Posted on 3/19/2023, 4:38:55 PM
In the world of startups and entrepreneurship, there is a common mantra: "Do things that don't scale." This phrase was popularized by Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, who wrote an essay about the importance of doing things that don't scale in the early stages of a startup. But what does it mean to do things that don't scale, and why is it so important?
At its core, doing things that don't scale means prioritizing personalized, human interactions over automated or scalable solutions. It means putting in the time and effort to build relationships with customers, users, and partners, rather than relying on impersonal, one-size-fits-all approaches. Doing things that don't scale can be time-consuming, resource-intensive, and difficult to replicate, but it can also be the key to building a loyal customer base, creating a strong brand, and ultimately scaling your business in the long run.
So what are some examples of doing things that don't scale? Here are a few:
Personalized customer service: Instead of relying on automated chatbots or pre-written responses, take the time to respond to each customer inquiry or complaint individually. This could mean hiring dedicated customer support staff or simply taking the time to personally respond to emails and social media messages.
Hosting in-person events: While online events and webinars can be a great way to reach a large audience, there is something special about hosting in-person events. Whether it's a launch party, a product demo, or a meet-and-greet with customers, hosting events allows you to connect with people on a more personal level and build relationships that can last for years.
Handwritten notes or gifts: In a world where most communication is digital, a handwritten note or thoughtful gift can go a long way in making someone feel appreciated. Whether it's a thank-you note to a customer or a gift to a valued partner, these personal touches can help build strong relationships and create a memorable experience.
Conducting user research: While data and analytics can provide valuable insights into user behavior, there is no substitute for talking directly to your users. Conducting user research through surveys, interviews, or focus groups can help you understand their needs, pain points, and motivations, and tailor your product or service accordingly.
While doing things that don't scale can be challenging, there are a few key benefits to this approach:
Building strong relationships: By prioritizing personalized interactions and taking the time to build relationships with customers, users, and partners, you can create a loyal fan base that will stick with you through thick and thin.
Creating a unique brand: By doing things that don't scale, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and create a unique brand that stands out in a crowded marketplace.
Learning and adapting quickly: By staying close to your customers and users, you can quickly learn about any issues or challenges they are facing and adapt your product or service to meet their needs.
Attracting early adopters: By creating a personalized, human-centric experience, you can attract early adopters who are willing to take a chance on your product or service and help spread the word.
In conclusion, doing things that don't scale is all about prioritizing personalized, human interactions over scalable solutions. While it can be challenging and time-consuming, it can also be the key to building strong relationships, creating a unique brand, and ultimately scaling your business in the long run. So the next time you're faced with a choice between a scalable solution and a more personalized approach, remember the mantra: "Do things that don't scale."
If you need startup advice and want to speak with a business mentor, book a call with leading entrepreneurs at mentordial.com.
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