Startups And Pivoting
Startups And Pivoting
For all those that are running a business and are in their early days ( < 5 years old), chances are that you already have or are currently grappling with the fact that you might need to pivot some aspects of your business.
Let me clarify. Your Business is probably going really well. That’s amazing! There are also moments when you even look back at your journey and feel good about what you’ve been able to achieve and how far you have come. Cherish and enjoy this feeling, because you are probably not giving yourself enough credit!
However, do you still feel that you can do better or probably be better? Do you end up reading the Economic Times and Funding Reports to look at how innovative businesses in your sector are sweeping up tons of investor cash to achieve their visions for their companies, while you may be still taking two steps forward and one step back?
If the answers to the above questions are a resounding ‘YES’, you may need to pivot your business.
Start with the following as an exercise:
– Shortlist a maximum of 2 to 3 of the biggest challenges that you face in your business. For eg. It could be high levels of competition, high cost of customer acquisition or even the lack of a strong team.
– Think about whether there is a direction to where you feel your sector is headed.
– Reassess the Pain Points of your Customers.
– Reassess how you could potentially solve those pain points for them in a better way.
– Have a sense of what your competition is up to, how are they wooing your potential customers and how you could do that better.
Alright! So now that you have some answers (its preferable to write them down), Let’s get specific into how you could use the Power of the Pivot.
Perhaps, your business model needs to change. Honestly, the best way to realize whether you need to do this is if you can see the following happen:
1) Your sales are not what they should be and your competitors are capturing market share at a much higher rate than you are.
2) When you think of the biggest problems in your business, they are always operational or business models related in nature.
For example: As we were growing our business at Savage & Palmer, one of the biggest challenges we faced was always being “Person Dependent”. In the past, we would send our staff to visit our customers to do their accounts. But the challenge was that unfortunately, all people are not built the same way. In some cases, our customers loved us simply because of the person deployed on the ground and in some cases, they hated us as a company because the person on the ground was not a good fit with what they were looking for.
We realized that we needed to switch things up operationally and through centralizing our service, we were able to increase our quality of work and not be dependent on the person on the ground.
Some problems can simply be solved by money. Let’s just face it! Having the freedom to fail is sometimes all that a business requires in order to succeed. But all of this is possible only when you have cash in the bank.
A majority of businesses are self-funded or work out of overdrafts, which, is a great way to build a business. However, at no point should you ignore the potential benefits of bringing in outside capital and the numerous networks that come with it.
This will essentially enable you to try more things, whether it is to improve your product or your service, to create more distribution to build your brand, etc. If you find yourself in a position where you feel that you would be able to leapfrog time by using money, chances are that you should explore taking it. If you are someone who wants to delve more into this, I would definitely recommend reading the book ‘Blitzscaling’ by Reid Hoffman.
When we think of technology, we immediately think of some sort of revolutionary mobile app, a self-driving car or even some sort of artificial intelligence. But in order to maximize output while using technology, let’s think of technology in two buckets.
Bucket 1: Things that make delivering your product or service in a better or more efficient way. This allows you to be more competitive in your pricing and can also help you increase your margins.
For example: UBER as a company is working tirelessly to replace their biggest cost, which are drivers!
Bucket 2: Things that change the customer experience and bring it to a whole other level.
For example, Flipkart and Amazon literally changed the experience of shopping and revolutionised the way customers conducted a particular activity by making it more efficient and cost-effective.
Remember that It is always going to be slightly easier to innovate with everything that falls into Bucket 1. Although, entrepreneurs tend to ignore this, as it usually results in only bottom-line improvements.
In general, it is always important to work towards developing a tech stack to help differentiate and make your business more efficient.
Hiring is one of the most critical decisions that a business owner makes in their company. Although, a bigger mistake than not hiring right is not firing right.
We tend to approach this with a bit of trepidation and I have personally seen entrepreneurs beat around the bush and offer more chances than they probably should to their staff members. In a strange way, it is hard to fire someone that you yourself hired, as that is basically you admitting that you made a mistake and that can be hard.
However, if used effectively, firing your staff is a great way for you to ensure that your team is at the quality & at the cultural standards you would want them to be.
And guess what! We did it too! We grew from a 20 person team to a team of 150 people in just 12 months. Surely we have made a ton of mistakes along the way, but we were still able to use the power of pivot to move the Savage & Palmer ship in a direction that we believed would help our customers, our staff and us as the captain of the ship.
I hope that you found this blog insightful and illuminating. If you have some questions about how you feel you would like to pivot your business or would want to know more about how we did it at Savage & Palmer, please feel free to drop me a mail on email@example.com
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