Are continuous client-led iterations the key to success or would new running shoes be a better investment? The advice appears to focus on persevering with your pivots and to keep making changes, especially when self-doubt sets in… and doubt inevitably looms after your 100th failed attempt at launching a new venture, winning investment or turning a profit. Here are some insights from the field...
Keep reinventing your pitch
Canva co-founder, Melanie Perkins, shares her experience of staying upbeat. She found the perseverance she needed to span a decade of rejection and challenge, to eventually disrupt the graphic design field with an online platform of design tools, fonts and templates. Her takeaway for disruptors? Staying focused on what can be changed.
"Having little experience when I started probably meant that I didn’t know what was impossible, so I viewed everything with fresh eyes. At every stage of our company there has been a lot to learn. If I had known all of the things that I didn’t know at the start and thought that learning everything upfront was a prerequisite to starting it would have been impossible to take the first step.
"There is always a lot of rejection for entrepreneurs in their early days. But every time we got a hard question or a reason why people wouldn’t invest, we stayed focused on what we could change.
"I revised our pitch deck after every meeting, more than 100 times in one year, to answer the questions or fix the reason for rejection from the last time. You just have to keep going. The normal thing to do after your 100th, 80th or even 20th ‘no’ would be to stop, but you just have to persevere."
Pivotal customer-led changes
When making changes consider your customer feedback, advises Maz Nadjm. Founder of SoAmpli, an advocate marketing and sales platform, Maz admits to coming back "from under the ground" in 2016 by pivoting and adjusting to selling more than ever.
"I picked the positive points from my clients - what they liked and didn't like, looked at my stats, made a decision and convinced business partner and investors and I ran with it.
Preparing to pivot is a low point, shared Maz, who says you need to be bold and strong enough to be able to walk away if it comes to it: "When you have to let your team go, when persona and business bank accounts are both crying. When you owe money and can't even pay the hosting.
"I had to look for the positive in offering I had, it was not necessary in front of me, but I was digging deep. I was looking for low hanging fruit, money in so that I can live on, build on and survive. I reacted and changed the offering in text, presentation and website.
"It is very easy for the negative to take over, not being able to pay the mortgage, no salary, letting colleagues go at the same time keeping clients happy, but pushing the negative out and ONLY focusing on success one step at the time, was key learning for me.
"Having dedicated colleagues is really important, I am not talking co-founders but team members who truly believe in what you are doing, they push you and them offering not taking salary etc, keeps you more focused."
The going is inevitably tough for start-ups, so it’s comforting to know that - just like staying healthy - small changes can make big differences.