In the normal life cycle of every business there are going to be some periods of highs and lows. However, there may be periods when the highs may get really high and the lows may get really low. It’s during those times a business owner has to make some critical and necessary decisions. Eric Ries, in his book “Lean Startup,” describes these situations as the intersection between the questions: Do I persevere or do I pivot?

Do I persevere with the expectation that I’ll plow ahead, weather the storm, keep operating, and move forward; or do I pivot, by changing my strategy, my business model, my products and services, or the talent I utilize and recruit? Neither of these decisions is easy and both involve a level of some discomfort and uncertainty. Fortunately, by focusing your questions in the following key areas, a business owner can make the process little less uncomfortable and more certain.

Demand

The first area that should be looked at is demand. Is the product or service that the business provides still going to be required or desired? Is it still important, critical, or necessary to its customer base? Are customers willing to buy it now but more importantly will they be willing to buy it in the future?

Delivery

The second area is delivery. How does the business get its products and services to its customers? In person, online, or virtual? Is there going to be something in the future that’s either going to prevent or enhance its ability to continue in the same delivery model or is it going to have to shift and do something completely different than it may have done in the past?

Market conditions may change as well, thus impacting your business’ ability to deliver its product or service to its customer base.

Diversification

The final area is diversification. Although diversification encompasses a lot of different factors, perhaps the most important is the business’ products and services. Should the business keep them the same or should they be changed, or perhaps the business should shift in a completely different direction in terms of what it’s offering and the talent and skills it can bring to bear?

Another important factor is the business’ customer base. Does the business need to change who it’s selling to? This goes back to demand. If the demand for its products and services is decreasing in its current customer base it may be increasing in a different customer base.

Ultimately, every business will have to decide whether to persevere or pivot at some point during its lifetime. Luckily when that time comes, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network is there to help.

Help is Available

If you’re interested in obtaining assistance with the process of deciding whether to persevere or pivot with your business, contact your local advisor for no-cost, confidential assistance by clicking here.

About the Author: Steen has been involved in the small business and workforce development sectors for more than 25 years. A business veteran, he co-founded businesses in the oil, gas, retail, and construction industries. He’s also been involved in the academic sector, teaching classes in entrepreneurship, marketing, management, accounting, and construction planning at numerous colleges and universities. Most recently Steen served as the Interim State Director of the SBDC Network in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

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