After some time, many startups may have to face the fact that things are not shaping up in a way they thought or dreamt it would go. This should not be surprising since more than 90% of startups fail (Source: Forbes). So the question is, at what point should you change your course, aka “pivot”, and evolve your business in a different direction?
Make Change the Constant
One key attribute of successful companies is that they do not fear change. They are quick to evolve their business if they identify the need and do not hesitate or think twice about it. It does not matter if you are changing your product to fit the market better, or finding a different market that will have more use of the product. Whatever the case, as long as it improves your business, you should always be looking for anything that can be upgraded.
It can be disheartening to realize that all the effort you put into growing the business has been misplaced, since what you are doing is not or no longer what the public need or want. Look on the bright side, you have just realized that something is not right, and by identifying this, you can fix it and move forward.
Listen to Your Customers
Continuous negative feedback from your customers is one sure way you will know something needs to change in your business. Not only with existing customers, but with potential ones as well. For example, if people are telling you that there is this one thing that keeps them away from buying your product, that is probably something that needs to be changed or added as soon as possible. Keep in mind, however, you do not want to be overly eager to change. Take about six to eight months to thoroughly analyze and evaluate the feedback. Once you are 100% sure that what you are doing isn’t working out, then you should look into pivoting.
Never Throw Away Your Building Blocks
While pivoting does in essence mean that you are letting go of your previous business plan, it does not mean you have to completely scrap everything you previously created. For example, tech companies can reuse their code from previous products and adapt it to the newly improved business plan. Always keep a backup of what you have, so you can reuse its components or simply refer to past lessons learned.
Always Follow the Money
Changing your entire business plan can be a hard thing to do. If a new customer says, “I love what you guys do, but I wish you can do this and that,” you need to consider what’s behind this potential new door of opportunity. If the numbers look right, and the pivot seems doable, then you should always follow the money. Moreover, if it is something you have heard from past lost opportunities, then you may be in luck. On the flip side, in no way should you ever change your entire business just to fix some minor issues or feature upgrades.
The End Justifies the Means
Take heart in the fact that there hasn’t been a startup who hasn’t run into some problems during their growth. This is why it is essential that you are certain you know what you want in your life. Knowing what you are working towards will help you realize whether your current startup is on the road to your dreams. If you feel your startup is not on the right road, or even on the same planet, perhaps it is time to pivot, to ensure you get on the path to success. Looking back, the end will justify the means and the paths/pivots you took to get there.
Handle Feedback Carefully
The best advice to heed as a new company is to always listen to your customers. I cannot stress this enough; the feedback you receive can make or break your company depending on how you choose to respond to it. Take pricing for example, if many of your customers are not satisfied with your product or service’s price, your price may be too high. With this feedback, you can consider changing your price or not. Whatever the case, you should consider all feedback seriously, evaluate your options and react accordingly.
If there is one thing to take away from this article, it would be to listen to your customers. Whether you are looking to pivot or upgrade your product, knowing what your customers are saying will help you steer the ship in the right direction.
Photo Copyright: Peter Bernik