The art of the pivot, part 1

I was recently interviewed by Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer and he asked about our “pivot” from providing retail and consumer driven service messaging, to enterprise mobile messaging and data. Specifically, he wanted to know when you (as an entrepreneur) know you have to make a shift and how you go about turning the ship in a new direction.

My reaction was fairly off the cuff, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since he asked and wanted to follow up on my thoughts. I have, for the most part, landed on the following: Listening, Team, and Trust. I’ll cover listening first so I don’t write a 10 page yawner.

First, when I say, “listen” I really mean “talk” – much to the dismay of co-workers and sometimes prospects. But listening and talking go hand in hand. You must pitch and pitch and pitch, but equally you must listen, listen and listen.

My mom always said, “you have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk.” As an entrepreneur you talk, (or should be talking) to everybody. More specifically “potential customers” – talk talk talk talk talk.

I really don’t know how the so called “stealth” companies do it. They go underground with this great idea that’s going to shock the world and keep it a secret for fear that a competitor may line up against them and take something from them. To that I say, “HOOEY!” If I have learned anything, it is that it’s not ONLY about great product, it’s about execution. Anyway, I digress, different blog different day….

Talking to customers is just simply important. Different sizes, different industries, different objectives and you just… simply… listen. And as you are talking (and listening) know this: Everyone wants to see something new and they all have opinions on it – so get ready.

Your job, as the entrepreneur is to filter what is relevant and what is not. Envision product adoption in a way that is scalable. Ask yourself if this is an isolated comment, problem or solution or could it apply to a majority of people in the industry or business in which you are solving the problem? Will they pay for it? Is it a vitamin or aspirin?

Smart listening can make you, or break you. Warning to those of thin skin or who may not have the real world experience to apply your idea to the industry you have chosen to address – this could hurt a little.

Listen, be nimble, be determined, and be thoughtful. Take in the data, and the decision will be a no brainer.

Jonathan Erwin
Founder and CEO





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