Anytime a company makes the transition from the startup phase to the expansion stage, there are going to be growing pains.
The simple truth is that as companies expand, they naturally become more complex and begin to face an entirely new set of problems. And that reality is something Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of SEOmoz, is very familiar with.
Jason M. Lemkin, CEO and co-founder of EchoSign, shares his advice for overcoming the challenges your company will face during the most difficult stage of SaaS growth — going from initial traction to achieving scale.
The hardest phase of SaaS, at least for the founders, is the phase from initial traction ($1 – $2 million in annual recurring revenue, plus 100% year over year growth, plus 50% of new customers from zero-cost marketing) to the next phase — initial scale.
Moving from startup to expansion stage is both a triumph and a trial for any company. Rand Fishkin, co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz, outlines the path for transitioning from break-neck development to a focus on scaling your products and services.
Rand Fishkin started SEOmoz in 2004, and, aside from a small round of Series A funding in 2007, the software company survived and grew without substantial investment until 2012. SEOmoz’s 2012 round injected $18 million into the company coffers and was, as Fishkin recently described in a conversation with OpenView, “a huge accomplishment” for his company after four years on the investment roadshow.
WP Engine and SmartBear founder Jason Cohen discusses the bare necessities of software success: intuition, testing, validation, and iteration — all based on frequent interaction with your users.
It’s the classic startup tale: a company is founded on one idea, and then pivots dramatically after market feedback. SmartBear Software founder Jason Cohen describes his company’s shift once early adopters saw the true potential of his product and led SmartBear to the honeypot (achieving product market fit).
The breathless mentality that fuels startups is ideal for a company’s early days, but it doesn’t age well. SEOmoz co-founder and CEO Rand Fishkin explains that as companies mature into the growth stage, that fast-paced approach can sometimes do more harm than good.
A Better Motto for Scalable Company Growth
As your company grows, so should your approach to leading it. In a recent interview with OpenView, Fishkin explained that changing his mindset around speed was the first major shift he had to make.
Is it possible to maintain a thriving culture of innovation even after you make the move from the startup stage into growth? Silicon valley legend Steve Blank offers his advice in Part II of our interview.
We were lucky enough to sit down with serial entrepreneur-turned-educator Steve Blank recently to get his take on an incredibly interesting — and important — question: Is it possible for a company to keep its innovative edge once it’s no longer a startup? In Part I of our discussion, Blank explained what makes it so often difficult for companies to maintain a culture of innovation as they begin to scale and move into the expansion stage.
Now in Part II of our interview, he dives into the keys to achieving “continuous innovation,” and why the concept is so critical to the future of corporate development and entrepreneurship.
Whether bootstrapping your way to hiring help, or navigating toward profitability under investors’ eyes, an entrepreneur’s path is often a long and lonely one. Dino Dogan, founder of blog amplification platform Triberr, talks about the lessons he’s learned firsthand while carving out a new space in social media for his company.
The story behind Triberr will sound familiar to many entrepreneurs: founder Dino Dogan saw a common problem without an easy solution. “I was doing SEO for a long time,” he says, but optimizing content “didn’t work for what I was trying to do.” Dogan wanted to build a community around his blog to include more than immediate friends who would comment on and share his posts, but that required “a lot of heavy lifting.”
Enter Triberr. Dogan’s social network “allows you to set up a blogging tribe” of like-minded writers who share each other’s work in a “streamlined, frictionless, no-heavy-lifting kind of way.” He recently spoke with OpenView to share how he’s learning from criticism, educating customers, and bootstrapping “a Facebook for bloggers.”
Don’t bother trying to be all things to all people. Instead, nail your niche for your go to market strategy.
You’re not going to walk down the street and see too many t-shirts that say “Go Small or Go Home.” While that exact notion seems to fly in the face of our competitive nature, it’s the perfect bit of advice for entrepreneurs, according to Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits, co-authors of the New York Times bestseller, The Lean Entrepreneur. In fact, keeping your business tightly focused on one niche is the best go to market strategy.
If you’re starting a company with an end game in mind, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice focusing on becoming a target for acquisition.
More often than not, a startup is founded with dreams of eventually becoming acquired. It’s a natural thought — most entrepreneurs fall asleep dreaming of a big payday. But according to Rod Favaron, President and CEO of enterprise social media software company Spredfast (an OpenView portfolio company), setting out specifically to make yourself a target for acquisition not only has a tendency of not leading to that result — it can also be a critical mistake.
Don’t even think about seeking out new target markets until you fulfill your promise to your early adopters.
While you’ll no doubt eventually be looking to move into new target markets, the key to finding them successfully is pleasing your early adopters. Those customers who initially bought into your idea can become your greatest asset, according to Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits, co-authors of The Lean Entrepreneur.