I talked to 3 technical founders this week who had the same problem. In Ukraine, India, and Phoenix.
These are serious coders who have built real $1M ARR software businesses with their teams. But each of the startups stopped growing.
They are stuck. And they know it.
What got them here won’t get them there–to the next level of growth.
Here’s what got them up and running and then got them stuck:
1) See a need and start coding a full solution, since they can create software quickly and cheaply.
2) Find ways to get several early customers who want to buy your full-featured app.
3) Keep adding more features to make the app more complete.
4) Keep creatively finding a few more paying customers. Some through their networks. Others through SEO. No two customers look the same.
5) Add more coders and more tactical marketers. More features! More integrations! More leads! More $$.
6) Realize you don’t have a scalable customer acquisition engine. Also realize that adding more features and code won’t solve the revenue growth problem.
This is partly a “build it and they will come” approach that is common with technical founders.
Sometimes this actually works, but only when you have a clear focus of whom you are specifically targeting.
Being “more of everything for everybody ” in your software space doesn’t work after you run out of the few friends and random prospects you sold to when you started.
With all three of these founders, I suggested adding more features, “emailing harder,” and adding BDRs to pummel random companies with outbound inquiries. Spend more money. That should work, right? 🙂
All three said the same thing. “I’ve tried that and I get it now. The problem is deeper than that.”
So what’s the real answer that will solve their deeper growth problem?
It’s not more of everything. More of everybody.
The answer is finding the right focus with either their product or their target customer.
The right focus is where acceleration and leverage come from.
Doubling down on a small segment where you can win easier.
Doubling down on a feature and key benefit that will stand out so you can win easier.
Focusing on either product or market is good. Focusing both is better.
Saying NO (over time) to the things that are not where the focus is getting you the most traction.
Stop doing “everything for everyone” this week.
Focus was the “F word” when they started. They could barely say the word out loud!
But now they see it clearly.
Focus sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s their new challenge to figure out.
Find their focus inside what they are doing now where they can win easier and scale faster.
It’s always figureoutable, and it always works, but it’s not easy or obvious.