As founders, a lot of what we choose to do gets scrutinized. This is especially the case when we take in investments and new partners.
Eventually, friends, family, peers, and even the media that cover your work, will jump in and do the same thing to you and your startup.
It can be overwhelming for many founders and worse, it can drive you to make the wrong decisions, which could end up killing your promising startup.
One of the most common things that drive founders crazy is the advice and perception that your startup needs to scale as soon as you launch. People expect you to make an MVP of an app then it should just go viral right from the start to reach millions of people.
In theory, it’s the best scenario! In reality, it’s the worst way to look at it.
So that brings us to this question:
Do you really have to scale right from the start?
Here’s my take.
Your First 100 Lovers
I go with a process of hitting a goal of 100 people that love you first and foremost.
This might be a small number at first glance and it seems easy to attain but that’s far from the truth! Take note, I’m talking about love, not like.
Similar to life, love trumps all. This isn’t just something you mention in passing or have a crush on. You want people to love you and be your advocates.
Getting people to “like” you will always be easier compared to getting them to LOVE you. There’s a big difference.
This is why you need to do things that don’t scale at the beginning.
I’ve mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that you need to do things that don’t scale.
I am really a firm believer in this.
It’s not because I dislike virality, huge buzz or mass adoption. In fact, I’m all for it! I just believe that you need to put in the work first to test your system before designing to go viral or putting a ton of budget in marketing.
Why? Because great marketing makes you fail faster.
Great Marketing Makes You Fail Faster?
Why do I say this?
Look at it this way, in most cases, we look at our startup as having a funnel. In it’s most basic form, we acquire sign ups, activate them and then convert them to paying users.
If you pour money for marketing or got lucky and went viral, you’ll acquire a ton of sign ups but you might not have noticed that your activation part is shitty and you’ll end up with a ton of signups that didn’t even try what you’re offering.
Let’s say they also had trouble going through your sign up process as well, wouldn’t that just be the worst?
Ok, let’s say they got to using your app and a majority “liked” it but never came back again or never upgraded to a paid plan?
That’s why I say that great marketing makes you fail faster.
You reach a ton of people, acquire signups, saturate the market, while burning money and opportunities. All the while not properly tracking your metrics. That’s how you fail faster.
Getting to Your First 100 and When to Scale
One of the more mainstream apps that actually went out and did a door to door was AirBnB.
They knew that it was impossible to get 1 million people to use it but they could get to 100 people that will love them. They went out there and just did it. Look at where they are now.
It’s not easy to get a hundred people to love your startup. That’s why you need to be in the trenches and figure out how to get them to love you. After figuring a strategy for that, you’ll then see your next challenge, which is to scale that.
How do you get them to love you? That’s something you will discover as you go along. In our case, we brought in a local feel, we showed service that they never experienced before, etc. We discovered different things along the way that our users needed and each of those added up and made them love us.
I promise you, you’ll figure it out once you start putting in the work.
Now let me ask you, which is easier?
- Scaling what you discovered to get people to love you?
- OR getting a massive number of people that “like” you to “love” you?
Do you see it now? That’s right. You don’t have to scale right from that start.
I am starting to sound like a broken record but I can’t stress this enough.
You need to do things that don’t scale at the beginning. Go out there and recruit users manually.
Rather than just sitting in front of your computer to code, go out and talk to strangers. Get rejected and find the value in what you are doing. Stop being lazy or shy or overthinking and just do it.
As founders we need to focus on getting 100 users to love what we do. There’s no need to just scale right from the start because somebody told you so.
100 might sound low! Is that really how those huge startups got started?? That’s up for you to decide.
Tell me about your story! [wp_colorbox_media url=”http://denseymour.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Snapchat-Dennis-Seymour-Philippines.jpeg” type=”image”]. Let’s chat and leave a comment below.