It’s not a business until you have customers

Thomas Edison once said anything that won’t sell, he doesn’t want to invent because a sale is proof of utility and utility is success. Similarly, unless you have a good base of customers that are raving about your product or service and are willing to buy and use it; you do not have a business.

 

While it is important for entrepreneurs to possess some level of mental toughness that enables them to succeed regardless of the obstacles; it is just as important to know when to exit or pivot. Staying too long with a losing venture is a common problem with most entrepreneurs despite clear signs that it is time to change.

Hence, learning to quickly adapt through a well thought-out pivot is essential. Whether this means changing your business model, pricing strategies, outsourcing or leveraging innovation or moving from one customer segment to another until you find what works.

Here are some points to consider before pivoting:

  • Define what success looks like – how will you know you’ve arrived
  • Assess the acceptable risk to make the change, your capacity to make the change and measure the consequences against the potential rewards
  • Develop a plan
  • Timing is everything – have an intuitive sense for when it is time to pivot
  • Test the new model/product before investing heavily on it. Tweak the concept and test repeatedly making incremental improvements. Show your customers a prototype of your product or showcase your service to find out if they’ll use it before spending too much money on it.
  • Get the right team on board – your business is as good as your people.
  • Learn – leverage on insights you gained along the way, including failure. Take time to understand what is important to your target market and what is not appealing about your current offering.

The key to business success is the ability to confront the fact that it’s time to re-evaluate. So, learn to deal with reality head-on rather than deny the inevitable; Fail fast and cost effectively. The ability to pivot can save your business and create growth opportunities in a related yet different direction.

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