Until a startup achieves product/market fit, has a repeatable customer acquisition process, and enters scaling mode, it’s important to be as scrappy and cost effective as possible. Every dollar wasted is another dollar of dilution and a dollar closer to not having enough runway to figure out how to make things work (see Figure Out How to Stay in the Game Long Enough to Win). Once the business is scaling and is focused on maximizing growth, it’s important to slowly let go of some (not all!) of the scrappiness.
Entrepreneurs that have bootstrapped the business have an especially hard time letting go of some of the scrappiness as the business starts scaling. With so few resources to begin with, there’s no choice but to make every dollar count, such that scrappiness is deeply ingrained within all the team members. Only, as more and more market opportunity is presented, the tendency is to continue using the same approach when it’s better to ease up a bit and try new things to grow faster.
As an example, at Pardot we were having a hard time finding software engineers. We had always stayed away from using recruiters because we wanted to save money and figured that we’d eventually find great team members. After not having luck for several months we decided to hire recruiters (see Working with Recruiters in Startups) and offer a $10,000 referral bounty to anyone that sent a new hire our way (the bounty was for anyone, not just employees). By investing in ways to broaden our search for talent, we were able to bring on more engineers and grow the business faster. It was the right move to let go of some of our scrappiness.
What else? What are some other examples of slowly letting go of some scrappiness to grow faster?
3 thoughts on “Slowly Letting Go of Some Scrappiness”
Once you have found a scalable market niche, forecastable and predictable revenue streams, then it is time to scale and become focused on growth and building a world class company versus being a starved startup that can’t scale. This can be done through building formal and scalable systems and infrastructure around accounting/finance, HR, sales, tech, client service, and executive duties/focus. The business needs to be able to scale and quickly move beyond the controlling/ frightened infant entrepreneur. This is a common trap that many entrepreneurs can’t get out of, mostly getting out of their own way/ small minded entrepreneurism. Put some high octane in the tank, hit the gas peddle and try to break out of the rookie leagues to at least amateur status and then hopefully go pro and be a real thriving, growth and highly valued and sought after company by employees, clients and industry leaders.
And, I think recruiters are valuable beyond recruiting as they spread the word about growth and excitement in what you are doing. They can help in not only hiring but in creating buzz and momentum!
I don’t have any real world examples of scrapiness that I have let go of as of yet because I am still in the bootstrapping stage of my process. To me it seems like at some point you have to realize that you have made it past the point of no return, and I feel letting go of the scrapiness is apart of that. You cannot expect to think big and produce big if you never feel like you can spend big (at some point). Letting go of the scrapiness to me feels like accepting your early success and knowing that you must move your business forward in a different light in order to get different results and maintain your business at a steady pace. Good post, hopefully it generates some good comments so I can benefit from this topic.