Agility and the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances or failed plans is one the many common behavioral characteristics I identified over the past year and a half I spent interviewing entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
For example, when financing for ad-supported social networks abruptly collapsed in 2008, so did David F.’s plan for growing his online youth sports community. Without external funding for extensive outreach, customer acquisition was prohibitively slow. Rather than diverting his limited resources in a (likely futile) attempt to boost marketing, David completely reconsidered his business model. While recruiting at a local event, David learned from a Little League official how outdated and difficult the company’s software was to use. After further inquiry, David recognized that recreational sporting institutions could use his current social networking system to manage their backend customer registration. With a minor product tweak and a major shift in strategy, David emerged from the brink of failure, more profitable than ever.
Balancing initiatives is particularly difficult for start-ups, for which every big decision is interrelated. If seemingly insurmountable challenges arise, entrepreneurs must be willing to make drastic changes to their original plan.