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Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 15-21

February 11, 2021

A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Steen Stovall, regional director, Wyoming SBDC Network

In the normal life cycle of every business, there are going to be some periods of highs and lows.

However, there may be periods when the highs may get really high, and the lows may get really low. It’s during those times a business owner has to make some critical and necessary decisions.

Eric Ries, in his book “The Lean Startup,” describes these situations as the intersection between the questions: Do I persevere, or do I pivot? Do I persevere, with the expectation that I’ll plow ahead, weather the storm, keep operating and move forward; or do I pivot, by changing my strategy, my business model, my products and services, or the talent I utilize and recruit?

Neither of these decisions is easy, and both involve a level of some discomfort and uncertainty. Fortunately, by focusing questions in the following key areas, a business owner can make the process a little less uncomfortable and more certain.

Demand, Delivery and Diversification

The first area that should be looked at is demand. Is the product or service that the business provides still going to be required or desired? Is it still important, critical or necessary to its customer base? Are customers willing to buy it now but, more importantly, will they be willing to buy it in the future?

The second area is delivery. How does the business get its products and services to its customers -- in person, online or virtual? Is there going to be something in the future that’s either going to prevent or enhance its ability to continue in the same delivery model, or is it going to have to shift and do something completely different from what it may have done in the past?

Market conditions may change as well, thus impacting a business’s ability to deliver its product or service to its customer base.

The final area is diversification. Although diversification encompasses a lot of different factors, perhaps the most important is the business’s products and services. Should the business keep them the same, or should they be changed? Or, perhaps the business should shift in a completely different direction in terms of what it’s offering and the talent and skills it can bring to bear.

Another important factor is the business’s customer base. Does the business need to change who it’s selling to? This goes back to demand. If the demand for its products and services is decreasing in its current customer base, it may be increasing in a different customer base.

Ultimately, every business will have to decide whether to persevere or pivot at some point during its lifetime. Luckily, when that time comes, the Wyoming SBDC Network is there to help.

If you’re interested in obtaining assistance with the process of deciding whether to persevere or pivot with your business, contact your local adviser at www.wyomingsbdc.org for no-cost, confidential assistance.

The Wyoming SBDC Network offers no-cost advising and technical assistance to help Wyoming entrepreneurs think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. In 2020 alone, the Wyoming SBDC Network helped Wyoming entrepreneurs start 95 new businesses; support 6,954 jobs; and bring a capital impact of $18 million to the state. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

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