How to avoid a ‘lazy pivot’: this chart shows when to pivot or quit

Entrepreneurship equals resilience. I recently read this post by an entrepreneur named Dillon Scott that illustrates the point well:

“What would [entrepreneurship] be worth if it didn’t suck every last drop of your persistence, dedication, sanity and motivation from you? Nothing.”

“It’s in those moments where every last drop has been extracted that we either drill a new well and find ourselves or we let the drought of adversity run it’s course. Not me though, I’ve found my empty buckets consistently return full when I take the effort to cast them into the dark well.” (from here, emphasis mine)

The image of “drilling a new well” struck me  enough to remember the blog post almost two months after I read it – and I read a lot of blog posts.

But when do you know it’s time to quit? And how can you be sure it’s time to try something new and pivot? A pivot can be an easy way out, writes startup mentor Ben Yoskovitz – a lazy pivot:

“many entrepreneurs use the pivot as an excuse to remain delusional and shift their fleeting attention to something else, after the slightest setback”.

How do you know you’re not chasing an ADD fix? How can you protect yourself from your own grandiose dreams?

Among other things, Yoskovitz suggests using an objective method to measure your KPI’s (I do hope you are familiar with key performance indicators).

He says:

  • choose a KPI that would have the most impact on the fundamental health your startup (retention, revenue, engagement),
  • draw a line in the sand of where you want to move the KPI, and then
  • start doing things that should improve the KPI

If you can’t get the KPI past the “line in the sand”, that’s when you can decide to pivot – or give up, if you can’t come up with a pivot that would fascinate you enough to slog through the hard work that will invariably follow after the pivot.

Here’s the chart. Tell us about your pivots! Do you have any other tips and tricks?

Read Ben Yoskovitz’ blog / photo Jo Naylor, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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