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Updates from Chicago Booth

Let your customers tell you when to pivot
Small-business owners can get guidance by surveying their own customers
By Pradeep K. Chintagunta – William Wrigley Jr. spent many of his childhood years selling his father’s Wrigley’s Scouring Soap on the streets of Philadelphia. So when he set out for Chicago in the 1890s, Wrigley did what he knew and brought the soap trade with him.

Had Wrigley stuck to his original plan, it’s unlikely his name would stand today as one of the most iconic in Chicago business history. Instead, he took some calculated risks and pivoted his business twice.

Wrigley had been tossing in packages of baking powder as an incentive for purchasing his soap. When the baking powder proved more popular with customers than his soap, he made it his main product. Soon he realized that his new bonus product, chewing gum, was an even bigger draw, and he changed his focus again. The rest is history.

Despite evidence that pivots can improve productivity and competitiveness, businesses aren’t always eager to make changes. It’s difficult to consider experimenting with a business model that has worked in the past, and many small-business entrepreneurs may not feel as though they have the time and resources to do so. more>

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