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Growth & Traction

‘If you want your company to truly scale, you first have to do things that don’t scale. The biggest leaps you ever get are when you’re small.’

Brian Chesky, Airbnb


Prof. R. Sutton and H. Rao (Stanford University), have spent seven-year studying scaling in enterprises. Despite the large number of enterprises studied, the same common themes popped up again and again, and led them to identify the key beliefs, skills, and actions that are hallmarks of effective scaling.

  1. Scaling starts and ends with individuals: Success depends on the will and skill of people at every level of an organization.
  2. Scaling is not about more: Scaling is about more and better (you first need a consistent amount of users, consistently using your product – product/market fit).
  3. Scaling is a ground war, not an air war. It’s about moving people forward a foot at a time, rather than moving people forward by a thousand feet.
  4. Scaling teams know how to balance: Between replication and customization.
  5. Scaling is about understanding: When to inject enough hierarchy, structure, and process. It’s about knowing when to add more complexity, when it’s just right, and when you need to wait a bit longer.
  6. To scale, you need to have something: You need excellence to spread. If you can’t even deliver on your most basic vanilla promises to customers, then don’t even attempt scaling.
  7. Deciding to scaling, should be a good idea: You need to ask yourself… is it feasible? Is it worth the cost to your own and your team’s mental and physical well-being? And, would you be happy about the destination you will have reached?
  8. Scaling starts ‘Where You Are, Not Where You Hope to Go’: Do the best with what you got, regardless of whether you have a little (or none) or a big budget, staff, and resources at your disposal.

Make sure that accountability prevails and free riding and other Bad behaviors fail!

Source: S. Nguyen, Workplace Psychology

Gaining Traction

  1. Start With An Awesome Product: If you build it really well, customers will come even faster.
  2. Build a brand: An offering or experience that’s difficult to replace.
  3. Connect With Influencers: An active and engaged community of brand advocates.
  4. Do Things That Don’t Scale: ‘Give it a little nudge’.

⇒ Cold emails

⇒ Reaching out to influencers

⇒ Hosting an event

⇒ Giving away swag

⇒ Building an all-star team

It will involve plenty of hard work and motivation, but it’s one of the best methods to gain traction.

Source: S. Olenski, Forbes

Scaling Excellence (3:30)

Prof. H. Rao (Stanford)

A challenge that determines every organization’s success: Scaling farther, faster, and more effectively.

NOTE: video starts & stops at pre-assigned times

Scale (3:30)

Phil Fernandez

Always connect with your customers, and build them into your company’s DNA from the start.

NOTE: video starts & stops at pre-assigned times

Persona & Journey (4:00)

Phil Fernandez

NOTE: video starts & stops at pre-assigned times



Personas give us a person or company to connect with, someone/something who has goals for using our product/service. When developing Persona, we are benefiting from a human centered design approach.

“Think of a persona as your typical or ideal user.”

Persona Creation Worksheet (pdf)

Create A Persona Now!

Learn more about startup Persona (Customer Archetype Video)

Course Curator: Dr. Gerard L. Danford

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