When to Narrow Your Focus to Accelerate Growth in Your SaaS Startup

Most of my conversations with startup and early-stage software founders this week weren’t about funding or bootstrapping.

They were about how and when to FOCUS to accelerate traction and growth.

Focus is usually the F-word for early-stage founders who are just getting their first customers and selling to anyone who will buy. Focus sounds crazy to them at first.

That makes sense. Startups are experiments and you have to try a bunch of things to see what works MUCH better than other things.

But after you have run enough experiments and you see what’s working or not, it’s time to start leaning toward the stuff that works.

  • Just the customers who love your solution, not the ones who don’t
  • Just the important product features that make customers buy and stay
  • Just the customer acquisition approaches that work right now

Eventually, you stop doing the things that don’t great enough results. You say No or scare them away with your price.

When you are just starting, the key is staying alive long enough to run enough experiments to see what works. And what doesn’t.

Say Yes and give it a try. But know that you are just looking for the customer type or product position or customer acquisition channel that you can settle in on next–to the eventual exclusion of the other things you could do.

When you are growing up towards $1M ARR, you have run more valid experiments and can see more clearly what focus could scale, if you look hard enough.

If you have 20 or 200 customers by then, you can clearly see that your top 10% of customers are MUCH better than your worst 10% of customers.

Leverage from focus is always there, hidden in plain sight. But few founders do the work soon enough to head in one direction fast with more focus.

Another name for focus is product-market fit: Our product JUST serves these customers and we JUST do this thing for them that’s amazing.

The right focus is a force multiplier, but only always.

The trick is what exactly should you just focus on and what should you stop doing. You have to get on the field and run experiments with real customers, products, and investments.

It helps to ask, “How could we focus to make it 10x easier and faster for us to sell our next 10 or 100 great customers?”

Stop thinking about someday selling everything to everybody.

Think about being known
as the best
at something important
to someone specific.

Then scale that.

Where are you in your focus journey?

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