Every startup wants to scale. It wants higher valuations, wider operations, and a larger workforce.
To achieve this, often than not, here’s how the story unfolds.
Founders put together a team that spends months (or years) working on a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Alongside, they scout for investment, which isn’t tough if they’re asking a million plus instead of $100,000.
Once the startup launches its MVP (often on a more ambitious scale than originally planned), it focuses all its energy on securing more funding and ramping up operations. The mission is clear — grow at all costs.
This is an amazing time for all stakeholders. Tech journalists call the startup the next unicorn, investors line up at the door and valuations skyrocket.
But this grow-at-all-costs strategy comes at a huge cost. As customers increase, so do fires which founders spend most of their time dousing. Over time, customer complaints get louder and revenue dries up. Vulture capitalists get restless and oust founders from the company they built. Consultants are brought on board. But the startup is already so large that a shift in culture is like steering the Titanic around the iceberg.
Eventually, the startup shuts down or lives on an artificial respirator. It resembles a pale version of what it originally set out to achieve.
What Startups Ignore While Scaling Fast
In ambitious early growth stages, startups ignore the most crucial aspect — the customer.
Growth at the expense of a customer is not growth, it’s debt. — Dharmesh Shah
A business is a marathon, not a sprint unless you’re in it for the big exit-payday. (Spoiler alert: it such a day rarely comes.)
That’s why the most important part of your business during the early stages is not sales or customer acquisition. it’s to ensure that your product consistently delivers on its promise.
How does your software deliver on its promise of increasing customer revenue?
How does your consulting firm deliver on its promise of helping clients scale up?
How does your fitness app deliver on its promise of making users fit?
How do your tech products deliver on their promise of making customers feel cool?
Every successful “unicorn” that burst on to the scene has worked for over a decade behind the scenes, growing in a sustainable manner by fulfilling its promises to its customers. It implemented systems and processes that enabled 5-star delivery, then hired good people who helped it refine those processes, taught it to others, and monitored their work.
Such unicorns took time to build momentum, but when they began to scale, it was rapid and long-lasting.
At Content Sutra, we’re currently following this model. We’re getting our hands dirty with a handful of customers, understanding their key needs and success factors, and refining our business model to fulfill them. Scaling up will come after 5-star delivery has turned into a habit.
When your offering fulfills its promises, you build trust. When customers trust you, they go beyond doing business with you. They invest emotionally in your startup’s growth. They turn into your salespeople, referring their friends who in turn, refer their friends. This builds momentum that turns your startup into an unstoppable force and leaves everyone wondering where you came from.
Instead of customer acquisition, prioritize customer trust. Their trust is far more important than their money.
By following this method, you will grow slowly. But you’ll also grow sustainably. And when your competition bleeds because it bit off more than it could chew, you’ll still be going strong.