Navigating Growth in Startups: The Pains and Challenges of Scaling

The startup world has taught you that you need to grow. To be successful, you must acquire as many users as possible, have as many paying clients as possible, and have the best technology in the industry.

Even money comes with the obligation to grow. VCs set up growth KPIs where you need this many users by this date. To prove traction. To prove there is something there.

Growth comes with pains

But growth comes with pains. When you grow, your systems get tested. Mistakes happen if you don’t have systems in place, and your growth slows down. Your team gets tested, your team is under constant pressure to deliver, and this takes its toll on their productivity.

But most importantly, nobody told you you are substituting profits for growth. The tests, the hacks, the campaigns, all of that costs money. With growth, you are substituting money right now for potentially more money in the future. 

investing your profits

The desire for growth leads to constant testing and constant trying. What’s going to be the next feature that’s going to unlock the next level of growth? What will be the next marketing hack that will bring in the next thousand users? 

Not seeing the results from these tests brings your morale down, your team’s morale down. You can feel it. They say they are motivated, but you can see they are looking forward to the weekend. And you say you are, but you are thinking: Am I even good enough to do this? I know I am smart enough to do it, but what am I missing?

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The problem with growth is that nobody told you it comes with pain. And the problem with growth is that nobody told you it’s the second phase of building a startup. If you are constantly trying to scale, but can’t, what you are missing are the basics. The systems that will handle the growth, the message, and the positioning that will attract the users will help you make the next sale and will help you attract the next 1000 users.

How I struggled with growth

As a junior marketer, I struggled with growth. At the startup I cofounded, I thought I could growth hack out of positioning problems.

When we couldn’t attract or convert users, we tried every trick in the marketing playbook. We tried ads, we tried forming partnerships with salespeople, we tried to write a book and gave it away as a lead magnet.

Nothing worked.

This was a hard lesson I had to learn. You can’t scale without solid foundations. And the stronger these foundations, the faster and higher your can scale.

Marketing & Sales are amplifiers

Because here is the thing: You are on a mission to create a better world with your product. And you know you need a good product to do it. And then you need good marketing to take care of the rest. 

But marketing and sales are amplifiers. They help you spread your core, your messaging, your positioning, and your vision to the world.

sales and marketing are amplifiers

The problem is we often sail through the foundations. The positioning, the messaging. And only work on marketing and sales. Just last week, I read a post here on LinkedIn saying sales are 90% of building a startup in the beginning. They’re not. 

Unless you have one of those products that just clicks with the audience, they are not. You know, every industry,… take the CBD industry for example. Or the AI industry. In the beginning you have this massive hype, where you don’t even have to sell. At the end of 2022, if you said your startup has makes an AI-powered donkey cart you’d get $2M in investment on the west coast. Today? Much more difficult, isn’t it? AI is the standard, no longer a differentiator, so you have to actually know your shit if you want to get the same amount of money for your product.

When you have the right message, sales are easy.

But when you have the wrong message, your marketing and sales spread the wrong thing. So you can’t attract people. And you only convert the selected few.

Do you really want to scale? Forget Facebook ads for a second and spend time setting up your foundations. Your positioning, your messaging.

I’m here to help you out. Product-market fit checklist – a list of 86 questions to determine your product market fit, follow the link to the free download.

If you need help with repositioning, schedule a call with me.

If you want to DIY your positioning, here are the steps you need to take.

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8 months ago

[…] of these solutions are wrong.In the last newsletter, we learned that marketing & sales are amplifiers. They help you spread your core – Your messaging, your positioning, your vision to the […]

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