16 Jun My Company’s Growth Is Too Slow, What Should I Do?
“Hi Sasha! I have been following you on LinkedIn and I thought I would put my thoughts here in an email. I founded my startup about two years ago and it has about ten B2B clients and over fifty smaller ones. We do grow, but very slowly, maybe two to four clients per month. In all my calculations, which I also presented to our investors, I assumed that by now we should have thousands of clients and millions in revenue, which is far from being the case. I have to admit, I was overly optimistic when I was originally planning how fast my business would be built and grow. What am I doing wrong here? Thanks, Quinn.”
Here’s another message I received in my inbox: email@example.com. Such a good question. This speaks to me personally as I am also a very impatient person. First of all, two years from day one is not a huge amount of time. Think of your business as a newborn child. A baby requires constant attention and resources to thrive or survive. After six months of age, they are barely crawling. At twelve months they may begin walking, albeit with shaky legs and stumbling. They will talk but it will take another year or two before they start to speak with their “own” voice.
I assume by now you have proof of your original business concept – in the form of customers sticking with you and finding new ones as well. I also figure that your pricing is about right – not too expensive, as this very often is the case with many businesses that are just starting out. So it looks like product and pricing are not the issues in your seemingly slow and unenthusiastic growth.
The main reason most businesses fail is due to their inability to execute a suitable marketing plan, with an awareness component as the foundation for success. It takes time for the general public to react. If no one knows about your business, including your potential customers, how are you going to get to the point of break-even and prosper?
I quite like the fact that Quinn is not blaming others but rather questions himself, “What am I doing wrong here and am I the right person to run this show?” I dare to tell Quinn that the issue is hiding in his current marketing and sales approach. Many new businesses underestimate the effort, financial resources and time they have to put into sales and marketing. This is where one needs to cover many fields simultaneously:
- Build a sales partners network or hire the sales force
- Establish sales support and business account management
- Build online presence, take care of branding, social media, and paid advertising
Particularly in smaller companies, where everyone wears many hats, this role is usually assigned to the CEO or a hired CMO, unless one of the other co-founders possesses extreme sales skills and an undeniable ability to convince large amounts of customers to convert.
From my own experience, if resources are limited, it’s not a good idea to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer for your company at this early stage. You’d rather need someone who is really hands-on in one of the fields listed above, and not just a holistic theorist who knows it all but can’t do it him/herself.
Hire someone who is good at, for instance, social media, but really good, with a proven record of being able to PLACE content with very high engagement parameters (likes, comments, and shares). This is how you multiply your revenues, as the long-term result of more and more people finding out about you and what you do.
It could also be a talented content creator who can rapidly PRODUCE 10 pieces of visually-appealing content daily that you can publish on social networks. Or this newly added person can be your sales partner with whom you work based on a revenue share model, who will OPEN you the right doors to the much-needed customer segment that propels you further in no time. This person or many of them can be your champions who introduce your product as if it was you yourself talking to many people at once locally or online.
Over the years, I forcedly became a big fan of taking small steps. In my opinion, small steps taken towards any goal are smarter than large, bold moves. To be honest, the processes of taking baby steps and waiting around – goes against my nature. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a very impatient person with very limited attention bandwidth.
However, when it comes to marketing and specifically to online marketing, my only advice is to take small, but consistent steps. It really takes time to raise awareness about your business, especially at the start.
A marketing plan is not about how much I should spend on online ads today. Rather, it’s about how many resources I am prepared to invest in overall. Come up with numbers for the course of three years and then divide it by thirty-six months to figure out how much time, effort, and money you ought to spend monthly. This may sound very obvious, but in fact, it really isn’t the case for many business owners. The one thing I’ve noticed is that many have the tendency to put huge amounts of time and money into developing a sales partners network, all at once. Merely for the sake of seeing how it performs and to measure “immediate” results. Sadly, I have seen the recipe fail too many times.
Start small. Do it so consistently. Authentic, organic growth builds a solid foundation for your business to grow on. It’s easy to get distracted with all the advice from influencers and companies with deep pockets telling you how to market. Be firm and stick to your plan. The arrow that flies straight and without any distraction, hits the bullseye faster and goes straight to the heart of the matter.