Picking something to grow with

Whenever I find myself procrastinating, I try to reflect.

I've noticed that the majority of the time, I'm procrastinating because I feel a sense of overwhelm and if I dig deep enough, it often stems from a lack of a clear path forward. It's funny, though -- having a clear path forward when building a startup seems like a sentence full of oxymorons. If there were a clear path forward, someone would have already built it or done what I'm about to do. 

In growth, there are well-defined distribution strategies that can work for a business, but that assumes you know which channel to start with and which one is going to be most effective. As I experiment with growth channels, the overwhelm begins when I consider the question: what makes a channel successful? Is it click-through, page views, conversion rate, or retention? With today's analytics tooling, there's an infinite number of things you can capture.

To beat the overwhelm, you need to pick a single thing to grow with.

For example: if you're trying to grow the number of users, you might set a 10% growth percentage weekly. That's it. Now go do it. If you hit it each week - fantastic! If you don't, ask yourself why.

I've found this simple target cuts right through the overwhelming nature of startup growth. It's a forcing function to execute rather than over-strategize.

If you're a b2c product like shopdeft.com:

  • If you need to get 10% growth and you only have 10 users - you'll message a few friends to try your product

  • If you need to get 10% growth and you have 1,000 users - you'll create some SEO focused articles and expand your social media presence.

  • If you need to get to 10% growth and have 100,000 users, you'll do product-led marketing and create viral content. In addition, the things you did at the 1,000-user mark should continue to pay dividends.

So, how do you pick the thing you will grow with? At a minimum, it should be impactful for your business. For a B2B product, what will move the needle more: the total number of sales leads or the number of signed contracts this week? In the early stages, it's often the metric you're avoiding and the one that feels most difficult. Run towards that feeling. 

Coming up with KPIs, goals, and dashboards feels great, but at the earliest stages of startup growth, 0 multiplied by 0 is still 0.