There’s no denying that pivoting may be one of the most challenging decisions a business owner may ever make. It’s a borderline between giving up on your business and starting something new.
However, there have been accounts of successful startups that wouldn’t have been where they are today if they hadn’t given pivoting a chance.
The communication startup, Slack, started as a gaming company called TinySpeck. However, it was the internal communication software that the company developed to communicate with their offices in the US and Canada which became what we know as Slack today.
Twitter was first a podcast library called Odeo. The platform was to be used to discover and subscribe to podcasts but could not compete with iTunes. So, they pivoted to be one of the most used social media platforms today.
The cellphone giant, Nokia, was milling paper before transitioning into the producers of one of the world’s most durable phones.
In the same way, this UK-based entrepreneur, Vithurs Thiru, founder of Blessed CBD, has shown that pivoting may be a rewarding experience if done correctly and at the right time. Today, his CBD brand is used by thousands of people in the UK, and the products are endorsed and backed by globally recognized athletes, such as UFC’s Israel Adesanya.
Laying the foundation
It all began when Vithurs (or V as fondly called) started dabbling with internet marketing at the age of 13. He often skipped class to pour through as many books as he could find about starting an online business in the library.
After almost 2 years of learning about online marketing, especially search engine optimization (SEO), Vithurs started his own business at 14 providing SEO services. It wasn’t long until his digital marketing business started catering to high profile clients all over the world. Under the company, Rankfluence, which he co-founded with business partner Jonathan Waller, he has worked with high-profile clients including Fortune 1000 companies.
To the ordinary eye, Vithurs’ swift transition from digital marketing to developing CBD products may look like a long shot. But his story shows how possible it is for anyone to leverage on skills and lessons learned to gracefully pivot into a new business.
Pivoting to the cannabis industry
Cannabis had been a controversial subject for so long but in recent times it has become an economic mainstay. Cannabis has captured the attention of people around the world and is accepted by different countries. 2020 was the year when cannabis broke new grounds as countries legalized the recreational use of cannabis. And the legalization of cannabis may lead to economic recovery.
Vithurs’ entrepreneurial instincts led him to explore the cannabis industry and the mass potential of CBD products in the UK. As more legislation was underway to legalize the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, he knew that the UK was a ripe market for CBD products.
The giant leap into the CBD industry didn’t happen until after in-depth research into the industry. No pivot should be done without having a full understanding of the market and the viability of a potential business move. You need to be prepared and weigh all your options.
Thus, it wasn’t the increasing interest in cannabis that made Vithurs start his CBD business, but it was his drive to fill a gap he identified in the UK CBD market. He noticed that the CBD products available in the UK were nowhere near as high quality as the ones available in the US. He found out that the level of cannabinoids in some of the CBD products available in the UK was unbalanced, thus making it less effective than it ought to be.
For something like CBD to help people with medical conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers, or to relieve pain, anxiety, and stress, the level of cannabinoids must be sufficient to be effective.
This discovery became Vithurs’ mission — to create a trusted source for all things hemp. So after almost 2 years of working behind the scenes, he launched Blessed CBD, with a range of CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules and CBD creams.
Coming from a digital marketing background pivoting to cannabis was certainly a stretch. However, it was the digital marketing background that gave Vithurs leeway to develop his craft as an entrepreneur. Vithurs didn’t just have a reason to pivot, he also had the tools to push his brand to as many people as he could, eventually disrupting the UK CBD market. With a valuation of almost £15m, Blessed CBD has already been voted the UK’s best CBD oil by the likes of Observer, Maxim, Manchester Evening News, Reader’s Digest, Mirror, Birmingham Live, Leicester Mercury, Express, My London, Hull Daily, Stoke Live, LA Weekly, Bristol Post, Yours, Daily Star and QuitNet.
Just like other big brands that pivoted in their business, Vithurs built on what he already had to target an audience that needed what he could provide. Plans are now underway to expand Blessed CBD to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Pivoting gracefully is possible
Consider pivoting in business an art. It’s about discovering the perfect point to pivot. The need to pivot is between the two extremes of quitting your business entirely and persisting in it. It’s at that sweet spot where smart businesses can thrive.
Every business goes through a pivot some time in its existence. A pivot can be initiated in response to your clients’ feedback or, in Vithurs’ case, a newly born interest.
No matter the shape or form of the pivot, you bring along its lessons and experience to build a stronger and successful business.
This is evidence that no business is perfect. There will be tweaks made along the way. But smooth transitions only happen when you’re building out of what worked to create something new.
Vithurs’ story highlights the keys to pivot gracefully. First, as a business acknowledge your strengths. Every experience acquired throughout one’s entrepreneurial journey is a stepping stone to a better business. Vithurs was great at digital marketing and has proved his skills through his boutique digital marketing agency, Rankfluence.
Next is to identify a gap or a problem in the industry. And finally, creating a product (such as CBD oil) that’s built with the mind of helping others. According to Vithurs, “business focused on genuinely serving others is always destined for success”.