Painful as it may seem, sometimes your first start-up idea is not the one that will deliver the success you dream of. There are many, many, good examples of hugely successful businesses that started out doing something else. Slack, for example, began as a tool for gaming developers to talk to each other. Slack has subsequently developed into a real-time messaging, archiving and search for all modern teams, not just game developers.
In this post we look at eight reasons why you might want to reconsider your current business idea and pivot your product or service. Let's get started.
Are you actually fixing a problem that other people are willing to pay for? You may have a great solution to a problem, but either your timing may be too early, or perhaps people can live with the current minor inconvenience. Neither of which are what you want to hear, but it might be something about which you need to be aware.
Competitor research is always important. You need to make sure you’re not spending excessive time and resources on developing a solution to a problem that already has a good solution. Google search is not perfect, but if you are looking to surpass it, you need to make sure your product is clearly superior.
The price of your product may well come down in the future, but is it at a price level currently where anyone might be interested in buying it? Tesla’s first electric car was a limited-edition expensive sports model. This worked for Elon Musk however because they used the limited product run to learn a lot about scaling up for larger mass production of their later cars. He also had several hundred million to fund the initial R&D phase. You need to have sufficient ‘burn time’ for money to spend before revenue starts coming in. Make sure you think about money and the amount you need to spend on your product before trying to sell it to others.
This is a challenge. Do you change the team to fit the product, or the product to fit the team? It might be counter-intuitive at a big company to change the product to suit the team. However, if you are a small start-up with some co-founders who have particular skill sets, why not develop a killer product based on the skills you have in-house.
You may have an excellent product but you are trying to sell it in a sector that doesn’t have any interest or funds to buy what you are offering. FinTech is an area attracting lots of attention, funding and business. It may be worth looking at if the amazing product you have developed is an answer looking for the right problem, in a more financially buoyant sector.
You might be moving steadily along with a good idea in an established industry. However, it is important to always keep looking at new areas, fields, and trends to see if there are some green field / blue water opportunities. Quite often there are great opportunities for those that adapt quickest, and then improve on their products with the benefit of capturing a good market share early on. If you leave it too late to move into what was a new opportunity you may find users are already loyal to other products.
There are more and more ways to study if people like your product and how they are using it. If you are open to surprises, and looking at what is doing well, and what is not, you may then be open to realising you need to pivot. Many companies, such as Nokia and Kodak, kept doing the same things rather than understanding how the market was changing. This may lead you into obsolescence rather than remaining relevant.
We’re not saying every day at work is going to be fun, fun, fun. However, if you truly hate what you are doing, and have no enthusiasm for it, it may well be time to look at doing something different. As the founder of a company, you are potentially in a privileged position. Not everyone has the ability to change what they are working on, or their career path. However, as a founder the world can be a little more open to you in terms of redefining what you chose to work on. This is one of the pros of being an entrepreneur after all - that you can work on things about which you are passionate. Also, if you’re not, it quickly becomes clear to others, which will only make it harder for you to be enthusiastic about promoting what you have created.