Managing Growth Exercise at September 2019 Bootstrapper Breakfasts

We are using Derek Sivers’ book “Anything You Want” as a inspiration for 3×5 card exercises about managing growth at the September 2019 Breakfasts in Silicon Valley. We ran this program last year at this time and it was very well received. We will also have our regular roundtable discussion.

Handout for Managing Growth Exercise at September 2019 Bootstrapper Breakfasts in Silicon Valley

Determine where you are in the evolution of your startup and then answer the key question to manage growth:

Stage Description and Key Growth Questions Suggested Readings in
Anything You Want
Early Customers ICON Early Customer stage is where you develop your first customers. First sales are generally to friends who know and trust you. These customers can act as a reference for future customers.

Key Growth Questions: What are your goals for the business ? What are one or two critical numbers you will use to measure success?

Finding Your Niche Stage The next stage, Find Your Niche, is where you find are core set of customers and establish your first niche. These core customers reference each other’s buy decisions and act as useful references for additional customers.

Key Growth Questions: What are some specific criteria that determine who you will serve and who you will exclude?

Scaling Up Stage In the Scaling Up stage you grow a sustainable business by growing your core customer base and expanding into new niches. Cash flow has become more stable and predictable. You need to expand from a small team of generalists to a collection of specialists.

Key Growth Questions:

  • People: What are key tasks or roles that the founders need to delegate?
  • Systems: What process and procedures do you need in place to prepare to manage at double your current scale?
Scaling Up: People

Scaling Up: Systems

Worksheet © SKMurphy, Inc for use at Bootstrapper Breakfasts
(contact Sean Murphy / 408-252-9676)

Anything You Want by Derek SiversAnything You Want by Derek Sivers
Recommended for Bootstrappers

“Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.”
Derek Sivers in “Anything You Want

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is not persistence, it’s insanity. Not every change is an improvement, and not every invention becomes an accepted innovation, but if you don’t keep tinkering with your approach you will definitely fail. It’s only an experiment if it can falsify an hypothesis you had about your business or customer needs.

“For an idea to get big it has to be useful and being useful does not need funding. Start now with a humble prototype of your big vision and you will be in the game.”
Derek Sivers in “Anything You Want

One key tactic for managing growth: force your self to start small! This leads to survivable failures that not only cost less but occur more quickly. You learn faster and refine your vision more rapidly.

“Make every decision–whether to expand the business, raise money, promote someone–according to what’s best for your customers.”
Derek Sivers in “Anything You Want

This is a core concept for both lean and entrepreneurial thinking: am I adding something to my product or the supporting services that creates more value for my customers? This gets harder as you start to scale or you start to fail. As you scale more of your employees have less front line contact with customers–unless you invest a lot of effort in avoiding this–and have less of a feel for what they value. When you are starting to fail you may have to choose to abandon a product or a line of business to protect your ability to focus on opportunities.

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