Is it time for you to make a course correction or pivot in your online business?
I’ve asked myself this question often. Too often.
Probably because I have a bad case of shiny object syndrome. I hear about some great method for making money online. I buy the product (or attend the webinar, and then buy the expensive product). I’m convinced I’ll be able to make it work.
But it rarely does.
Then I have to ask myself the question: is it time to try something else?
It’s tempting to reach for a new system that promises so much for so little effort.
But, wait: it’s time for a reality check. I’ve been fooled by those glitzy slick marketing promises before.
None of us want to be quitters. And I certainly don’t like admitting I made a mistake. (Bet you don’t, either.)
But neither do I want to keep throwing money and time at a failing venture.
So, how do you know when it’s time to put your head down and keep going, or to rethink your strategy and go in a different direction?
When is it Time to Pivot?
Let’s think football.
Ever watch a great wide receiver pivot?
He’s running down the field. The defenders are chasing him. He’s going to be trapped, unable to meet his goal (which is catch the football.) What does he do?
He realizes that running the pattern they planned isn’t going to work. It’s time for something different.
So he pivots. One foot stays rooted in place, the other moves in another direction. He switches direction.
He eludes the defenders. He runs a few yards. The quarterback (who’s doing his own scrambling and pivoting) spots him. Throws the ball. The receiver makes the catch. Cue applause.
It’s the same with an entrepreneur. (Except for the applause part. You’ll have to do that on your own. One of the downsides of working for yourself.)
The results you planned for, worked so hard for, don’t happen.
Now you have to decide. Keep going? Or keep one foot is rooted in all you’ve learned and move the other in another direction?
Ask The Hard Questions
The only way to make this decision is to put yourself and your business under the microscope. This isn’t a time to make a decision on the fly. Think through each question one carefully.
Is My Vision for My Business Fuzzy or Vague?
If you don’t have a clear vision for how you are going to achieve your goals, then you’ll probably never make them.
Maybe what you need to do is clarify what you want to accomplish and how you are going to get there.
Is My “Why” Simply to Make Money?
You might know what you want to do. Let me guess, it’s some variation of make money.
But why? Reasons like to pay off a $1000 debt aren’t strong enough to get you out of bed in the morning to put the effort into your own business you will need to.
Why are you trying to make money online?
To travel the world? To pay for care for an elderly relative? To help people lose weight or find mates, because you really want to help them? To become a philanthropist, so you can help rescue victims of sex trafficking or orphans or stray kittens?
These are the kind of reasons that will help you stick to what you’re doing when it gets hard. If you don’t have a good why, then any set back is going to make you want to quit and try something else.
Even if you haven’t given your first plan enough time.
What about all that talk of a four-hour work week? Forget about it while you’re getting started. The short work week is for entrepreneurs who already put in the time to build a solid business.
Knowing your why, your motivation for being in business is key. If you have a burning desire to help people lose weight, you’ll be much more enthused about pushing through the growing pains of your new business than if you just want the commissions.
Are My Results Much Worse Than Planned?
Sales, email open rates, click through rates, earnings per click are some of the metrics you should be checking every day. And you should have an idea of what you want these metrics to be.
If your results are close to your targets, then maybe you need to just do a little tweaking to see if you can improve them.
If you’re way off the mark, well, that’s not good.
It’s important to include in your metrics a time frame. If you set a goal of a 3000 person email list and 10% open rates by the end of 90 days, then give yourself 90 days to get there.
If at 90 days, your list is 168, then you need to figure out why. If you did all the list building tasks you planned and you are not even at 10% of your goal, then something’s not working.
In other words, if people aren’t buying your product, then that could be a clear sign you need a different product. If people aren’t responding to what you’re doing, you might need to try something else.
Am I Feeling Disengaged?
If you don’t feel engaged with your business, no one else will be. You’ll be less likely to succeed.
Another way to ask this question is “what does my gut say?” Often gut feelings are our best guide. If your gut says this isn’t working, you might want to listen to it.
Am I looking for A Magic Bullet to Rescue Me?
If you keep searching for some magic bullet to rescue you, that’s another sign you’re not really engaged with the business you’re in, and not committed to putting in the work to make it succeed.
If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, it’s probably time for a pivot.
This time around, make sure your vision, goals, and strategies are clear. Write out a Why that inspires you to work.
Most of all, don’t let denial make your decision for you.
Two Ways Denial Can Lead You Astray
Denial could go two ways.
The first is denying your own failings. If you did not put the time and effort in that you needed to see any results, then changing direction won’t necessarily help. You’re better off committing yourself to relentless focus on what you started and giving it another 90 days.
The second is that you can turn things around with just a little tweaking. You’ve poured your heart and soul into building your business, (not to mention a fair amount of cash) and don’t want to admit defeat. If you followed a “proven” system, worked hard, and got no results, it may be time for a pivot.
Why do so many entrepreneurs end up in denial?
Eric Ries at Entrepreneur explains.
“Ask most entrepreneurs who have decided to pivot and they will tell you that they wish they had made the decision sooner. There are three reasons why this happens.
- Vanity metrics can allow entrepreneurs to form false conclusions and live in their own private reality.
- When an entrepreneur has an unclear hypothesis, it’s almost impossible to experience complete failure, and without failure there is usually no impetus to embark on the radical change a pivot requires.
- Many entrepreneurs are afraid. Acknowledging failure can lead to dangerously low morale. Most entrepreneurs’ biggest fear is not that their vision will prove to be wrong. More terrifying is the thought that the vision might be deemed wrong without having been given a real chance to prove itself.”
What does this mean for us?
Push through the fears. Of failure. Of making a mistake. Take a hard look at your business.
Pivot if you need to. Tweak, adjust and press on if you don’t.
In either case, set your timeframe (30 or 60 days) and re-evaluate where you are.
Just don’t keep repeating what you’ve been doing expecting different results. That is what some people call insanity.