Controlling Pace As A Practical Founder To Get To Real Product-Market Fit

One of the biggest differences between successful practical founders and founders who have raised big funding is not their speed.

It’s their PACE. Practical founders go slower at first.

It makes all the difference later in order to grow steadily and efficiently. To multiply the X in your 10X valuation.

The hundreds of founders I know who have created, grown, and sold their valuable software companies without big funding were speedy and efficient in how they got stuff done every day.

But these practical founders got to product-market fit at a slower PACE.

It always took some time and multiple tries and tweaks to get it right. Really right.

They didn’t rush too fast to meet lofty revenue goals that were required to raise the next round of outside funding.

These practical founders survived and self-sustained their startups long enough to find REAL PRODUCT-MARKET FIT.

With happy customers who tell their friends and stay and pay for a long time. To not sell to bad fit customers.

Real product-market fit always takes patience to get it right.

Most of the time what you think is the right product is only generally right.

You learn a lot by selling and serving and listening and trying over and over. Patiently.

Sometimes it means waiting for your laggard vertical market to be ready for digital change.

This isn’t the FAKE PRODUCT-MARKET FIT that makes the revenue chart go up with overfunding and over-selling just to hit the quarterly growth milestones to raise the next round.

That’s a speed game that most often kills your future growth.

Fake product-market fit doesn’t scale efficiently.

Read that again.

Fake product-market fit requires overfunding and inefficient customer acquisition math. Forever.

Real product-market fit is required to scale efficiently:

  • 25%-50% of new customers coming from referrals from happy existing customers.
  • Reasonable growth goals that don’t require overspending to meet crazy hiring expenses that you can’t sustain.
  • Low churn rates and high upsell rates mean you don’t have a leaky revenue bucket that has to be refilled to get to NET NEW MRR each month.
  • Efficient R&D to build just the fewest features that are actually required to get and keep only the best customers.

Each of those things can be done quickly and efficiently with speed at a tactical level.

But the overall pace of practical growth usually feels slow at first.

I have seen speed kill hundreds of startups. There is just less room for the amount of correction, improvement, pivoting, and detail work that is required to get real product-market fit going.

True, SOME markets in SOME cases are a race to spend the most money to acquire customers and dominate the market. AFTER real PMF is proven.

But that happens less often than funders lead you to believe.

In the early stages, with under $10M revenue:

PACE to real product-market fit and efficient growth is more important than the RACE to overspend to dominate markets.

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