Pivoting: The Fine Line Between Persistence and Stupidity

September 14, 2016

9:00 pm

The best coaches always have a pregame strategy. They watch film, scout, and devise the plan they think has the best chance of beating their competitors. The same logic applies to running a business. You have ideas, strategies, and a plan of attack. Unfortunately, the market often has other plans. And as an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to either listen and adapt, or ignore and stay the course.

Every company needs a passionate vision, but recognizing when to adapt to the market landscape is equally crucial.  Should you ever find yourself in a position that requires pivoting, remember these three things:

The Market Is Always Right

When signs present themselves, you need to keep an open mind and remember that you aren’t the defining factor in the success of your startup; the market is.

The key is being brave enough to self-assess. If you don’t have the gumption to seriously look at your startup and evaluated whether or not you are doing thing right, you might as well throw in the towel now. Without an objective eye, you aren’t going to be able to know if pivoting is the right move or not.

Investors Fund You, Not Your Idea

Successful investors don’t just back products they like. They’re sold on your presentation, your passion, and your ability to woo them. They understand that markets shift, and pivoting won’t turn them off from their investment.

It’s hard not to be worried about what your investors will think. But being afraid of them isn’t going to make your startup anymore successful. Pivoting is a natural part of the business world, and if your investors know what they’re doing, they’ll understand.

You’ll Know When It’s Right

Much like being in love, product-market fit is something you just feel in your bones. If it’s only “kind of working,” you need to change something until it’s working so well you can’t keep up with customer demand. Once that happens, lean into it as hard as possible.

At the same time, don’t overcomplicate things by trying to do too much. Stay focused, and make it painfully simple for consumers to understand what you do, why you’re there, and why they should care.

The definition of pivoting is keeping one foot planted on the ground while the other secures footing for the next step. Shifting your entrepreneurial game plan by listening to the market closely is never a bad thing. Trusting your instincts and understanding that product-market fit is the gold mine for budding startups. Anything less is selling yourself short.

Photo: Flickr / clappstar

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Brent Freeman is the co-founder and president of Stealth Venture Labs, and early stage venture lab based in Los Angeles and San Francisco that focuses on incubating and accelerating scalable ecommerce businesses using operational expertise, data science, digital marketing systems and compelling business models. Brent is also an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Crosscut Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Los Angeles, where he advises on customer acquisition, digital marketing and consumer internet investments.

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