Start conversations with your ideal clients. Ideally, get out of the office and meet people face-to-face. Find out what they really want/need versus what you want to sell them. Quite often, what they’re willing to pay for is not what you expect.
The wrong way: an entrepreneur spends a large amount of time and money building something in isolation that he/she thinks their market wants. They then try to market and sell their finished product to a resistant market with disappointing results.
The right way: build an MVP – a Minimal Viable Product – and seeing if the market is interested in that. An MVP is as the name suggests, a product or service that delivers the need identified in Step 2 – without any bells or whistles.
Your market will try the MVP (or not) and that feedback will tell you if you’re on the right track. If not, you need to modify or go back to the drawing board.
Set out clear criteria of what constitutes success and failure as you build your business. Successful actions should be scaled and streamlined; unsuccessful actions should be eliminated or modified until they become successful.
Fail quickly. The more things you try, the more you fail, the quicker you’ll get to something that works. When something fails, identify what went wrong, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake twice.
Pivoting just means changing your mind, destination or approach. As you gain feedback from the market (e.g. they’re not buying!), you need to look at your strategy. Does it need to be scrapped or just modified? Do you tweak your approach or is a completely new direction required? Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t. The market is generally right.
Measure, measure, measure. Lots of people run businesses on gut-feeling but gut-feeling without data and information is just guessing. Don’t make decisions without good data to hand.
Don’t just take things at face value. Try to determine the underlying cause. A good approach is to ask “Why?” five times.
“Customers aren’t buying. Why? The price is too high. Why? Because our supply chain is too complex. Why? Because we can’t source the right product domestically. Why? Because the part we require is difficult to make. Why? Because it’s overly designed. We need to simplify our design…”
Each day, identify 3-5 things that will move your business along and only focus on doing those things. Delegate everything else.
Build a business, not a job. Your business must be scalable and not rely on you to succeed. That means having good systems and in place. Document everything and provide adequate training so that when the day comes to sell your business you can hand over the reins smoothly.