How Startups Get to the Growth Stage

When To Stop Building and Go Where the Money Is

Joe Procopio

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image by freepik

In the beginning days of any startup, every ounce of effort should be spent building the coolest, slickest, most awesome product ever invented.

But at some point, the gears of progress need to downshift. Those big ideas need to hibernate for a while. Before the growth curve can kick in, your focus must come off of the product, because growth is almost always built on a market story, not a product story.

It can be extremely difficult to shift those gears. So how do you bend your product to market fit without breaking it?

Let’s break it down to five steps.

1. Make the Shift From “How” to “How Many”

The day you first realize that your product delivers an awesome experience — that day might be the best day of your startup journey.

With Automated Insights, it was the day we were able to produce our first run of fantasy football recaps, generated automatically from some old data Yahoo gave us — a million insightful (and hilarious) recaps in about an hour.

With Teaching Startup, it was the first time an entrepreneur said they’d pay ten times what I was asking for a monthly subscription.

But almost immediately after that big day, you need to realize that the path to success now has less to do with how someone succeeds with your product, more to do with how often they succeed with it.

And even more importantly: How many line up to succeed with it.

2. Find and Manage Outlier Use Cases

Not coincidentally, this turning point usually happens when customers start reaching out to your company instead of your company always having to introduce itself and explain your product to them. Potential customers no longer need to be educated, they’re now showing up unannounced with expectations already in place.

Those customer expectations are an excellent example of the phrase: “a great problem to have,” but it’s still a problem. Because in almost every case, these potential customers will want to use your product for almost exactly what it’s intended…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com