So you’ve established your start-up with big dreams and goals, you are following the rules and you have a set game plan. All this is great stuff but a few months down the line, you realize that things are not all that gung-ho.
Your game plan that looked solid on paper turns out to be a little wobbly in reality. So ask yourself – do you preserve and try to work things out or do you need to pivot? I can tell you that as a start-up, as daunting as it may seem, you would need to seriously consider pivoting – a phenomenon by which you change parts of your game plan or even the underlying business strategy.
Pivoting can be as simple and stress-free as revising the product price or a certain part of your marketing campaign or as drastic as changing your target audience or your company’s basic offering! Not surprisingly, many people are under the impression that pivoting only happens during unfavorable circumstances, but many firms pivot when they see advantageous opportunities too. At times, entrepreneurs though inclined towards pivoting, are unaware of the right time to pivot.
Here are some factors that could be quite telling when it comes to pivoting:
Your product/service doesn’t generate interest:
Be quick in assessing if your product or service is actually connecting with your target audience or generating good interest. If you find out that there is a disconnect, then your business surely needs to pivot asap! Try altering your basic offering, tweaking your marketing or even taking a relook at your target audience/market.
Revenues stop making sense:
If the revenue generated by your start-up is downright dismal, then it may be time to pivot. True, it may take time to break even for a start-up, but if you see yourself underperforming even against extremely conservative forecasts, it is better to identify the problem areas and pivot accordingly.
Employees and customers’ feedback:
Regular interactions with customers can be one of the most reliable methods to know the areas of improvement, especially when your business is still in its nascent stages. This apart, customers offer feedback and opinions that could be constructively implemented during pivoting.
Employees on the other hand, notice flaws that an entrepreneur may not notice. Creating an atmosphere where employee suggestions are taken could help in innovative pivoting.
Sometimes pivoting can be induced by your competitors’ actions and this is especially true for a start-up that is vying for the same market share as your competitor. Constantly monitor your competition and see when an opportunity or a serious threat to your business arise.
When survival is at stake:
If you feel the very survival or the future of your company is at stake, then pivot right away. From time to time, ask yourself this question – “is my start-up future proof?” If the answer is in the negative, take a cue and change tack. Keeping your ear to the ground, following trends and regularly reinventing yourself is the best way to make your small business future proof.
My advice to most start-ups that feel the need to pivot is to quickly but diligently identify and separate the symptoms from the actual cause. The more agile you are, the better your survival rate when it comes to pivoting. Also, don’t expect miracles to happen immediately after pivoting – it’s a gradual process, where even the results will be seen gradually.