Business NOT as Usual
Many entrepreneurs find themselves either lost in their business and making no progress, or at a crossroad: pivot or get out. These are critical moments that can leave a business owner lost in what ifs or even asking themselves “should I fold?” I challenge most entrepreneurs to do a bit of work before choosing any of these paths. Not to say that the hours you’ve spent pondering those questions don’t count as work, but I challenge you to put pen to paper and follow the 4-step process outlined below. I’m confident it will help you organize your thoughts, look at your business without the cloud of questions lingering overhead, and hopefully help you reignite your business.
Step 1: Validate Your Vision
Complete a SWOT analysis
Complete a competitive analysis
After those are complete, answer these questions:
Is there too much competition?
What part of the business gets the most traction?
How does the marketplace respond to your brand? To your product?
Once you’ve tackled the above task, think through whether your current vision and mission statement can continue to exist unaltered. If they can, then proceed with the rest of the exercise. If they cannot, tinker with your vision/mission and assign new goals before proceeding with the following steps.
Step 2: Don’t Scrap the Work You’ve Already Done
Reflect on the first step but also draw on the historical experiences you’ve had as an entrepreneur. Don’t ignore your gut instinct either—the combination of data and intuition are what will define the path forward. With these shared perspectives, answer the following questions:
1. What is working?
2. What could be tweaked?
3. What should be eliminated?
Step 3: Listen to Your Customers
Sometimes entrepreneurs are so entrenched in their business that they ignore market signals and customer responses. I challenge you to answer the following questions without duplicating answers and substantiate your claims with real customer feedback. If you don’t have feedback, go to your tribe and ask for reactions to your brand and product. This serves two goals: it adds value to the competitive analysis exercise and proves validity for your mission and vision statements.
1. Who’s your customer?
2. Who’s your desired audience?
3. What’s the market saying, what are potential customers saying?
Step 4: Pivot for Growth
Here’s where the deep-thinking, gut-wrenching work of building out your new reality takes place. If everything above says ‘tweak and eliminate,’ then you’ll need to build out a new strategic plan, one that will support your pivot but not abandon your blood, sweat, and tears. Take to this exercise with care and heart. Heart is what differentiates the best brands and products from the mediocre.