How to grow rapidly? By doing non rapid-growth things

This is from a podcast I listened to by Reid Hoffman – founder of LinkedIn – who interviewed Brian Chesky, founder of AirBNB; and the topic was “scaling.”

In order to scale, you need to work on things that don’t scale (say whah?)

Stop thinking big, and start thinking small. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invite 1.8 billion people when he started Facebook. He just invited a few people, created fans out of them, and made it easy and more fun to use when they invited others.

Hand-serve your customers at the highest level before scaling; the growth will be an automatic byproduct. Just like helping your customers should be the main focus, as the monetary rewards will come naturally.

It’s hard to get 10 people to not simply “like” you, but LOVE you. But you can get there by spending time with them, caring about what they say, and crafting the product/service of their dreams – one they are fanatical about.

When you handle everything personally in the beginning, this is when you are most in-tune with your fans; and this is where you are most creative. Only until you master this can you ask for more; but try not to forget that when you grow and can afford to add more people and systems in place that create distances from the customer.

Growth opportunities and doing the math

If it’s the right thing for your company to expand rapidly, consider giving some of your profits away.

This can be engaging a marketing company; hiring a top salesperson or sales organization; accepting money from investors; and whatever is relevant in your industry that fosters growth.

I talk to many business owners who are so focused on costs and percentages in a vacuum, that they lose the context of those numbers, don’t appreciate the ability of strong partners, and lose sight of why they want to grow in the first place. And because of that, their performance hits a ceiling and they set themselves up to either get eaten alive or remain unfulfilled.

Owning 100% of a million-dollar company sounds sexy; but for me – I’d rather own 1% of a billion-dollar company.

Of course – the above is over-simplified and there is much more to making a decision that relates to this. You need to make sure that growth is truly a lifestyle and decision with consequences that you’re prepared for (which is why I wrote “IF it’s the right thing…” in the beginning); you need to properly vet growth partners (they are not created equal, and the cheapest is never usually the best); you need to play out best/average/poor-case scenarios (plan for the best but prepare for the worst); and you need to take inventory of your current resources (is your existing manpower, capital, experience, and team reflective of your 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year goals?).

But don’t be so consumed with how much something costs that your blinders are on to how an investment could return for you. Marrying your spouse COSTS you. Having kids COSTS you. Buying a nicer, more reliable car COSTS you. Going to the gym COSTS you. But they can be exponentially rewarding, and if you only lived life based on what’s safe and how much something costs…it’d be a sad life on at least, 1,031 levels #exaggeration

If you really want to measure costs, compute the loss of opportunity as well. Don’t orphan that super important metric.

Let go of what is, so that you can receive what’s possible. If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.

Real estate & insurance policies

One of my favorite jobs is helping franchisees look for real estate. It’s one of the three biggest ingredients for a successful store (along with having the right franchise partner and operations team); and arguably the most important since it’s pretty permanent (for 5-10 years at least); it’s a fixed cost that you can’t really change, no matter what you do; and it doubles as your marketing vehicle.

Anyway – I was checking out sites for my 3-unit Cauldron Ice Cream franchisee today, and taught him a few things that might be helpful for you, too:

  • You will pay for bad real estate, but good real estate will pay youDan Rowe, my mentor, legendary franchisee and developer for Five Guys Burgers, The Halal Guys, Qdoba, etc; and CEO of Fransmart.
  • Add part of your marketing budget to your real estate budget. When you are in an area where people easily see and drive/pass by your store every day, you will eventually get potential customers to enter your store and give you a shot. That’s the best type of marketing – being conveniently where the customers are, so that you are pulling instead of pushing. After that, the trick is WOW-ing and keeping them.
  • It’s not just about density around a particular site – it’s about TARGETED density. If there is heavy population but none of them are your type of customers, then you’ve used the wrong data. As it relates to desserts and fast casual concepts – you need a high concentration of residential/day-time populations with high incomes. You will be relevant to them and there will be less price sensitivity or confusion.
  • “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

I call these bullet points “multiple insurance policies” against failure or sub par performance. While I cannot guarantee success or a specific dollar amount of revenue/profit – as there are a lot of forces out of my control – this definitely sets you up for a better chance of winning.

Anyway – hang tight. One of the most delicious, innovative dessert concepts is coming your way. 40K+ Instagram followers can’t be wrong.