Growth is no doubt the main focus for early-stage startups.
But growth isn’t always linear, nor does it come overnight—yet the myths on how successful startups have come to be unicorns continue to be believed and perpetuated by founders.
Jenny Busing, co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at Excellent, explains:
“Founders, I think because of the way that we are wired, we think that we have to do things the hard way.”
Technical founders tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be, for no other reason than wanting to see growth immediately.
Myth 1 – A launch will mean success.
Jenny refers to a launch-only GTM strategy as a “red flag.”
“There’s no strategy for, then, on the second day, or how are we making this long term?”
It’s more effective to see a launch as an opportunity to engage with your audience, rather than making it about you.
Often, technical founders see Apple launch a new product and want to emulate their process, however Jenny suggests that anytime you are going to launch something and you think it will make a big difference: “Imagine also a world in which it makes no difference.”
Myth 2 – Hire a sales manager and sales will come.
Hiring a salesperson, or a sales manager (“If they wanna really mess it up and really blow a lot of money”), is not your sales process.
Jenny, first, asks founders: “What is your conversion rate?”
And if there’s no knowledge of this, it’s clear that the founder doesn’t have a lot of predictability around sales—which is necessary to growth.
“Everyone thinks the silver bullet in sales is getting someone who knows about sales, but sales is actually knowing the customer and knowing their problem and being able to translate that.”
Myth 3 – Funding will solve product market fit.
“It’s not an achievement to raise money,” says Jenny.
By focusing on raising funds, you’re also putting a lot of pressure on yourself—especially if you don’t give yourself the space and time to figure things out.
Jenny advises to understand your customer first, before “starting that clock.”
Phil Howie, founder and CEO at Onwardly, agrees: “Go slow before you go fast.”
You may have the best pitch in the world, but if you’re pouring money into where there is no product market fit, you’re simply wasting your money.
“And you’re gonna have the wrong expectations with your investor,” Jenny adds.
Myth 4 – Founders can do it all alone.
Jenny explains that due to being wired the same: “I think founders have an actual disease where they feel like they have to do it by themselves.”
Growth won’t come when the founder is burnt out. Additionally, when founders fail to ask for or allow any help, it “permeates into the DNA of their culture.”
To be able to reach that next goal, it’s essential to share the load wherein everyone in the organisation works together on solving the problem.
“That’s why we’re all here together. That’s why we organised as an organisation.”
Watch the full recording of Upwards with Jenny Busing on YouTube or LinkedIn.
"We wanted a solution that was fit for purpose, reflecting our age and stage, while delivering the outcomes we wanted for our customers and people. After looking at what was available, Onwardly stood out as serving this purpose perfectly."