Getting the Most out of Professional Pivot

Getting the Most out of Professional Pivot

Most everyone on the planet is familiar with Instagram.  First launched in October 6, 2010 on the App Store, it became the top photo-sharing app that same day.  Eighteen months later, Facebook acquired the app for $1 billion in cash and stock.  But did you know the first concept of Instagram was called Burbn.  Burbn was a multifaceted app that allowed users to check-in, post plans, and share photos.  It was more of a FourSquare competitor than the photo-sharing powerhouse it is today.

What caused this professional pivot? The founder of Burbn, after receiving venture capital investment, started building out his team.  The two eventual Instagram founders, realized that photo-sharing was the most commonly used component of check-in apps, while also seeing that other mobile photo apps had cool features, but lacked any social component (does anyone remember Hipstamatic? ).

So how does this story of a company pivot have any bearing on you?  In today’s economy, many people will be forced into making career pivots.  We have seen teachers become private tutors.  Uber drivers become GrubHub drivers.  And of course, most have had to pivot from working in an office to working from home… while watching kids who are not in school.

How are you making that pivot?  Have you been laid off or your business closed due to social distancing and need to change careers or adapt to a “new normal”?  Let’s look at some other examples of pivots people have made.

Other examples of pivots are:

  • Alcohol distilleries are creating hand sanitizers
  • Sommelier offering virtual wine tasting and pairing menu, shipped to house
  • Wedding and family photographers are becoming graphic designers
  • Journalists are becoming copywriters
  • Manufacturers moving to medical supplies
  • Restaurants becoming grocery stores, selling the raw foods to make your favorite foods at home
  • Professional seminars going from in person to recorded video lectures combined with live

For some of these examples, the effected person adapted an existing skill set: teachers becoming tutors, sommelier’s offering virtual wine tastings. But others have become more creative: restaurants selling their raw goods or distilleries moving from spirits to hand sanitizer.  But what is the underlying theme here?

As you look to make a pivot by choice or being forced to, the first step should always be self assessment.  What are your natural talents and what do you enjoy doing?  While we cannot always love what we are doing every day, finding enjoyment and meaning in your job allows you to bring a passion that will help carry you through the lulls of any day.  And of course, your natural talents will allow you perform at the highest level as quickly as possible.

Once you have taken stock of your own abilities and talents, look for a hole that needs to be filled.  If looking for another role within a larger company, this comes from job postings and networking.  But if starting your own business, or adapting an existing business is more in the cards for you, finding a chokepoint and creating a way to relieve that chokepoint will lead to success.  Instagram saw it in connecting the features of other mobile photo apps and creating a social platform around that.  Airbnb saw the lack of hotel rooms when major conferences come to town (as well as offsetting high rent costs). Restaurants are operating like grocery stores.  Personal trainers and boutique fitness centers are loaning out equipment and doing virtual sessions.

We are all adapting.  Even if you are still in a secure job, working from home is an adaptation.  While we all want to return to normal, none of us know what that will look like. But using this time to innovate with your pivot can help you and those around you grow in ways you may have never known was possible.

About the author:
Evan is the Investor Relations Consultant for Ashcroft Capital.  As such, he spends his days working with investors to better understand their investment goals and background.  With over 13 years in real estate, he has seen all sides of real estate from acquisitions, to capital raising on the equity and debt side, to operations, and actively invests himself.  Please feel free to connect with Evan here.

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