OK I know that sometimes things are obvious, but they can be really hard to remember. When you are starting up a business – regardless if it is a tech startup or a new agency – there is a huge temptation to spend big to attract a big audience right away. That is a surefire way to waste time & money – you just aren’t ready for scale. Remember – scale happens one customer at a time.

You need to learn from interacting with your customers Рearlier, I spoke about how to create your ideal customer profile from your circle of influence sales and this is an extension of that thought Рyou need to get into the feedback loop of learning who your customers understand you to be before you jump in on a big marketing spend. You have to be patient Рeven when it is hard Рbuilding a business takes years. If you need help through the rifle shot phase, check out #TripleThis for Startups & Entrepreneurs Рwe can work together to learn from those rifle shots.


Hey gang, it’s Tim. Today I wanted to talk about doing things that don’t scale. Scale for startups and emerging businesses, startup agencies, whatever kind of business you’re trying to grow, scale happens one customer at a time. Paul Graham from Y Combinator, the accelerator, has an idea that you do things that don’t scale when you’re first starting out. And I couldn’t agree more. Because scale really does come from knowledge, and knowledge comes from customer interaction.

If you’re a startup or an agency, you’re probably very worried about how you’re going to get to scale. And I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and startups that are focused on doing things to attract the massive audience right away. And without enough customer data, without understanding what your value proposition is, understanding what the customer responds to, you’re inevitably going to waste a lot of time and, more importantly, a lot of money on trying to do things that scale immediately.

When you’re first starting out, what I really want you to focus on is, once you have filled up your roster with your circle of influence customers, those customers that do business because they know you or trust you already. As you’re trying to acquire new customers, make these all rifle shots. Really take one customer at a time, create a unique value proposition for them and send it out to the world. It may not come back to you right now. But you will learn, after doing this time and time again, by doing a single rifle shot time, and time, and time again, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. And once you have that model, you can actually then go grab your ideal customer and start to scale. But you cannot create your ideal customer, you cannot create scale until you understand your business’s relationship with your potential customer.

So you need to do things that don’t necessarily drive immediate return on investment. You need to be able to do things that potentially drive return on investment. So content that you create that is not necessarily salesy. Presentations that you give in public that are not necessarily going to drive a customer to sign up right then. What you’re really trying to do is put things out into the world so that your customers, those customers with whom your message resonates, can find you. And that’s what we’re really focused on. Before you get to scale, you’ve got to build it one customer at a time. Rifle shots come before scale.

Learn who your customer is, then you can attack that cohort. But, it’s really important, as you’re trying to build your business to remember that every customer you get is potentially your ideal customer. But you have to work with them to understand that first. Good luck and I’ll see you next week.