Not many founders realize that traction can be manufactured and managed and planned and delivered. You’re only as good as the number of people using and, more importantly, paying for what you built.
What if I asked how you plan on growing by 37 times this year? You’d think I’m crazy and tell me to screw off. What if instead I asked how you plan on growing 1 percent a day? Does that sound reasonable? Well, good news: They’re actually the same thing. Mind-blowing, right?
Here are seven things you should be doing:
1. Dude, start charging already. If you don’t charge your users, you’ll never know how much the product you’re working on is really worth. At the end of the day, cash is the best proxy for value.
This is already a step that makes lots of first-time founders uncomfortable. They tend to postpone it until they don’t have any more room to test and play to optimize things. Don’t be that type of founder, at least if you plan on being alive 12 to 18 months from now.
2. Identify your key metrics. Choose no more than one to four key metrics. They’ll become your goals. Expect things to not work. That’s perfectly fine. It's better to track bad numbers instead of not tracking at all. Consider that each metric will require at least one month (if not two to three) of fine tuning. After, you’ll need to check the numbers and see if they improved.
3. Don’t solve problems you don’t have. Seriously, don’t. This is a trap that every founder eventually falls into. You go down the rabbit hole because you know what the market needs even if no one is asking for it. I’ve been there. It’s a nice place where you don’t have to face the fact that no one gives a crap for that little thing you did with so much pride.
4. Look at the data. If you don’t have data, get data. You can’t improve what you’re not measuring, right? Remember that numbers always tell a story -- the story of how your users are not engaged enough, or of how your onboarding process is not efficient enough. Your users are the heroes of the story, you’re the one with the power to decide if they (and you) get to live happily ever after.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. The biggest constraint in an early-stage company is not money, it's time. Speed is what defines you. If you only have a hunch that there could be a better or faster way, do yourself a favor and ask someone with experience for help.
6. Speak to your customers. They’re the ones paying you. The value you’ll get is huge. Answering users’ tickets is necessary, but that’s just a reactive approach. Instead, surprise them, mix that with a proactive approach, and reach out to your customers just to ask if you can help in any way. They’ll be impressed by the fact that you actually took time to do it and you’ll have an instant advocate.
7. Constantly adapt to the situation. Let me reiterate once again: talking with your users is important because it works. Selling means first of all building a relationship, that’s always been true and it’s even truer now. People want to know you and want to buy from someone whose values they can relate to. How this happens changes over time, and of course you should be flexible.
If you're now growing 10 percent month over month, congrats. You eliminated a couple friction points, improved the product and optimized key metrics. But startups are all about speed, right?
So your next question is, what do I need to do three to six months from now to continue growing at this same rate? Then how do I grow at a greater rate? Just rinse and repeat again and again.