So you have a product. And you want it to grow and scale. Maybe its a great one. If all goes well with your launch, it will soon become a business. Now, here are three vital questions you need to ask yourself:
- How will growth occur?
- How will you scale up?
- How will it become a brand?
Grow and scale
Growth and scale are two of the most important factors in entrepreneurship. And both are the main subject in part two of my personal take on entrepreneurship. Oops, if you are feeling lost, that’s because you haven’t read part one. Check it out here.
OK, it’s time to connect the dots. And this is mostly done through decisions.
Decisions are progress
As a rule, you should not postpone deciding upon something. Progress is rarely made by saying “I’ll decide later”, but it can be by made saying “I finished this objective today”. Procrastination is more than just the thief of time in the startup world. Waiting for a better solution to come later, is often where many fall by the wayside.
So, why do ideas have to mature while decisions don’t? Because there’s a fundamental difference.
“An idea is the beginning of a thought process. The decision is how a thought process concludes, over an idea. It is what occurs just before we act.”
So far, so good. Time to grow.
How do you grow?
To start with, try to only keep the target audience that needs you most. Starting sparingly will help you manage overheads, successfully.
As long as you’re relatively unknown, keep tinkering with your hypotheses. This will make for less frustration. Fewer customers means less explaining to do when things go wrong (and believe me, they will).
Use innovation accounting
What is it? It’s a measurement system. It uses actionable metrics to assess how quickly we learn, being the main criterion for progress, towards our business goals.
With such a continuous evaluation of your value hypothesis and growth hypothesis, you’ll be able to measure exactly what’s happening, while you’re “pivoting” through it all.
And of course, pivots will help you save time. Mostly, time spent on unnecessary actions.
With this weapon in hand, expand your runway and start looking for investors who believe in your value hypothesis.
Underdo your competition
Do less than your competition does. You may end up with a smaller and simpler product, but you can validate every assumption. This saves time that would otherwise be lost. The advantages of a more minimal product are obvious:
- It’s inherently simpler
- It’s definitely lighter
- It’s obviously cheaper
- It requires less maintenance
Disadvantages? In general, there aren’t any of significant importance.
“Hmm, but what if they steal my idea?” I hear you say.
Don’t worry. This can’t happen. At least not without a solid method of execution. Think of a product manager receiving new emails daily, with new ideas from would-be millionaires. All of these ideas go unnoticed, because the product manager is simply too busy to study them. Besides, we already know that very few people know how to implement ideas effectively.
And so growth occurs. But there’s one more secret.
Go the Lean Way
As long as you do less than your competition, you have the opportunity to build a good clientele base, following Lean methodology.
“But how? My product is not completely ready yet!”, you’ll say.
There is no such thing, in what’s called the Build-Measure-Learn model. By setting small goals and measuring the result of your efforts, you’ll get the learnings you need to make necessary tweaks and improvements, piece by piece and day by day.
When time comes to distribute the product, you’ll already have a standard clientele. And the best part? This methodology can be applied at every single stage.
Right then! But, we’re talking about grow and scale. So, how can you scale up?
How do you scale?
An effective (and preferred) method, as we all know, is marketing. But it doesn’t come without a few difficulties, such as:
- It’s expensive
- It can take a lot of time
- Results are often linear – i.e. a successful business relationship with one customer at a time
How do we overcome these difficulties?
Simply put, create a brand for yourself! Start by using word of mouth, which causes exponential progress. A single customer can potentially reel in many more, starting even with family and friends. Each customer, essentially acts as a marketer for our product, free of charge.
This this is a great way to help you grow faster, because:
- it costs next to nothing, and
- it (usually) happens virtually in no time.
This kind of exponential growth, is what we could all safely call scale.
So that’s how you can help your product grow and scale.
The brand of course. We touched on it only slightly, here, but in the next installment, in this four-part series, we’ll discuss how you can build your own brand and how to use it, to make yourself well known to both your existing customers and potential customers.
Watch this space for part three…