To Pivot or Not To Pivot: The Buzzword in 2017

Today we discuss the biggest dilemma that an entrepreneur may face: Is this the time to Pivot? And if so, how?

In my honest opinion, this is a humbling experience to confess that they went wrong. And the long sleepless nights, the life’s savings and may be even the investor’s money, all went down the drain; only because the entrepreneur didn’t envision the product right. Some may be sucked into the dark tunnel of despair (or maybe even oblivion), because of their sheer misplaced determination that they might be able to see that light at the end of the tunnel and make everything right again.

Whatever the reason may be, the case in point here is: we should be cognizant and be prepared for a pivot in the business model, when every sign on the way to your “probable” destination is leading you towards a cul-de-sac. I know you might be in a quandary as to; “How do we know when to Pivot?” Let me let you in on a secret: There is no algorithm or some magic formula for you to use, but it is important to keep an open mind and watch out for the ‘signs’ as you advance with grit towards your business objective.  I have jotted down a couple of such ‘signs’ for your benefit. The list is only indicative and not an exhaustive one.

  • When you get the feeling of not doing enough every day you get to work. Even after you have ticked all the right boxes, there is not a single sign of improvement.
  • You feel like being the captain of a ship that is about to capsize and even after a full mast, the situation doesn’t change.
  • You and your team have lost the rhythm and motivation is gasping for breath.
  • Your product doesn’t seem to be too sticky to retain the customers. The traction is not building up and you are left with an incessant “Why” in your head.
  • You are continually educating your customer about the USPs of your product. If you’re repetitively educating your target in the hope of creating a market, then you are in all probability, too early. This situation warrants a pivot.
  • Your competitor is doing better than you and is getting all the media coverage. You feel like a redundant copy.
  • You are not getting any investors or the existing ones are fleeing the battleground because they think your business is a lost cause. Same thing about the vendors.
  • Most startups that try to be everything to everyone fail because they are burning their engineering resources on developing products that are bigger than they should be. Going after everyone or almost everyone might confuse your users. Do they want me? Do they like me? Is this product for me?

The trick here is to know: Business is like Poker; you should know when to fold.

Assuming that you have figured out that you need to pivot due to any reason, please bear in mind some of the things that will assist you in pivoting with confidence.

  • First of all, get back to the drawing board and jot down all the possible reasons why your business idea took a nose dive. Always remember: where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
  • Reexamine the plans and goals you first had when you first started. What was your business objective and growth plan? Who was your target audience? Revise those goals and visions as necessary.
  • After you have had the epiphany of vis-à-vis the business plan clarity, work towards developing the product.
  • Develop a robust product with a strong value proposition. No amount of publicity or sales and marketing can get a lousy product off of the shelves.
  • Build Quickly, Minimally and get an MVP out soon to get back in the rhythm and boost your team’s morale. You wouldn’t want to lose that in the early stage or for that matter any stage of business.
  • Out a beta for the customers first to get their feedback. This will produce a well-developed product as the end result. When considering the rollout of a new offering, take a reverse engineering approach from the perspective of your customer. Remember, they are the ones making your business run, so your product better resonates with their preferences.
  • Keep making a new iteration of the product before you come out with a robust MVP.
  • Once you have a sticky product, success will follow, even if it comes at a slow pace.
  • So “Research, Build, Pivot, Repeat” is the mantra.
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