Have you ever had to face tough a decision about which route to pursue further? Whether in personal life or in business, you will most likely have to make these decisions over and over again. It’s not always easy to know which route is the right one for you or which one will lead to more success. However, there is a nice way of thinking about the different options you have that can lead to a better outcome. Let’s discover what this way of thinking is.
Resistance makes all the difference
We all know that building a successful company is an incredibly difficult thing to do. The odds of succeeding with this are low; however, there are still many entrepreneurs out there pursuing exactly that path.
While building a successful company per se is really hard, the way there doesn’t have to be. In my first startup, Gymhopper, we had a great initial business idea (or at least we thought it was) to sell day passes for gyms across Switzerland. After talking to the first couple of gyms and trying to get them on board for free (!), we had to understand that our idea just wasn’t working and they were not interested in joining our network at all. We faced a lot of resistance from the market as we were not offering a solution to a relevant problem.
When something like this happens, you have different options on how to move forward. The first option is to insist on the market fit of your product and try to push it into the market with a lot of sales & marketing effort. You might run the risk of annoying your potential partners by aggressively contacting them, but with enough power and effort, it could work and become a suitable business. There are some examples of companies that have succeeded in doing this, like Groupon, who executed pretty aggressive sales tactics to cover the market. I personally don’t think that this is a sustainable way of doing business, neither for your partner relationships nor for your personal life because a lot of resistance usually goes hand in hand with a lot of stress.
Changing course is ok
The second option you can choose is to change course. If you don’t have investors that push you towards a more aggressive strategy, you can experiment and adapt your concept to find a better market fit. Ideally, this would entail potential clients contacting you because the problem you solve for them is highly relevant. This will not only save you the aggressive marketing tactics but also a lot of stress and headache.
While this is of course my particular preference and will depend on your own personal and company setup, it is of my opinion that if you need to push too hard for a sale, your product or solution is not good enough yet. Instead of clinging to your idea, you should be open to changing course until you don’t face any more resistance.
At Gymhopper, we changed course, talked to gym owners and asked them for feedback. Their input allowed us to adapt our model and base it on their annual gym memberships, which was the core business they were focusing on, instead of the day passes that they were not interested in. This led to us closing our first sales when simply asking for feedback. After talking to some of the gym owners, they said that if we were going to go through with this idea, they would be interested in joining our network and even paying us money.
Listen to your gut feelings
There it was: This great feeling of solving a real problem for our clients and not having to face too much resistance from the market. That’s the sweet spot. We later realized that this was only the case in Switzerland and not in international markets, but that’s a topic for another story. The point I am making is that you need to test and change course until you hit a spot where customers actually contact you and want to buy from you because you’re solving a relevant problem for them.
The logic of resistance isn’t limited to the market; you might also feel resistance when working with certain people – it’s just more effort than it should be and something doesn’t feel quite right. Take these signs seriously and change course. There’s no shame in doing that, and in the end you will be better off, have more fun along the way and will also achieve better results.
Life is too short to run against a wall you cannot break through. Change course and find a way around the wall, or choose a different wall that you can actually break through.