There’s a commonly held belief that when you start a business you should build it with scale in mind. In other words, you shouldn’t just chase the income to pay the bills, you should ensure you are building a service offering that enables the business to grow exponentially. Ultimately that means having minimal reliance on restricted resources such as people and working capital.
Whilst this sounds like wise advice, and I agree, I don’t believe it’s the right approach to have from the get go. Must businesses fail in their first 3 years. During this time, very few people know about your brand so the things that you can do in year 10 are not as easy to get traction in year 1. If you can survive the first 3 years doing good work, your brand will have been in the eyes of thousands of people. Some will know of you and some will have experienced working with you. Reputation is everything. People talk about the importance of good brand and marketing but the quality of your delivery beats everything else when it comes to reputation.
Focus on doing good work and earning good money for it in the early years and when the business is stable (you’ll know when that time has arrived because you’ll have stopped worrying about settling bills), re-design your entire strategy. That 2nd strategy (following the start-up strategy) is THE most important strategy in the lifecycle of your business. It’s when you review what’s works well and what’s not worked so well in the ground in those vital early years out in the real world. Unlike your first strategy, you’re not guessing any more. You have real data and real experiences to call upon. You know which people buy from you, what they buy and how much they will pay. You are armed with a wealth of knowledge about what you need to focus on and what you can amplify.
You cannot have this qualified data and experience when you’re setting out in business (unless you’ve already ran a similar business), so to start with scale in mind is simply unrealistic and it can trip you up by taking your attention away from what you need to do to survive.
The start-up years are about chasing the low hanging fruit, delivering great work and speaking to your clients to understand the device from THEIR perspective. Wrote down what they say because this will be used to form your marketing and evolve your service.