The biggest challenge every company faces is achieving and sustaining scale. Start-ups struggle to scale on bootstrapped budgets. Mid-size companies peak and scale often plateaus. Big companies wrestle with inventing opportunities to scale new markets. At any stage, scale is tough. It’s gritty, messy work requiring intense cycles of testing and trying lots of stuff and seeing what sticks. We often hear the heralded stories of the unicorns that make scale sound easy – like magic that happens overnight. For most businesses, scale requires time and patience, something most investors and founders don’t have, along with the skillsets to make scale happen, which many businesses don’t invest in. For a new business, it can take over a year to scale traffic. How do you scale leads if you don’t have traffic? How do you sale traffic if you don’t have inbound? It often feels like a chicken and egg situation and in our day-to-day work with our clients, we describe scale as part art and part science.
Image courtesy of TechCrunch.
Sounds easy right? But, what if you don’t have a Saas model?
What if you don’t sell enterprise software at all?
What if your business doesn’t fit perfectly into the T2D3?
Not every business fits perfectly into the Hubspot, Slack or Salesforce demand-gen machine. And, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. That’s where the art comes in.
The big mistakes I see companies make are:
1- Assuming the customer mindset. You might think you know your customer, but do you really know your customer? Digging deep into their mindset and understanding the problems they are trying to solve and how your products solves them (or not) is the only way to illuminate opportunities for your brand, your product and your strategy.
2- Leading with product & features. Selling bells and whistles instead of selling value. No one is going to buy your technology because of buzzwords and features. They are going to buy it because it solves a problem or creates an opportunity for their business. Get in the value zone, or risk being reduced to a price/feature comparison.
3- Treating go-to-market as one-time event. Go-to-market is a long-term strategy. If you treat it as a one-time thing, you miss a big ongoing opportunity to stay in lock-step with your customers and ahead of your competitors. Always be going-to-market.
4- Inefficiently bootstrapping. Every business starts in bootstrap mode. What makes bootstrapping efficient? The right people doing the right activities at the right time. Are your resources set-up for success? Don’t just hire a junior resource and throw them into the fire. Ensure they have coaching and mentoring to help them be successful and drive better results for the business. Don’t just throw 20 things at the wall at once to see what sticks. Focus on a small number of things and execute them well. Don’t just stumble into your go-to-market. Have a real plan built by a real expert that will connect with your market and deliver results.
5- Failing to build a brand from Day 1. B2B businesses have been slow on the up-take when it comes to building a brand from the start. Founders tend to be product and tech experts so the product and tech takes the lead. What we see over and over again, is that failing to start with brand requires more heavy lifting later. It can often mean pivoting or rebranding, which consumes time and cost. By focusing on building your brand from Day 1, you stay laser focused on your customers and are constantly tweaking and evolving your brand to stay in lock-step.
So, what do you think? Is scaling art or science…or both?