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How can I pivot my business?
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel you’re wading your way through treacle, stumbling along like one of the Walking Dead, and unable to connect with your surroundings?
Often, you change your plans – if you don’t feel up to going to the gym after work, you’ll go home and order takeaway instead.
If you don’t feel like going to the cinema with your friends, you have an early night, instead. You have caffeinated coffee instead of decaf, just to get yourself going again….
But what if instead of you being the one in a zombified state, it was your start up business? No strength of coffee is going to save that.
So what will?
If your business is staggering - or worse – stagnant, there may still be a way for you to get things back on track. Slow (or zero) growth doesn’t necessarily mean that you or your business has failed, nor does it mean that you should give up.
In fact sometimes, giving up isn’t an option. Instead, it means that you need to shift perspective, adjust your goals, and pivot.
This could be anything from tweaking your business plan to re-evaluating your entire model.
Lean Start up Methodology
In Lean Start up Methodology, the practise of pivoting is referred to as the “iterative process”, which is done via the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop.
Lean Start up encourages you to build your minimum viable product (MVP), testing it on your target audience, iterating, and growing. To learn more about this method, read this
Examples of ways you can pivot
Eric Ries, founder of Lean Start up Methodology has 10 suggestions on pivots you can make when you need to head in a different direction with your start up:
What you dismissed as a tiny part of your original business plan could actually be the answer to your problems. Take a look at the smaller picture and focus in on the details.
This is where what you thought was your whole product or service becomes part of an even bigger picture. What you once saw as the oak tree, becomes an acorn on a stronger and mightier tree.
Customer segment pivot.
Are you targeting the right audience? Your product or service may solve a genuine problem in the marketplace, but is it their problem? If not, find the right customers and you may find growth, too.
Customer need pivot.
Does your product or service provide a solution to a problem that people have? If feedback from your customers suggests that it doesn’t, then it’s time to find a problem that’s actually worth solving.
Although it’s good to look at the bigger picture and prepare for the future of your business, make sure you don’t forget to focus too. If you’ve created a platform for future products, ask yourself if you’ve also created a single application. If not, what will your customer buy? You may either need to switch from platform to application, or application to platform.
Business architecture pivot.
You can’t operate both of the two major business architectures at once. Focus on being either high margin/low volume or low margin/high volume. If the one you choose doesn’t work, your product, service, and overall business may be better suited to the other.
Value capture pivot.
Sooner or later (and it’s usually sooner rather than later), your start up needs to start making money. If your current method of monetisation isn’t doing that for you, then you’ll need to find a revenue model that does.
Engine of growth pivot.
There are three main engines of growth that are used by startups: paid, viral, and sticky. The speed at which your business grows and its profitability can be greatly affected by the growth model you choose.
Are you using the most effective channel to deliver your product/service to your customers? The distribution or sales channel you use may sometimes need tweaking, in terms of positioning, pricing, and feature, in order to work more effectively.
As technology moves along at lightning speed, how can you be sure that you’re using the most appropriate technology for your start up? If a new technology suits your business model better, enabling you to provide the same solution in a more streamlined and/or cost-effective way, it may be time to pivot.
So there you go – 10 things to try before you admit defeat and surrender to the depths of Zombification. By pivoting, you may end up with a vastly different business to the one you originally envisioned, but you may also end with a successful start up with high-growth potential. (And when you’re exiting in 7 years, you won’t even be able to remember what the initial idea was…)