Brian is the founding Partner of WeSaaS.co and it is scaling up. He is 30 something, lives in Montreal and his totally fictive (in case that question was starting to arise in the back of your mind).
His startup is starting to get some real traction – yeah! It’s not really a startup anymore though. The business model is figured out and a steady stream of revenue is coming in.
So Brian, who worked in a startup mindset for a few years now, is confronted by a whole new set of problems. Scaleup challenges.
Long gone are the exciting times of building that perfect product-market fit, experimenting the hell out of everything and pivoting just for the sake pivoting.
Somehow, things worked out and Brian and his co-founders (still fictive, yes) now have a, well let’s call it is what it is, a real business.
Damn! What’s that around the corner? Is that the sound of investors expecting a return of their investment? It sure is! So time to grow up (play on word here) and scale up. Fast, cause you don’t want to be a bloated unicorn neither.
Automating your Customer Lifecycle
A whole new set of challenges rises when you’re scaling up, that are entirely different than for startups. Whereas startups acted more as artisans building that perfect product, scaleups now need to focus on building a business around that product.
That means that besides trading those stinking t-shirts for something a bit more fashionable, you actually have to think about how to remove yourself from the whole growing equation. Cause building a business is about building something that can live while you take vacations (remember those?).
Alright, so you guessed it: automation is the key!
And at the heart of growth is the automation of your customer lifecycle. Why’s that? Glad you asked. Let’s get back to our friend Brian (yes still fictive, but as friendly as any Twitter friends you might have).
So Brian and his co-founders did manage to attract their first few customers, and lo and behold, they fell in love with the WeSaaS.co product (who wouldn’t?) that they sticked around and even told a few friends of theirs about it. Referencing, yeah!
And you know what? They even provide him with feedback. Yeah, they’re that engaged. Mind blown!
So Brian speaks to them constantly through a Slack channel he created. Because he’s cool and so are they. It’s all very cool! They have created that little harmonious community and everybody is happy.
That’s all fine and dandy, but that little community is about to be invaded by swarms of new citizens who are just as excited about the possibilities of that little community. The mayor cannot spend that much time welcoming each and every citizen and making them fuzzy in the inside. He actually needs to take care of some serious sh**, so that this little community doesn’t become Laval (a little joke for my Québec friends).
Alright, so let’s push that little community-to-city narrative a little further, because we’re in control of the narrative here.
Citizens are coming in. They don’t all have the same background as the first few citizens that were here. They have different backgrounds and different expectations. Will mayor Brian speak to all of them and craft is nice little city for all of them?
One word, multiple syllables – UN-SUS-TAIN-A-BLE!
It’s time to put services in place, have a team of city workers who will keep that infrastructure spick and span. You know: scale up.
Back to our WeSaaS.co world now. Brian is a responsible CEO (yup, I just promoted him to CEO – bam!) and knows that skipping happily with every customer is just that: UN-SUS-TAIN-A-BLE! (sorry…)
Although he would love to, Brian knows that doubling his user base every few months would require to deduplicate himself in many clones. And well, after watching Multiplicity (classic) a few times, he’s a bit scared he won’t be able to manage them either.
What to do?
He has read somewhere, in a very profound article written by a french guy with a thick accent, that automating his customer lifecycle is at the heart of scaling up.
Simple right? Content marketing to get them in. A nice landing page to convert. Try the product for a few weeks. Charge them. Rinse and repeat.
Ahhhh, that dreamy unicorn that is the straightforward journey. Bubble bursting moment (well, you already knew about that anyway): not all users go through your funnel the same way. Shocking, ain’t it?
Not so shocking no, but it’s important to understand that the main challenge of scaling up is that you need to figure out who your customers are, their journeys, variations within those journeys and how to improve that whole lifecycle.
Yup, scaling up is about automating your customer lifecycle. And it’s as much a science and art as when you grew up that startup to what it is today.
The Science of Scaling Up
We’ll leave the art aspect of scaling up to you – it’s your baby and only you understand its wants, feelings and dreams (ummm, ok).
But there is a science to scaling up.
(No boom, we promise)
You might have been an avid practitioner of the Lean Startup and Lean Analytics principles when you founded your startup. Good for you! Powerful ideas behind that framework that also enforces some important practices (build – measure – learn anyone?).
You’ve validated your business model through the practice of Lean practices. Hooray! But how does Lean helps you with scaling up? Of course there are engines of growth, but that’s all part of the business model itself. What is growth itself and how will it help you automate your customer lifecycle?
Weeeeel… I’m tired of writing and you’re tired of reading, so we’ll get to that in a later post.