7 Common Strategies My Company Avoided That Helped Us Grow Tenfold in a Year Common wisdom may say these things will take your company to the next level, but this startup founder says otherwise.
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What does it take to grow a company tenfold in a single year?
At AdEspresso, our revenue was a "mere" $500,000 12 months ago. Fast forward a year and we recently hit $5 million.
It is easy to focus on the moves we made to reach this goal. Conversely, it is also important to focus on what we didn't do. It may sound strange, but this was very much the case at AdEspresso.
Here are seven things you think you should do to grow your revenue, but are probably better off avoiding.
1. Go multi-language
This may sound strange, but it worked in our favor over the past 12 months. It is tempting to roll out a version in languages other than English, such as Spanish and French. But just because you are tempted doesn't make it the right decision.
Think about it this way: It is easier to increase your user base from 3,000 to 5,000 English-speaking users than it is to add another language. There are one billion people across the globe that speak English. That makes for a plenty big audience.
2. Take a multi-channel approach
We only focus on Facebook advertising, but that doesn't mean we aren't tempted by the world of Twitter and LinkedIn, among others.
There is a lot that goes into supporting an advertising channel. There is more to taking a multi-channel approach than meets the eye. The last thing you want is to build something that doesn't satisfy the customer. This is a waste of time, money and other resources.
3. Pursue the "upmarket" approach
Here is something we hear on a regular basis: How come you don't go out and target the bigger companies that have more money to spend?
On the surface this makes perfect sense. When you get involved with bigger companies that have a bigger budget, you can earn more money.
But you may be forgetting something: these companies have a longer sales cycle, require a more advanced product and need more attention in terms of customer support. Furthermore, this segment of the market has more competition.
There is nothing wrong with chasing after big clients, as long as you understand the pros and cons of doing so. Focusing solely on the potential benefits, while overlooking the disadvantages, could lead to a not-so-nice surprise down the road.
4. Pay for customer acquisition
It is common for people to believe the only "real" marketing and advertising is "paid" marketing and advertising. There is no denying the benefits of paid acquisition, but just as we noted above, there are drawbacks.
We let our customers find us because of the content we create and the services we offer. This allows us to avoid paid acquisition, which makes it easier to keep pricing competitive.
Our tools and content do the talking for us, attracting new customers and increasing brand visibility. We publish resources that are freely accessible to help customers advertise like a pro. This organic approach has suited us well.
5. Hire more people than needed
Many companies, especially those in the tech space, make the mistake of hiring as quickly as they can find qualified applicants.
All along, they never consider the fact that it takes money to hire and train new employees.
We didn't focus our time on hiring as many workers as we could afford to pay. Instead, we realized the benefits of automating our system to maximize the time of our current staff.
Note that a new hire in the beginning stages of a business will slow you down. Additionally, the larger your company becomes the more difficult it is to keep an open and clear line of communication.
6. Add to the product
Neglected may be a bit harsh, but it holds true to a certain degree.
Once you have some initial traction, it is tempting to implement as many features as you can think up. This is particularly true if your customers are asking for something in particular.
We never lost track of what led to our initial success. We stuck with our roots on simplicity and design, which has carried us through, day after day, without the need to add too many features along the way.
7. Sell the company
In today's tech world, there are always big companies looking to acquire startups. When we became Facebook preferred marketing developers, it wasn't long before we were inundated with "strategic partnership" inquiries.
Once you hit initial traction and your market share picks up, you will have opportunities to sell. For companies that raised no (or a small amount) of money, it is easy to take hold of the dream and agree to a sale.
Here is the question you need to answer: If you stick with your current plan, will your revenue continue to grow? If so, you will be selling yourself short (no pun intended) by agreeing to an acquisition.
As a company founder, it is only natural to look for the next big thing. This mindset can make it difficult to stick with a plan that is working.
When you find something that works, it is easier to focus more time and effort on that idea than it is to look for something else. With the seven points above, you can continue to grow by developing a counter-intuitive mindset.