The “Don’t Know All Your Customers” Milestone

Last week I was talking to a well regarded local entrepreneur who’s on his second venture. Near the beginning of the conversation, as we were talking about sales traction with his business, he said, “For the first three years I knew every customer, company name, and user at the company. Now we’re growing so fast, I don’t know all the customers anymore.” He’d reached the “don’t know all your customers” milestone in the business lifecycle.

A key takeaway from the statement was just how close the entrepreneur was to his customers to know every single one, and that is over 200, for the first three years of the business. Being close to the customer is a significant business advantage that startups have over larger companies, and as the business scales it becomes much more difficult, which is why hiring the right people is so critical.

My recommendation is to stay close the customer as long as you can and recognize the milestone that occurs when you no longer know every customer. It’s a bittersweet but significant milestone.

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