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How to Handle the Startup Dip

Written By: Bob 1 December 2010 Other Posts By: Bob

I read The Dip by Seth Godin a few weeks ago.  For those not familiar with The Dip, Godin’s book helps you figure out when it’s time to quit.  In a typical startup, there will be many dips.  I define a dip as anything that makes you question what you’re doing.  Have 1,000 visitors to your website last week and not 1 signup?  That’s a dip.  Send your startup link to a friend with excitement only to receive “advice” that your idea stinks and you should get a full time job? Yeah, another dip right there.  Dips are normal in startups – not having one would be weird.  There are different ways to handle dips, and how you handle these dips will effect how successful your company becomes.

Below are the possible responses to dips…

Stay the Course

Dips are normal.  If you’re optimistic 100% of the time, you’re not paranoid enough to be an entrepreneur.

Don’t forget that there is a cause for everything that happens in your startup.  Don’t get emotional, get logical.  If zero people are signing up for your product, maybe it’s a usability issue – I would suggest investing in some user testing from usertesting.com.

If you’re explaining your startup to a friend and the response is that he “just doesn’t get it”, you should consider the circumstances.  Is he in your target market?  Does he understand the product clearly?  Can there be some aspect of the product that really doesn’t make sense?  Probe your friend about his feedback.  Don’t limit this conversation.  Even though you don’t like the feedback, try to probe him and find out more information.  More importantly, keep an open mind.  Odds are you probably don’t have a perfect product.

You may find out that the error because people don’t understand your product because of the site design or sales copy.  If it’s more than that, you may need to…


You must pivot when necessary.  Pivots can be small to large.  You may design to shift revenue models or even change industries.

Before you pivot, make sure you have a list of assumptions.  Do your best to validate or invalidate these assumptions.  Make sure you have hard data to prove that you’re pivot is well founded. For example, if you think your price point is too expensive.  Add a price plan on your website that takes you to a “Sorry, but this is coming soon” page and see how many people click to buy this plan versus your original plan.  If people are clicking on it, your assumption may be correct.  If they still aren’t clicking on it, maybe that’s probably not the issue affecting your sales.

You can find more information about pivoting from Eric Ries’ Startup Lessons Learned Blog

If you pivoted numerous times or think the startup game isn’t for you, then maybe you should consider…


If you have  a family and bills to pay, you can’t pivot forever.  Although you may be able to keep your company’s burn low, you have a lot of overhead from your family responsibilities.  After watching a few Shark Tank episodes, I understand that some people take mortgages out on their house and max out their credit cards chasing a startup idea.  Be smart and don’t risk your family’s financial future by being an entrepreneur.

Startup Dip Conclusions

The Startup Dip is something many people don’t like to think about.  We like to think we’re be making millions and count our future dollars exponentially.  The reality is that bad times happen in every startup.  Startups are about the “highest of the highs” and the lowest of the lows.  Handling the lows is what can get you to the highs.


Bob Cavezza


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  • Victorvijay

    when your idea or plan didn't work,just dig deep to find that you have more better ideas.never give up.

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