By Tyler Bray, CEO, owner and founder of The Trailer Parts Outlet.
Entrepreneurs constantly have to make decisions. The stress of doing so can wear us out. That’s why I like to keep a mental (or even physical) set of rules, guides or questions I can ask myself when the time to make a new decision comes. One of the most important decisions an entrepreneur will ever make is whether to pivot or stick to the plan they’re using. Let’s walk through how to make this decision together.
Check Whether Your Bias For Action Is Working For Or Against You
If you’re an entrepreneur, you already have a bias for action. That’s a tendency toward taking the leap, starting the business or committing to an investment. You don’t want to be in the exact same place you were a year ago. That’s wonderful. It means you actually do things. It also means you probably can’t sit still and stay on course. Take time to carefully ask yourself if you are pivoting because you’re restless or because you’re fine-tuning your course.
Know That Your Next Pivot Should Not Be Random
You shouldn’t react to every disappointing quarter by ripping up your foundation. List factors that might be contributing to your lack of success other than a failure of your fundamental business model. If you do pivot, make sure it is not in a random direction, but something that more closely reflects your true goals.
Articulate Your Reason For A Pivot As Clearly As You Can
If you are making a restless, anxious pivot, you won’t be able to articulate your reasoning to anybody. If you’re making an entrepreneurial choice that brings you closer to your goals, you’ll be able to make a certain amount of sense of that plan for fellow business leaders, your own management team or anyone you trust. Write down the purpose of the pivot first for yourself, then ask people who you know have good judgment and honest, worthwhile opinions to check it. In the moment, be wary of your biggest cheerleaders. We all need support sometimes, but when it comes to large commitments, you can learn more from constructive pushback and smart questions.
Determine Whether You Can Fine-Tune Your First Plan Rather Than Pivot
You’ve invested so much into teaching your team your mission and processes. What if instead of a jarring pivot, you simply fine-tuned your priorities? You might have set a team goal of higher revenue, but now you would rather see larger margins on a smaller total amount of revenue. You might decide you’re ready to scale up and you’re willing to invest more in your marketing now. Sometimes, the less you rattle or redirect your team, the better. Sometimes a bad quarter is a sign of external realities, not a need for an overhaul. Factor this into whether you fine-tune or full-on pivot as well.
Finally, Remember That There Is No Rush
As a business leader, you probably live with a sense of urgency. You know it’s not ideal, but you probably even chose your business over the basics like food and sleep at times, or at least, you have in the past. If you do have to pivot, you don’t have to pivot right now. You can give yourself a week or even a month to make the decision. While many business decisions are urgent, take enough time for yourself to know the difference between genuine and self-imposed urgency. Get adequate sleep and proper nourishment, and make time for self-care. Make the decision to pivot in the best frame of mind possible. Good luck.