Why pivoting could save your business

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Created by husband and wife team Cameron and Melody in their hometown of Melbourne, Active Creatures is a luxury sportswear brand for people and their pets. Their design philosophy is to create stylish, comfortable sportswear for women, and beautifully designed jackets and coats for dogs.

However, this is not what the pair had in mind when they launched their business in 2014, when they began designing and producing clothing for women who did pole dancing as a fitness alternative. It was niche, to say the least.

They were also doing very well both here and overseas, rolling out shows in Las Vegas and securing resellers in the USA and Europe. But the pole dancing industry (even internationally) is small, and the two came to the conclusion that for their business to move beyond being a ‘hobby’, they needed to find a profitable niche.

So the moral was, a niche business is good, but you you need to be able to make enough money. That’s when they pivoted and turned their focus to women’s sportswear. They didn’t get enough traction going toe-to-toe with the big players.

Cameron started to notice that when customers would repost themselves in their clothing on social media, there was often a dog in the photo. The more they became aware of it, the more they saw it. Dogs lying down in the background of an image, posing, or photo bombing a shot of a woman dancing or practicing yoga – it almost became comical how frequently dogs would appear.

And so, they pivoted again and they have since carved out a new category that they can call their own.

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Cameron and Melody don’t see their pivoting as failing, more like growing up. Now the three year old online startup is thriving. Over a 12 month period (from May 2016 to May 2017) Active Creatures increased the average basket size of online purchases by 39.75%.

The pair do wonder if the reason we have such a high failure rate for start-ups in Australia is because owners are locked on to what their business idea started life as, and either miss the opportunity – or don’t take the opportunity – to pivot towards success. Pivoting can be a bitter pill but it beats the alternative of shutting up shop.

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