Business ideas almost never work right out of the gate. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs put a ton of pressure on themselves to make their idea work.
The truth is, every business goes through natural shifts over time.
It’s true. If you’re building a business, expect to make shifts and tweaks over time… because from our experience it seems that’s just what entrepreneurs do.
We’ve seen this hundreds of times with Fizzle members.
Entrepreneurs come up with an idea, and then they tweak, twist, pivot and adjust over time to see what will work.
We all want a business that’s growing. And we all — every one of us who’s doing the work — knows what it’s like to feel stagnant, motionless for too long.
If you want a growing business, you’re going to need to know how to make little tweaks over time.
For example, Slack, which is a huge success story. Before they built Slack, they were a game company. Just a few years ago they were building games when they came up with the idea for a team communication tool. Now Slack is a poster child for startup success.
When you look at that story today, a few years in to Slack being a massive success, it seems like a massive “pivot.” But I wonder how it felt inside the company at the time. Was it just a small project a few of the team members were working on? Was it a “I guess we can allocate some resources that direction and see if anything comes of it” kind of thing?
I want us to think more like that; less like a “pivot” and more like a “tweak” or “adjustment.”
With that in mind, answer this question:
What kind of feedback are you looking for here? There’s a ton of places you could look.
I want you to do something. It might not be something you were thinking about doing when you started reading this.
So what? You’re here because you want a growing business; you want results, success and a sense of personal satisfaction.
So, I want you to listen to something… all the way through.
It’s not hard. Just go on a walk or something while you listen. (Besides, walking is a good way to stimulate creativity.)
I want you to listen to this episode because:
OK, I’ll share more on the other side of this podcast, but first you should listen to this episode.
In the episode above we tell the stories of John & Dana of Minimalist Baker and Corbett Barr of ThinkTraffic and Fizzle.
Listen to the episode for those stories (because they’re real good!).
I want to focus us here on the third story we told: Chris and Julia of A Bar Above. Here’s the original question I asked Julia:
“We’re sharing our stories of how we pivoted or changed biz ideas early on or throughout our businesses. You guys came to mind. A blog promoting a course… later on a tweak towards making, marketing and selling your own bar tools. In your own words, what led to even TRYING to make that shift? And why did you stick with it?”
And here’s what she wrote:
Great question. Our answer isn’t very fancy really… we just kept trying stuff that didn’t work until we tried something that worked. Chris and I have been using the word “hypothesis” instead of “idea”. “Hey, I have a hypothesis: what if we made X for Y person in Z way.” Of course that sounds wonderful and great, but it’s a whole lot harder when your bank balance is dwindling.
Here’s a high level timeline:
So much for a brief timeline… but I hope the above illustrates the point. We tried a lot of stuff and failed before we found something that worked. I don’t think you can really call it a “pivot” because that makes it sound like it was well thought out, strategic, etc. I’d really just say we kept trying stuff until we found something that worked well. I know it’s not as glamorous but that’s the truth… for us at least!
As far as advice goes… obviously I’d love to go back and tell myself not to do all of the things that didn’t work… but on the other hand I think they were important experiences that taught us about our audience. I guess I would tell our past selves to just stick with it. We have always cared deeply about our audience and tried to find ways to serve them. Eventually we found something that serves them and supports us.
It totally sucks in the middle part, when money is dwindling and you feel like a huge failure. It’s easy to wonder if your idea is just different from all those gurus. But we knew we were doing something important because we got emails all the time from people who said we helped them. I think maybe it was a matter of just trying lots of stuff until we found something that would support us AND serve them. (But again…SO easy to say in retrospect…)
Hot damn. I don’t know if you guys know but that is a KILLER look into how REAL entrepreneurs troubleshoot and tweak over time… even when — especially when — the bank account is dwindling.
Here’s a list of all those tweaks/attempts they made:
The key here is that you are trying stuff. Sure, we all want clarity and certainty before we get started, but that’s not often how it works. You have to TRY things, commit to projects, execute and measure results of things.
So, what are you going to do?
If you want to talk it over, you should know about the community of entrepreneurs that won’t let you quit, because we’re having real conversations like these inside Fizzle all the time.
Break a leg, out there, you guys. Nobody can build your business for you, and no entrepreneur hits a home run on their first attempt.
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