Scale vs. Growth

From the Lessons in Vernacular Department

We hear a lot of talk about scale in business. Solve a problem for a small group, figure out how to deliver the same solution to 10-, 100-, 1000X the number of people.

Scale is a grown-up word for big kids with revenue generating things. It’s cold, corporate.

Growth, on the other hand, has a more down-to-earth, organic feel, doesn’t it?

Growth is preparing the soil, planting the seed, tending to a sapling’s needs as it sprouts from the ground, puts down roots, and grows into a productive tree over time.

Growth and scale can mean the same thing—but you don’t have to scale from the start.

Think and dream and visualize your orchard—but focus on growing that first tree.

Big Problem. No BANT. No Problem.

Chase a big problem.

A problem so complex, so big, so hairy, so audacious, Walter Sobchak would be at a loss for words.

“STFU, Brian. You’re out of your… Wait. Really? You’re working on that? Wow.”

No budget. No authority. No need. No time.

But it matters. So you do what you can when and as you can.

Go where nobody else is. Try making a difference.

Suit up. Floor it. And aim for the roses.

Ichimai-iwa.

A difference is the only thing worth making.

Truly.

Yesterday, I wrapped things up with one of my favorite thoughts—business exists to make a difference. Today I’d like to explain what I mean by that.

Our days are filled with marketing messages for what I can only describe as thoughtless, lowest common denominator, derivative crap. The Uber of this. The Twitter of that. Another “new and improved”, “professional grade”, “platinum-premium buzzword” commodity nobody gives a rat’s ass about at the end of the day.

All these products are supposed to make a difference in people’s lives. Maybe they do.

Toothpaste makes a difference. So does toilet paper. So does any cloud-based, data-driven, predictive customer analytics martech offering designed to help you accelerate and scale and grow your sales pipeline. (read: Likely 90% of them.)

You’ve experienced this profit-first mentality. Probably today.

  • If you used a self-checkout kiosk.
  • If you were unable to shop a third ISP.
  • If you spoke to a customer service rep who couldn’t help you.

Business spends an inordinate amount of money trying to scale sales and marketing. But what if they shifted that investment into making a legitimate difference in the customer’s life?

What if everyone got a real person on the phone within two rings, who was not only an expert on both company and product/service—but also empowered to resolve any and all customer issues with complete autonomy?

What if you really could vote with your wallet and fire that rat bastard ISP that raises your rate more than they improve your service, and go with a more affordable, more privacy-focused, local competitor that actually appreciates your business?

I’m not saying it’s easy—especially not scaling this sort of thing—but it’s the kind of business I want to build one day. Product and services truly worth owning sell themselves—through honest word of mouth.

If you make a widget, even if it’s a variation on a dozen widgets already in the marketplace, I think you should stand out by caring about the results your customers get more than you care about the margin you make on the sale.

Yeah, you need those margins. I know. But at the end of the day, results that fucking matter are all that matters. Make a difference in the customer’s life and you’ve got a customer FOR life.

(You can see how this pairs with my definition of success.)