I am going to suspend the history lesson for a moment. I wanted to share some comments on the art of pivoting . In the corporate world being able to pivot can take years if not decades. Notable exceptions are of course Apple , IBM etc.. In a startup you sometimes will have to pivot and pivot quickly. A very good example of recent pivot came from Groupon. Basically a pivot is to change the course of a product or service based on the needs of your potential or current customers. This modification may take place based on feedback from customers or a new feature added to an existing product that changes the course of the business model.
I found many times in the corporate world people would often times get frustrated when an obvious opportunity evolved from changing a legacy business model. Often times senior management was unwilling to “rock the boat” or try new things. This typically leads to a slow and painful death for the company or its growth and often times leads to employees leaving.
I am learning that it is ok and very necessary to pivot. I have been fighting the urge to hold on to an original business model and try new things to see how they resonate. It was the way I was raised in the corporate life. It is ok not to pivot sometimes for a tried and true proven model. There is certainly something to be said for holding to your core values as a company, but not in all cases see Kodak and many others.
We recently may have stumbled on to a potential home run at Flashissue by listening to our clients needs. One thing to remember about a pivot. Not all pivots are successful. Listening to the clients needs are paramount that will typically lead you to a successful product change. Holding on to an old inefficient business model never serves the client or the company well. Learn to listen, learn to change and be nimble or you in turn are learning to fail. Not all great ideas succeed but you will have a better rate of success by executing on the needs of your clients.
Any other thoughts I may have missed? Have you ever observed a pivot in the corporate world that worked?
The fun part about being in a startup is that all of the experience you have gained in your career often does not amount to anything. After being at FlashIssue for a month now I realize while having experience is beneficial it really does not amount to a hill of beans when starting from scratch. I don’t want to say that all I have learned over the past couple of years is useless, but it all boils down to the customer and building your product off of feedback. It is a very different experience. I will document it soon here. I will say that the experience gained by talking to executives has proved to be very valuable. I have talked to a few executives in my first month that I never thought I would speak to. It has been very exciting. Some of that was my experience, most of it is Flashissue the product… but enough about that. And now the rest of the story….
The break in was very tough on me mentally. After the reality of my break in set in, and I finally understood the benefits of good insurance. I started my job at Circuit City. After a few months I saved a couple of hundred dollars and was ready to move out on my own. I put down the deposit and moved in with a bunch of hand me down furniture that I was extremely thankful to have. I remember the feeling after I plunked down my rent. I have a few more weeks to come up with next months rent. It was a very shallow feeling but very motivating at the same time. It was time to hustle…
While starting at Circuit City, I was shocked about how much training was involved. They trained us to do everything and I was a sponge for the knowledge.. The management was incredible. I felt very comfortable here. I had a team and a support network. It seemed as if everyone had my back. It was great.. but there was an issue after a couple of months. It started to get slow… really slow. Circuit City taught us how to run our business from installation, to sales, all the way to managing a P & L. We as a team, were empowered to control our own destiny. The main issue was that we could only install what was sold on the sales floor or what walked in off the street. We as a team were not selling much. My main role was installation. I figured out really quickly I need to be more assertive to make our monthly bonus. Again, my entrepreneurial instincts kicked in. I began to wonder up to the front of the store to find out where the breakdown was. Was it customer flow? Was the department being covered properly? Not sure, but I was going to find out. After about a half day casing the situation. I found out what the problem was. The sales people were selling more in other departments and neglecting our department. I walked back to my manager and asked what the policy was about me selling in the department to bring installs back to us. He said “go for it.” The first time I walked on to the sales floor I talked with a customer and sold him a complete system with installation. Needless to say we ended up making many monthly bonuses and grew the department quickly.
After 9 years with Circuit City, I can say it was one of the best experiences of my life. At the time, I had no idea how good the training and experience was. It proved to be very beneficial for my future. Many people have learned about this company from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins . I was very fortunate to be a part of this company during the time the book addresses. The management and training I received was incredible. They relocated me 10 times in 9 years. I gained invaluable experience and insight into everything from hiring,training, performance management, sales management, and teamwork. During the end of my experience at Circuit City the culture changed quickly. Many executives began to leave to competitors. I could see the writing on the wall, it was time to look for an exit strategy. I never thought I would leave the company. I truly enjoyed the experience. Even the holidays ( it was retail) were a challenge and we made it fun. It was time to move on, and I was scared. I gave nine years to a company and gained a ton of experience but I did not have the one thing I needed to take my career to the next level…. a degree.
After the company moved me from Chicago to Atlanta. I was looking for a role to get me back to Chicago as I recently engaged to be married. My fiancee was recently graduated and lived in Chicago. It was time to suck it up go to night school school full time and work full time. After I just escaped the retail and working weekends they were now dominated by The University of DePaul. It was tough, but I sucked it up and finished in 3 1/2 years. While going to school full time I worked in the yellow pages industry. It began my love affair with working with small businesses and advertising. The month I graduated my wife and I decided we wanted to relocate to Atlanta,Ga. I had lived in Atlanta for a few years while at Circuit City and really liked the area. Plus after coming back to Chicago from Atlanta I was not sure I could handle the winters anymore…. So off to Atlanta we went…