How to Know When to Give Up, When to Pivot and When to Persist
You built your business on a dream, and then your dream crashed into reality. Obstacles. Haters. Bills. Customers who don’t want what you thought they wanted in the quantity you hoped.
Calling it quits isn’t your only option -- it’s not necessarily your best one either. Rather, it may be time to pivot your business or persist in the face of opposition.
How can you tell when to pivot, persist, or pull the plug? If you’re facing this question right now, keep reading for answers that come from a guy who’s been there multiple times ... and keeps going there to make sure his business is constantly growing stronger.
Pivot into greater success
Every business you start will pivot at some point or another. It happens when you get feedback from those you’re serving and you change to better meet their needs.
If you stake the identity of your company on a product, process or advantage, then your business has a built-in expiration date. Eventually, like all things, that thing you love is going to be outdated and forgotten.
Pivot properly, on the other hand, and your business will stand the test of time.
One of the greatest chewing gum companies in the world exists only because of a well-timed pivot. William Wrigley Jr. sold soap and baking soda, and he’d toss in a free pack of gum with each purchase. Soon, Wrigley realized his customers were more excited about his gum than the soap or baking soda. Instead of lamenting this fact, he founded Wrigley’s gum. Then he sent a free sample to every home listed in a United States phone book.
Wrigley did it because he knew people liked what he had to offer. He also knew they would be back for more. He was right.
But when is it time for a pivot in your company -- one that may even change the entire purpose of your company?
I consider pivoting essential for these reasons.
- You realize the need you’re trying to meet is being met by lots of other companies, and you’re being overlooked. In this situation, carve out an open niche inside your industry or find a new place to make a move.
- You offer a dozen services, and only three of them make you any money. Over time, markets change. If your money-maker becomes a money-taker, cut the fat and get back to building your empire.
- There’s no excitement inside your company or among your customer base. At the same time, your customers are asking for a different service or product you don’t offer, and your team hint that the customers are onto something. Take the hints and push your business in that direction at full throttle. Push hard enough and you’ll have Wrigley-sized success.
Persist and reap the dividends
What about persisting? Isn’t that necessary for an entrepreneur? Of course it is.
Persistence pays off when you’ve laid out a plan and things are moving along on schedule. Some people don’t understand that every business idea doesn’t result in massive money overnight.
I do. That’s why I worked days and nights as I grew my business into something that could support me full-time. I was a fry cook at Disneyland and a bouncer at a gay bar, all while pursuing my true passion as a personal trainer.
These days, I’m happy I don’t come home every night smelling like rotting ketchup, but I will always be grateful for that time in my life. It taught me the true meaning of hard work and tested me to see if I was truly committed to my passion for fitness. If you’re in a similar place right now, I promise you it’s a blessing, not a curse.
So persevere and keep your eyes on the prize. Your golden idea will work when you put in the work. When this happens, you’ll have customers who will gush about your services or products. And the doubters? They’ll see you were right and wish they had the idea and the gonads to do the same thing.
As you stay the course, remember that your main purpose as an entrepreneur is to make an obscene amount of wealth. And that massive wealth only comes when you deliver massive value to the world. Maintain both of these truths and you’ll be able to live the life you want, pay your people what they deserve, and make a real impact on those around you.
Pull the plug to salvage what’s left
Now for the most painful option: killing a project or company altogether. Despite the pain, it’s sometimes necessary to get rid of your company. Pull the plug when …
- You’ve put in your time, acted on research, watched where every dollar goes, pivoted to better position the business for success, and you’re still not making the profits you need. It can happen with any idea, so don’t keep throwing money at a sinking ship.
- You can’t keep team members around long-term. Either you’re a massive pain to work with, your product or service isn’t all that great, or you don’t pay enough because you don’t make enough. Regardless of the cause, if you’re bleeding talent, it may be time to pull the plug.
- There’s a more exciting option on the horizon. If your current business situation sucks, stop complaining. Hit the brakes and start the deep work to uncover what you really want. Once you can see that goal clearly, reverse-engineer your vision into a gameplan. Then jump on that plan like there’s no tomorrow.
Doing this may be the hardest work you’ve ever done, but what else have you got to do with your time? Either move toward building your empire or become another guy who could have, should have, would have.