.

Of course, everything in a company is interconnected, so identifying the root problem can sometimes be daunting. But the more sharply you focus on a single problem, the more successful you’ll be in finding a solution.

When a San Francisco-based landscape artist saw sales of her paintings slip during the downturn, she blamed the economy. She blamed the galleries that represented her work for not doing enough to market themselves. But when she honestly assessed her situation, she admitted that even in good times, she was barely making enough to consider herself a success.

When she bemoaned her situation with a business consultant friend, he suggested that maybe the real problem was her business model. She loved to paint. In fact, she created far more paintings than she could place in galleries.

Selling paintings in galleries took time, and the galleries took a substantial cut. Because each painting didn’t cost very much in terms of materials, he suggested that she drop the price for each painting and sell them directly on the Internet. A variety of popular Internet sites make it easy to display and sell works of art.

She pivoted her business by adopting a new business model — dropping the price in order to increase volume of sales. Within months she was selling two or three paintings a week and earning way more than she ever had by exhibiting in galleries.

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