Every Entrepreneur Has Had to Change Their Business Model in Some Way. Here’s How Some of the Most Successful Ones Did It

If you’re doing the same thing today that you did yesterday, chances are it’s the wrong thing. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re facing a business landscape that’s constantly changing, evolving, getting disrupted–and fiddling like BlackBerry at an iPhone release party won’t get the job done. So if your business model isn’t set up right now for future success, you’ll need to continuously anticipate, evaluate, and adapt. And if it is … same advice.

Of course, changes in strategy vary widely by kind and degree. Unless it’s early days for your company or something’s gone horribly wrong, you probably don’t need a full-on pivot from selling ice cream to developing bioweapons. In most cases, the sweet spot is somewhere between that and, say, Blockbuster Video trying to fend off obsolescence with higher late fees.

Sure, it’s all a lot to take on, but here’s a good place to start: We’ve spoken with a host of entrepreneurs who saw a storm coming, changed direction, and came out on the other side with a sparkling new ship. Open the slideshow above to learn how they ­transformed their businesses–and their advice for evolving yours.

Change Agents

Many of America’s highest-profile companies didn’t start with the business models they’re known for today. Here are some of the most interesting transformations.

GROUPON
BEFORE: A site that organized people to accomplish a goal and donate money to nonprofits
AFTER: A site for getting group discounts offered by merchants 

YELP
BEFORE: A business-search site based on referrals in users’ networks
AFTER: A crowdsourced business-review site

NETFLIX
BEFORE: A DVD-rental service
AFTER: A platform for streaming video and original programming

SHOPIFY
BEFORE: An online snowboard equipment store
AFTER: A multiservice platform for online retailers

NINTENDO
BEFORE: A maker of playing cards
AFTER: A video-game and consumer-electronics business

SLACK
BEFORE: A multiplayer video game
AFTER: A workplace-communication tool

ECOLAB
BEFORE: A carpet-cleaning product for hotel rooms
AFTER: Water purification and energy services

INSTAGRAM
BEFORE: A location check-in site where users shared photos of themselves with friends
AFTER: A photo- and video-sharing social network

YOUTUBE
BEFORE: A video-dating service
AFTER: An online video-sharing platform

From the Winter 2021/2022 issue of Inc. Magazine

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