Pivot, Perish Or Persevere?
When your business is going through a difficult phase, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.
This is particularly true for start-ups, where it is often a chaotic and fast paced time, where you make it up as you go. During these dynamic stages, a business must be adaptable and willing to change quickly to survive.
This may involve adopting a ‘pivot, persevere or perish’ approach.
Be prepared to make the call on which is the most appropriate approach when you hit a hurdle or when progress starts to stagnate. Sometimes pivoting may not be helpful – rather, gritting your teeth and persevering, or scrapping it altogether (perish) could be better. Let’s look at each in a little more detail.
When considering a pivot, you need to be highly objective and ask yourself what changes you need to make to move forward. This requires a change in course as you plan to test a new hypothesis about your product or service. It’s not a tiny, incremental change either – it’s a complete shift. Below are five ways to pivot, or to evaluate a pivot:
- Zoom In – when a single feature becomes the whole product (narrow your focus)
- Zoom Out – when the whole product becomes a single feature (expand your focus/bolt-on a service or product)
- Customer Segment – repositioning or developing a completely new product for a customer segment that has emerged.
- Customer Need – good product, wrong customer segment
- Platform – change an application to a platform or vice versa
Other considerations might be to do with the technology or channels you are using to deliver your product or service. Maybe you’ve realised that you’re catering your product or business to the wrong audience, or you’re not entirely solving their problem.
A crucial part of the pivoting process is also about recognising what elements of your business are and aren’t working. Accordingly, I would recommend starting with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of your products and services. It is important to be objective during this process.
The approach that prioritises Persevering means continuing with the original plan or intention. It assumes that most of the product or service is sound, and it is just a matter of breaking through to your market or staying the course until you reach your goal. Is more marketing, testimonials, product/service proof required to get that break through? Is there a new or different assumption you need to test first to ensure your original plan is still sound? Are there more channels/segments you can expand to? Do you need to reframe your business goal/objective?
If something isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it – however, make sure you remain open to changes and adaptations and listen to your audience as much as possible. It is important that “ego” is not the driving force of the decision making here, rather objective review.
In the perish approach, it is decided what will be abandoned from the product or service. This is when you eliminate something that is no longer serving your needs or working as you had intended it to.
It could be that you’ve discovered there is not the product market fit that you thought there was or that it’s just not a good fit anymore with your changing business goals. Perhaps another competitor has emerged doing the same thing but creating more value quicker.
When you decide to perish, you decide to cut your losses and move on to the next thing. You gave it a go and tried it, but it didn’t work – so you move on quickly!
It’s a good idea to regularly check in with your team and ask these three fundamental questions – Should you pivot, persevere or perish? An easier way to start this conversation with your team is to use the Start, Stop, More Approach….. What should I start, what should I stop, what should I do more of? Importantly, try to get everyone’s input (especially any feedback or data from your customers), weigh the pros and cons, and consider the implications and consequences of each scenario.
Always make informed, balanced and well-considered decisions. Don’t be a moth drawn to a new shiny light… rather slow down and evaluate the decision as objectively as possible. Is it a good strategic move?
This is where your Business Advisors can play an important role. They can help you be objective and act as a “sounding board” to test your assumptions and evidence. Your business advisor could give you a much-needed tactical boost. Start that conversation today.