5 Pivots by an Entrepreneur

There are two distinct categorisations even within the realm of ‘entrepreneurs’ globally. There are the flamboyant risk takers and then there are the relatively safe players. However, both have to embrace the ‘pivot’ or the policy of change, almost overhauling the enterprise onto an absolutely new path. Pivoting is considered essential for any entrepreneur to be able to stay afloat in today’s dynamic and hyperactive market place.

Amazon went from selling just books online back in 1995 to selling everything from baby nappies to home decor to chocolate chip cookies today, thanks to an advanced customer-metrics systems and an efficient network of fulfilment centres that deliver good quickly and at minimal cost.

Back home the success of Paytm is an example of what can be achieved by creating the right pivot strategies. Founded in 2010, Paytm initially focused only on mobile and DTH recharges and was a close competitor to freerecharge. However, in 2014 it decided to go big and stand in direct competition to FlipKart and Amazon by selling more than just ‘recharge with benefits.’ Today with direct investment from the likes of Ratan Tata and Alibaba Investment Inc of China, Paytm is one of the mega players in the rapidly growing e-commerce space in India.

It is a well known fact that Sir Richard Branson happens to be one of the most well known entrepreneurs and “influencers” on the planet with more than 8 million followers on Linkdin alone.

He started off at the tender age of 15 selling a magazine called Student and by the time he turned 24, he was already heading an empire! Virgin Group of companies is a well respected conglomerate and it’s off shoots Virgin Records, Virgin Airways and Virgin Mobile enjoyed runaway success. However, few can forget the failure that Virgin Cola bought about for the global giants and just how badly it affected Branson’s personal reputation as a Business Whiz as well as his finances.

The ‘cool’ entrepreneur remained unfazed by the harsh criticism. He reviewed and analysed and accepted his mistake of having ventured into such a territorial marketing space with a product that wasn’t as well ‘conceptualised’ as it should have been to sustain competition from mega players such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He also has strategically refrained from entering the same space again so far. When on his entrepreneurial adventures he is well known for wanting to give everything a fair shot at least once, and this is the very trait combined with his ability to keep his ego aside and apologise in person for his mistakes (without blaming his top management) which has ensured a 90% success rate for his many ventures.

For an entrepreneur, the 5 essentials to managing a successful pivot are –

  1. Be gutsy but not fool-hardy. Research your target group, analyse the trends, stalk your competition and then don’t be afraid of jumping right in!
  2. Always have a back up plan. No plan is fool proof and a back- up plan is a must. It can you tide over any collateral damage rather quickly.
  3. Always start off with some extra funds than you originally perceive as cost of investment. Liquidation is a quick affair when branching out and you don’t want to bleed dry before you start reaping in the profits.
  4. Invest in the right people. At the end of the day, your vision is in their hands. Make sure they are capable and up for the challenge.
  5. Don’t be disheartened when in spite of all, your venture fails to take off. It’s a plan that failed. It does not mean that you have failed on a personal level. Learn to stand your ground to any undue criticism but also learn to apologise for your mistakes. Don’t blame it on your ‘people.’ Respect others first, if you wish to be respected by your peers.

They say that an entrepreneur’s journey never really ends. It ebbs and flows with time, each cornerstone marking a new opportunity to be capitalised upon.

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