When a man has an idea, it has to be a billion-dollar idea. The idea is good (if not the best). The way in which he wants to achieve something is exactly the one that will give him the desired effect. The chosen business model has to bring the first billion dollars (a million is just a million: a billion – now that sounds hot!). A pivot is not something a good entrepreneur needs. Is that right?

Such thinking is strange.

Let’s talk about a typical startup founder

There are thousands of companies being set up every day. Business models (or ways of reaching success) are at least as many as startup founders. Yet not every idea is good enough. Not every company will conquer the market, and not every service will find applause.

But a typical startup founder knows their own. They have an idea, and they execute it. They have ten ideas (daily), so in that case, they will implement all of them. Because what if one of them doesn’t work out (and btw. they won’t work out, not because the idea was bad or that the implementation wasn’t right, but because the users are stupid or still unprepared for such a revolution).

Of course, I’m generalizing. But still… that’s often the case.

Let’s talk about startup investors

What do investors want? Earn money. And how do they earn money? Thanks to their portfolio startups and their growing valuations. Do they care about how a specific startup reached success? What did they do to achieve their goals? Ok, sometimes they do. However, most often they do not. They just want to get their money back and earn 10x, 100x, or even more of invested capital.

Do they care if the first idea was right or not? Not really. Do they care if a startup founder changed his/her mind and started to execute some other idea? They do not. They just want to have their return.

So why do startup founders so stuck to their first ideas?

Is this an ego of a founder? I think that in most cases it’s because they are afraid. They are afraid of being criticized. They are afraid of being called a failure. Of not achieving what they promised in the first place.

And that’s the problem. Because such thinking stops us from reaching success with our business.

Of course, defeat is a defeat. But also, it’s a lesson for the future. A lesson that teaches us best. A lesson that gives us the biggest kick, that we remember best. A lesson that we can learn from. And if it’s still not too late, it’s a lesson worth implementing in our current business. How? By trying something else.

What is a pivot?

This is a definition I like the most (found here):

A startup pivot, or business pivot, occurs when a company shifts its business strategy to accommodate changes in its industry, customer preferences, or any other factor that impacts its bottom line. It’s essentially the process of a startup translating direct or indirect feedback into a change in its business model.

Or in simple words: it’s just a change. A change in what we do, in what we focus on.

Any famous pivots?

Let me think… maybe:

  • Twitter
  • PayPal
  • Groupon
  • Airbnb
  • Nintendo
  • Starbucks
  • Flickr
  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • YouTube

… just to name a few.

It’s often like this: business co-founders realize users/customers are using their site/product/service differently than they’d intended, so they pivot.

Rarely, the first idea is a good one. Often, the very first concept never takes off.

However, to know how to do a pivot, you need to listen and watch

I know startup founders who raised money from investors for their web-based products. Within three years they implemented it. Three times they rewrote the code from scratch. Why? Because it could’ve been more well written. Because it worked too slowly and people wouldn’t want to use the product because of that. Because the product could be nicer. They haven’t even thought about the fact, that the assumptions may have been wrong. That there might be something wrong with their approach. That it might have been better to launch something smaller, but working well and taking feedback, which would allow them to develop in an appropriate direction.

I know people who – as bosses – don’t allow their business partners or employees to implement any of their ideas (even the simplest ones). They don’t even let them try. They don’t let them check. Because there is no time for experimentation. They need to work on developing the boss’s vision. Tick tock, tick tock. The clock is ticking. Competitors are catching up. They didn’t even think that thanks to trying different ways, they can find themselves on the right one.

And that’s the worst thing. Because to do a good pivot, you need to implement ideas, and then watch, and listen to your users. You need to watch how they behave to learn what to focus on, what to change and how.

There is nothing wrong with a pivot!

There is nothing wrong with change. There is nothing wrong with a mistake, with experimentation, with looking for other ways of development. Or with testing other solutions.

It’s not worth being afraid of change. It’s not worth avoiding pivots. It’s worth asking, trying, and experimenting.

In the end, the changes are good. They allow us to keep up on the surface.

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