This is a really interesting piece that I hope will provide a tremendous amount of value to entrepreneurs and operators alike. I want to talk about the art of the pivot, and more importantly, not being romantic about when it’s time to move on.
If you watch the first episode of “Planet Of The Apps,” you will see that I end up mentoring a company through to the final pitch. Without divulging too many details, the company I mentor is faced with an enormous challenge concerning the possibility of a pivot.
In order to find out what happens next, download Apple Music for three months free!
Let me know on Twitter how you think they did at the end of show 😉
But more importantly, and more broadly, this article is about being able to take the leap. Even when it feels uncomfortable, or uncertain, or scary, you have to go for it. When I am sitting in the room, and I have to make a decision, I just do it. I go all in and I try to see it through.
Butttttt I am also extremely open to change.
Everyone pivots, it’s just the truth. This is why I always talk about not being romantic. Not being romantic about the platform, or the app, or the current trend or the new partnership, or the account I just landed for VaynerMedia. Everything could change in an instant and I realize that.
Change is the only constant and if you stay open, you can win.
It’s just real. Back in the 90’s people told me that no one would ever buy wine on the internet. Clearly I am glad that I took that chance. They told me that Facebook was just a “trend” and that no one would ever drink Rosé. But when the market changed, so did I. It doesn’t matter what my original thesis was, I adapted and I made it work.
There are so many ideas that I have tried that started out as one thing and ended up as another. Opportunities that I pivoted on or changed my mind. I deployed a lot of my time and certainly my own money into Cork’d, a wine/social media site and it didn’t work out. But Facebook could have just as easily been Myspace or Social Net or Friendster and gone to zero. You really never know.
For instance, I spent a lot of time, energy, and money marketing and creating on Vine, but the day it started to fall off, I didn’t flinch. I moved on. The learnings I gained were invaluable. I was able to apply my knowledge from one platform to the next and win. What is there to lose when you’ve got one life?
Some things you just can’t predict. Like the result of an election, or a natural disaster, or some global macro event that is going to redirect your course. You have to be open and you have to be willing to change.
In the case of business it could be that you now have competitors or a big incumbent is trying to copy your product or a deal falls through and you’re short on revenue. You have to adjust. Look at what has been going on recently between Instagram and Snapchat. We are living through the era of Facebook (and consequently Instagram) copying every major feature of every major competing service in order to eliminate the competition.
But Evan Spiegel won’t back down. Snapchat just released it’s new ad product, and geofilters for brands. They are experimenting with hardware like the Snap Spectacles and have just gone through a major rebranding calling themselves “a camera company.”
This, to me is the sign of a great entrepreneur. Someone who faces change head on and is willing to pivot to make things work.
Listen, there is always going to be competition, and big incumbents, and people trying to tear you down that attempt to encroach upon your space. There are going to be downsides and market trends, and global events and unexpected circumstances that change your plan. You have to be patient and you have to react and decide how to play.
It’s really the key to success. To remain open and think about how you can adjust. The long term vision and mission are the only things that truly matter. The details and circumstances are almost impossible to control. You just have to go with the flow and be open to pivot. It’s the only way.
I would love to hear what you think about the importance of adjusting and pivoting in your life or your startup? How has this changed the way you do business? What have you learned?
I look forward to hearing from you!