Starting a business is hard. Starting a business and knowing that something’s not working is even harder. But what do you do in that situation?
So many people stubbornly dig in their heels and try to convince the world that it’s them that’s wrong and the business idea is right. And that may be true.
You may have the best idea in the world but if it’s not gelling with what people want, then what is it worth? Nothing. What you need to do in this situation is pivot.
In my book, Go Live!: 10 principles to launch a global empire, I dedicate a whole chapter to the principle of pivoting, and why it’s so important to zig when everyone else is zagging.
Pivoting your business doesn’t always mean making massive changes. A pivot can mean small, incremental, meaningful changes. But knowing when to do it is key.
Here are three signs that it’s time to pivot your business or project:
1. There’s too much competition
If the space you’re competing in has reached a point of market saturation, it’s time to pivot. This could be as simple as looking around at your competitors and working out what makes them all the same in order to work out what you can do to separate yourself from the pack.
Sometimes it’ll require more fortitude and shifting the entire focus of your business.
For example, take the one thing that you know you do better than anyone else in your industry and sell that to your competitors as your product. Make your competition your new customers.
2. Customers aren’t responding
One of the most crushing moments for any entrepreneur is when you go to market with a product and the world greets you with a resounding, “meh”.
Does this mean your product is awful and you should pack up and go home? Maybe. But first, take a look at how your product is being marketed to your customers.
One issue could be that the messaging around your product isn’t hitting the mark. Whether this is the tone or wording or something else completely, you should check your marketing materials and see if you need to shift your angle before giving up on the idea completely.
3. Your perspective of the industry has changed
Getting your product to market can take a lot of time and one situation you might run into is launching a product or service into a market that’s changed and your product is no longer necessary. This is especially common in emerging industries as they’re at the beginning of the innovation curve.
If this sounds familiar, then you need to think of your product as a means of education, pivoting into the role of sherpa: guiding your customers and teaching them the value your product provides to them and why they need it.
This isn’t the only pivot you can make in this particular situation.
As newer industries are evolving, you might see something on the horizon and just have a gut feeling about the future of your industry. It might not align with the direction your company is currently heading but it could be a great opportunity to test out your hunch.
If you’re facing some of these signs, it might be time to rip up that handbrake and change your course. Be brave and trust your gut. You know your business better than anyone in the world.
Calculate the risks and think about the worst possible scenarios. And remember, the more mistakes you make, the less fear you will have to keep trying new ideas.