The Power of the Pivot

When working with students through the business planning or concept stage, they often have a clear vision of what their business model will look like. Some can visually see the retail or restaurant space. Sometimes they have seen a quaint retail space  with an "Available for Rent" sign in the window. They have envisioned the kitchen, table and chairs even the curtains on the window. I call this the "drape" syndrome. Others who are creating a service business have no problem outlining their products and services (especially if they are the "service"), but really have not gone beyond the assumption that the customers will want not only their services, but be willing to pay the "asking price."

A huge part of business planning is actually spent in research, testing and pivoting. One of the primary reasons for business planning is to prove the the model is financially viable. That work is not for the bank, it is for you. REMEMBER - You are your first investor. You are investing time, money, energy and passion. It is critical to ensure it is the right investment for you and your family. It is essential to get those questions answered, before you begin not after. In reality, you will never be 100% certain, but you can certainly improve your odds of success.

However, often through this process, students discover that their original business model is NOT financially viable. As expected, they are devastated. My response is often "Yay, you did not spend $50,000 finding out it wouldn't work. You lost some sticky notes and your time. The next question is "Now What?" Focus on developing a new business model that CAN work. It is time to PIVOT." Once they learn that pivoting is a natural state for an entrepreneur and small business owner, they become more comfortable with the process. Pivoting becomes a natural part of the process. 

As the saying goes "Stuff Happens". Preparing for it means looking at trends, evaluating new technology and evaluating new opportunities. By doing those things on a regular basis it is more likely that you can pivot by choice not in desperation. I always tell my students to make PIVOT their middle name, make it yours.