You know I love a good history lesson or two. That’s why I’m sharing with you about some real business brands that make pivoted and turned into the successful company they are today!

If you’re a teacher seller who has not made as much money as in previous years, not seeing the growth and success you were hoping for, you may need to pivot or make a change. Pivoting can be the key to success!

Episode Highlights

  • Nokia
  • Playdoh
  • Starbucks
  • Netflix
  • Nintendo
  • Instagram
  • Wrigley



Kirsten 0:04

You're listening to the creative teacher podcast, a show for busy teachers looking for ways to engage, inspire and make an impact in their teacher businesses. I'm Kiersten, a teacher business owner who is all about simple and actionable tips, strategies and resources that result in wins, big or small. If you're looking for that extra spark of creativity, you've come to the right place. Let's dive in together.

Hi there, and welcome to this episode of the creative teacher podcast. It's very, very prevalent of having a TPT store that you think is doing really well. And you're rockin it. And then maybe after 2021, or when the personalized search was happening, your store and your earnings take a huge nosedive. It's like just going straight down. There's no stopping, you're not able to make the same amount as you once did. And it can be so frustrating. And really, just really kind of irritating and sad. There's a lot of different emotions, people feel there's no wrong emotion to feel about having these really big years and then having the opposite effect. One thing that can kind of offset and bring you back to potentially even better success is to pivot. Sometimes pivoting will make or break a store on TPT. And this has been proven to be true with even bigger brands out there. Today, I wanted to actually share with you some examples of really big name brands that millions of people know about, that started out at something completely different than what we might know them as now because they chose to make a pivot, and they found success. So I wanted to kind of bring this episode in the mix to bring you some encouragement and inspiration that if these businesses could do it, we can do it as well. I'm going to share with you seven different businesses or brands, and how they started out, we're gonna hear about their origin story and what they did to pivot and how that resulted in success.

First up is Nokia, we might have heard this sound, I'm going to try to do the best I can router to router to router. If that sounds familiar, that is related to Nokia. But it started out as a wood pulp mill in the late 1800s. It was a paper company. And this was out of Finland. So this was kind of where it started. They were basically close to bankruptcy after World War One. And they eventually also started making different things like rubber and glosses and hoses, just different rubber materials. And then they also started exporting telephone and electricity cables to places such as the Soviet Union. And this is kind of when it shifted into an electronics business. So it went from paper mill to rubber to electronics. In 1982. Nokia had its first car phone, and then the first handheld mobile came in 1987 As the years between the 80s and 90s and early 2000. All of the other things that they were doing such as paper, tires, computers, military equipment, those were all phased out, and they decided to focus on telecommunications. So they in 1999, released what was the Nokia 3210 and also the 3310, which became one of the most popular electronics of all time. And this may have been your first phone. I remember my mom having this phone she had a blue Nokia phone and I remember very vividly, I was like wow, this is so cool. So this was something that At basically, it sold so well they sold well over 100 million units. And in 2003, same amount they sold like tons and tons of units. Eventually, though, that was kind of in their glory days. So eventually they did. You know, after the rise of the Apple iPhone and the smartphone, they did end up selling their devices and services to Microsoft. But just thinking about their heyday, and how they kind of they were selling a bunch of different things just random, I feel like random things. And they got really, really cute. They're like, Okay, we're going to focus more on this. So they niched down a little bit more. And in their biggest heyday, they sold millions of phones. So that is something we can think about is sometimes when we pivot, we kind of have to hyper focus in on one thing.

Next, we're going to talk about Plato. So believe it or not, Plato started out as a wallpaper cleaner. And what they were doing was combining flour, water, salt, boric acid and silicone oil. And they were using it to basically lift the suit off of wallpaper that could not get wet. So that was kind of something they were selling the people who were owning this company, and it was called something else. I'm not quite sure the name of like what it was called before it was playdough as we know it today. But eventually, in the 50s. They were realizing that like nobody was buying these wallpaper cleaners, nobody was using them. So in the mid 50s, they gave this gunk, what they you know, this like, you can hold it just like that playdough texture. They gave that to preschools and kindergartens, throughout their hometown of Cincinnati. And actually, the kids and teachers loved it, they got really great reviews on it. So what they did the following year is add some dye, some color, some almond scent, and they actually sold the paste as what we know it as called playdough in these buckets, so they were marketing it to schools. And they were selling really well on that. And so they also later added having individuals being able to buy these. So like in those small little containers, they invented the three pack of the blue, red and yellow clay. And that's when they started making a lot, a lot a lot of money. They also during that time, found ways to refine the formula, they were trying to find ways to keep it from drying out too quickly. And even losing its color when it did get dry. And they were able to make $1.50 per can on a product that used to sell for 34 cents. That's an amazing transformation right there. And while different companies have owned and acquired playdough. It is a very clearly successful Kids Toy today.

The third brand that we're going to talk about is our favorite star B's. Starbucks is a brand that was originally a coffee being shop and a coffee maker shop. There was more of like a supplier and the CEO Howard Schultz in 1983. He traveled to Italy, and he loved the coffee over there which I mean like who wouldn't, right? But after his trip, Starbucks actually started selling this European style coffee. And it was interesting because Schultz had a vision to be more like this kind of coffee house rather than just being some coffee supplier. So that's where they found success thinking about like, just that European style. You're going in, you're grabbing your coffee and you're sitting in a comfy chair or just sitting watching people Will, you know people watching whatever you want to do. But that concept came after that trip. That's kind of what changed the game. And they are now on every corner, and they are massively successful. So just think if he had never gone to Europe and just continued being a coffee supplier, they probably would not see the success that they do today.

All right, the fourth one we're going to talk about is one of the favorites, Netflix. So in the late 90s, Netflix started as a DVD rental by mail service. And this competed with the blockbusters in the Hollywood video, if you remember that. And because I remember this trips to the store was always so fun to be able to go into Hollywood Video, we would rent some VHS is and pop them into our VHS player. And it was great, you know, you could rent it, return it and all of that stuff. And there were movie snacks, there was some good times there. And so this was interesting, because Netflix is like, you don't have to go to a brick and mortar store, you can just get it in the mail, then there came a point in time, where a lot of consumers just didn't really use DVDs as much, or they just kind of had this premonition that we need to change something we need to adapt. So this mail, you know, old DVD by mail, this is not really going very great. It's not as stable as it could be. And it started gradually becoming less of a priority. And they kind of put more emphasis on streaming videos on the platform that we know of it today. So being able to download an application and on our phones or TVs or computers, and being able to just stream it on the go. So their ability to see the change in the market see the change in the trends. And rather than double down like no, we need these people getting these DVDs by mail, this is the way it's gonna go. We're not changing it, they decided to go with what the times were changing to. And this is just an example of how pivoting to streaming has led to their massive success. And I feel continues to be one of the streaming leaders people are following suit. Now we've got things like Hulu and Amazon Prime, video, and sling all these different streaming services and even networks that have their own version of streaming that we can also view so Disney plus is another one. So it's just something that they were able to set precedent. And because they were able to kind of see the shift and the trends.

We can't have an episode without mentioning a very popular brand, and character named Mario. So we're going to next talk about Nintendo, this brand made a pivot, believe it or not, they were once a what you would maybe think of as a jack of all trades. They were selling things like ramen noodles, and hotels, they were in the hotel industry and vacuum cleaner industry. And so they were dabbling, they weren't really sure what what was going to be happening in their business. But during the 80s, they ventured into the gaming business. And that is kind of what broke the camel's back and how they were able to see success today. But even before then, Nintendo was actually the largest card selling business in Japan. This is playing cards, so think games, but card games. This is something that they were very successful at. And then over the years they did the whole like hotels and taxis and ramen noodles. Then the 80s they pivoted into the games and the electronic toys industry. And that's kind of where we see the success of Donkey Kong and the Mario brothers and just their ability to launch different, really innovative and never before seen consoles like the Gameboy Nintendo Switch the we all have these really great video games that are of course loved by many family members of all ages. An interesting statistic is that in 2018, Nintendo earned nearly $10 billion in profit. So just that pivot into games and electronic toys, and then that whole take off of those popular characters really boomed with their business.

This next one is a little bit more recent, and it's probably something you're utilizing right now or have utilized in the last hour. And that is Instagram. Instagram, started out as a company called bourbon. And it allowed users to check in at their favorite spots. And this also let them share different photos. And I am going to be blanking on this. But I remember a location sharing app that was really popular in the early 2010s, I'm gonna have to look and see what it is it was like a check in app very similar to Bourbon. And it is something that was a part time project for Kevin Systrom. And he was just trying to learn how to code. So this was not anything he was trying to be doing, like full time, like trying to sell the company or anything like that there was like a project for him. And he, in time learned and saw that more people were sharing the photos, he realized, and it became a lot more clear that people were sharing the photos system, he decided that he could actually do something with this, there was great potential with this. And so he streamlined the app, he deleted all the different games and other features in there. And he just kept the photo option and called it Instagram. And Facebook two years afterwards, purchased Instagram for $1 billion dollars. So his thinking, his quick thinking and his business savviness even though it was not something he was really thinking about, he saw the really great potential in it. And it became what we know it as today. And of course, more features added like reels it's you know, I remember the days before reels is there, it seems like forever ago, but it is really great to see all these new, different features. They're like stories and the lives and all the different ability to schedule reels and schedule posts in the app natively. It's all something just based off of this part time project. So if he hadn't have done this, this wouldn't have been in our hands and be one of the most widely used apps today.

Lastly, we're going to talk about something you might have eaten in your childhood or even maybe in your adulthood. And that is Wrigley's gum. Before it was what we know it as today. Wrigley's actually started off as a soap business, so nothing even related to something you would want to eat. William Wrigley Jr. He was in Chicago in the late 1800s. And he was a soap and baking powder sales man. That was his business like Wrigley's, like, he sold soap to people. And he came up with this idea of offering free chewing gum with his purchases. And ironically, the chewing gum became more popular than his actual product. They were like, Oh, this is actually really great gum. So when he saw that people were really interested in this gum, and that he could actually sell it and capitalize off of it. He went ahead and leaned into that. And so now we have the wonderful chewing gum like Doublemint, gum and juices, gum and all the different Wrigley's flavors that we know and love. That all started because he had the idea to put the GM in with what he was selling, which was the soap. So sometimes your pivot can be something you were thinking was going to happen. But then the pivot is completely going off of what you you wouldn't have expected it and you're just going with something that you might think, you know, this could be something that could work or it may not work. It could be a total flop. I don't know. But I'm going to just kind of pivot into this direction and see what happens. And now Wrigley's is one of the most successful chewing gum companies.

All right, so hopefully you learned a little bit of history lessons in this and also some business lessons of how we might as sellers need to pay Have it and do things differently. If something in our business isn't working, whether that's in our marketing or the type of products we're selling, it's just not making the earnings that we're used to or it's just not selling at all. And we haven't seen any growth in our business in a while. Sometimes making pivots can make all the difference. Alright, so hopefully you enjoyed this episode. I'll be talking again with you next week. Thanks for listening to the creative teacher podcast. If you enjoyed listening to today's episode, feel free to subscribe and leave a review. I'd love to hear your feedback. You can also follow me on Instagram at the southern teach dot designs. Have an amazing day