How to Scale Your Startup: A Leader’s Guide To Crawl, Walk, Run

Keep Your Startup Simple and Solvent

Joe Procopio

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Every entrepreneur has big dreams of massive scale. We all want to create the game-changing, industry-disrupting product that’s going to etch our company name on a plaque in the Product Hall of Fame.

I know. There is no Product Hall Of Fame. There should be.

But you get my drift. None of us set out to create something slightly better than what’s already out there.

Here’s the problem. Most of those big scale dreams are never realized. Success is hard to come by, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight.

Here’s how scale fails: The truth is, most of those dreams die for one of two reasons:

  1. The product falls over as it scales. Production, performance, or delivery fail at high levels of demand.
  2. The product is built for a scale it never achieves. In other words, production is too costly to sustain at low levels of demand (like most mobile services), or value only exists at a high levels of demand (like a social network or a digital marketplace).

Here’s the solution: No one starts marathon training by trying to run 26.2 miles on the first day. You have to crawl before you walk before you run your company at scale speed.

Here’s how.

Crawl Is About Viability

When I think about the crawl phase, the mantras I like to stick to are:

  • Minimum technology
  • Minimum automation
  • Maximum profitability

I want to reduce technology and automation because technology and automation are always expensive, especially at first.

So I don’t write code when no-code or low-code will do. I don’t construct elaborate metrics reporting when the results won’t yet be statistically significant enough to build a model to make decisions. I don’t invest in flow management when Zapier and email will suffice.

I want to maximize profitability because I know that as customer volume increases, my margins will take a hit as that volume produces more unexpected outliers — customer…

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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