Every entrepreneur wants to turn their business into a scalable business. It means creating a great product that serves a lot of people’s needs in the world. Hence, it is very challenging to create a scalable business without building a product that people love. We have to get customer’s preferences in order to grow and to scale.
One of the best practices in creating a product that sparks love from their customer is doing things that aren’t scalable. It may seem contradictory to our goal to create a scalable product by things that aren’t scalable. That is the reason many entrepreneurs cannot see the value and look down on effort that doesn’t scale in building their company. However, things that aren’t scaling often lead to comprehensive understanding of our customers.
Airbnb is an example of a giant company that started with many unscalable experiments in their early days. They stayed in New York and knocked every host’s door to talk and to help the host improve their listing. The Airbnb founders also rented a DSLR camera to help the host to create professional photos for free. Their users were still very small at that time, so they could visit all of their hosts in New York. That is the advantage of doing things that don’t scale in early days; you still have a small group of users to deal with individually.
Starting our company by doing things that aren’t scalable is usually not interesting for some founders. They have a big dream and have a fancy plan in building and releasing their products. However, the reluctance to get their hands dirty by doing things that aren’t scalable often arises because of shyness and laziness. It is easier to create the company by sitting in our office in front of our laptop rather than talking to every customer we have.
On the other side we should see the things that aren’t scalable as the best way to delight and to spark love from our customers in order to win the customer’s preference. In the early days, having 10 customers that love our product a lot is more valuable than having 1000 customers that haven’t loved our product yet. One customer that loves our product could share our story to 10 other prospective customers. This is a powerful channel to build larger group of customers in the future.
Getting our hands dirty by things that aren’t scalable could be an individual service and a special service to our customers. At the time our service makes him delightful then he will spread it out to the others. Stripe co-founder talked and solved customer’s problem by himself even at 2 am in the early morning. It has made a meaningful impression to his customers. Individual service like this is an advantage while being small that a giant company couldn’t do.
It is okay to get our hands dirty by interacting and by knowing our customers directly in our early days. We could use that limitation as a great advantage that could help us to build a strong foundation for our company. By the time we already make several customer’s for love our product, we could onboard more customers easier.
We could start today by picking up our phone and by calling on one of our customers. Talk with him and ask some questions like what one thing that our customer wishes is about our product or like what the one thing that we could do to make him satisfied and to tell everyone they know about our product.