October 30, 2016: It’s commonly expected that startups will pivot as their original concepts meet the tests of the market. Even the most carefully crafted plans may not correctly anticipate customer behavior, may overlook competitors, may run into unexpected technical obstacles, may be blindsided by external forces, and may ultimately not translate the founder’s vision into a workable business model. It’s generally better, however, to pivot than perish, and startup teams that can accept reality and adapt are the ones that are most likely to succeed again and again.
Here’s a discussion that has come up in several business situations in the last week. In a startup setting it is very difficult when your very survival seems to depend on the next customer in the door, or perhaps even the next investor. If you are pressed to the wall and absolutely can’t turn away an opportunity, chances can be pretty high that you will later regret that decision. It’s great to get yourself in a position where you can afford to say “no” when you realize that is the right thing to do.