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So Your Business Idea Didn’t Work

The Art of the Pivot

If your idea doesn’t work, change your idea.

Author: Dan Craddock
April 1, 2018

So Your Idea Was Awful

It’s ok, sometimes it happens. Sometimes you come up with a great business idea, and then when it comes time to execute, you find out it’s terrible. Maybe you watched too many motivational speakers, yelling about customer acquisitions. Or maybe you didn’t watch enough about scalability. Either way, you’ve come to a point where you need to make a decision. Do you take what you’ve learned from the real world and pivot, or do you toss a match and walk away.


We do not suggest blowing up anything, and do not accept blame, liability, or medical expenses from blowing up your dreams.


Do you walk away?

I know it seems like a great idea to tuck your tail and run when an idea doesn’t work out. And there might be some value in just abandoning the entire plan, but let’s talk about that a little bit. A bad plan right now, might be a great plan next year. It’s great to keep some sort of journal for this stuff. I typically keep something on my phone where I can house brainstorming bits and pieces. I’ve got plenty of awful ideas, and some of them have turned into pretty good ideas for Metro Nova, or even for other clients. If you’re in the b2b market, keeping plans on hand can provide you with a great value ad, and even lead to consulting services if you get good at it. Or, you can finally start that hot dog enthusiasts blog.


Do you pivot, and race for the finish line?

So the other option, instead of walking away from an idea, or saving it for a rainy day, is the pivot. This can be tough to do for an entrepreneur who really believes in their product or idea. But sometimes it’s incredibly important. Essentially, you’re moving forward with your idea, but you’ve changed one or more of the foundational aspects of the idea to make it more market ready. It could be the main product, or the type of customer you’re selling to, or even the platform you’re using. A perfect example is a phone call I had recently with an entrepreneur who had her entire plan laid out in front of her, with GUSTO.


She was ready to go with her business, she knew her product, she knew her demographic, she thought she knew her platform. She wanted us to develop a brand identity, social media marketing campaigns, a logo refresh, a custom website, and an app for her customers to use. She wanted all of these things and was so confident she needed them, that she wasn’t taking on clients until they were complete so she could make sure they knew she meant business. The only problem….she had about 4% of the budget needed to complete all of those tasks. You see, she was so hyper focused on the end result, and her business idea, that she didn’t take time to understand the work needed to bring it all together.

So where’s the pivot for her? Facebook, she mentioned that she had started a small Facebook page and it was getting a little bit of traction, and she even had some possible customers reach out (the ones she wasn’t taking on). I told her that Facebook would provide a scaled down version of what she’s hoping to accomplish and allow her to build equity in the business so she can achieve all of her goals for development. So after some sad sounds coming from the other end of the line.


She picked herself up (I assume figuratively, she was in the car), dusted herself off and agreed to change how she was moving forward. And that using the tools in front of her in the right way was the best option for now.

That’s not easy to do folks, and I admire her understanding and flexibility in the pivot. To go from being really pumped about a phone call that was supposed to be the solution to all your branding problems, to being told that you’re trying to leap over a canyon when you haven’t even started to walk yet is tough. But it’s the reality of starting and running a business. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you don’t.


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