The 9 Specific Things We Did To Build A $100M Business In 3 Years

During an interview last week I was asked to talk about the most impactful things we did in the early days at BigCommerce (2009–2012) to grow the company from nothing to a $100M valuation during that time, so I thought I’d share my speaking notes here to help other founders on their journey.

Invest In Design As A Differentiator

  • Every business has some element of design that can be used as a competitive advantage to get new customers or employees
  • What is the first impression potential customers get when they experience your brand? (reception area, website, etc)
  • Think about your customer experience and how you can improve that with efficient design

Be Tied To Your Vision, But Not Your Approach

  • Be open to new ways of accomplishing a goal — even if those ideas aren’t yours
  • Look at what your competitors and companies in other industries are doing and apply what’s working to your business
  • “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” — if something is important, make sure it’s being measured

Not All Customers Are Created Equally

  • Understand who your “perfect customer” is
  • Reallocate your marketing budget to get your message in front of more people who look like your perfect customer
  • Team your team how to recognize (lead score) potential perfect customers and reach out to them first

Don’t Plan More Than 18 Months Out

  • If you’re growing fast, your company will be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in 18 months from now
  • You will probably have to replace your leadership team more than once over the next few years — and that’s OK
  • Hire for where you want to take the company over the next 18 months — not 2/5/10 years

Don’t Rely On A Single Marketing Channel

  • Understand the pros and cons of different marketing channels, especially online
  • Get something working in one marketing channel and then test it across other marketing channels
  • If it works on other channels, split your budget between those channels so you’re not reliant on a single source of leads or customers

Bonus Your Team Based On Customer Success

  • The customer needs to be at the center of every decision your team makes, especially your leadership team
  • The best way to incentivize people is to tie a part of their bonus (50%) to a customer success metric
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been the most effective for me — increased NPS from 12 to 65 in 18 months as a result
  • Start measuring your NPS using Drift
  • Set quarterly goals for your leadership team to increase your NPS from X to Y
  • Attribute 25%-50% of your leadership team’s compensation to a customer success metric such as NPS

Focus On Market Opportunity, Not Competitors

  • Don’t react or change your strategy based on a knee-jerk reaction to something a competitor does
  • If you focus on making your customers happier over time, the rest will take care of itself
  • Lead by example — obsess over your customers and teach your team to do the same

Listen To Your Gut When It Comes To Hiring

  • If your gut tells you not to hire someone and you can’t explain why, then don’t hire them
  • Back channel reference one of their previous bosses, peers and direct reports to get a real understanding of their character
  • Take them to dinner with their partner and see how they communicate with each other

You Can’t Be Everything To Everyone

  • If you have multiple products/services but no “break out hit” then focus on making one excellent in the short term
  • Figure out which of your products/services will help your customers the most and go “all in” on that at first
  • Determine which customer segment your product/service is best suited for and focus your marketing to appeal to them

If you want to experience rapid growth in your business, build an enduring legacy and become the absolute best version of yourself, then you should check out my private mentoring group for founders. Click here to learn more.

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