Growth is the currency of all startups. Whether we’ve got investors checking up on us or we’re bootstrapping our way forward, the number one metric of performance is always growth.
Sometimes, however, growth can get itself in the way of what’s best for a startup. As a software company starts growing at more than 50% month on month, other priorities arise that can (and should) place continuous growth lower down the ladder of priorities.
Undefined processes, bugs in the software, stability, scalability, and security are just a few of the things that need to be addressed. An increase in customers also leads to a higher demand for customer support. Expansion is exciting – but just because focus is on growth, the service for existing customers should not be compromised.
We at Shopbox recently announced our partnership with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. Together, we have financed and launched a Windows 10 version of our successful Shopbox app with the aim of cutting queue waiting times and delivering faster service.
At Shopbox, we’ve made huge strides recently with the implementation of the Windows app for a major quick service customer in Sweden. However, we’ve now decided to slow down growth in order to focus on one of our core values of providing an excellent, stable, and simple product.
Based on this commitment, the entire company is currently taking a “time-out” to focus on the core of the product and make sure that the product delivers above expectations of existing and potential future clients. This is something that we feel essential because if our product delivers above expectations, we’re sure to get referrals – something that’s extremely important in an industry like ours.
Important to keep in mind though, is that a time-out is not a time-out from the hard work we usually put into growing our startup – on the contrary, it’s a time for focusing on making absolutely sure the entire company delivers.
It’s not just making sure the entire experience of the product will be more seamless, smooth, coherent and reliable. It’s not just making sure that tech delivers bug-free code, or that our amazing UX skills are used the right way – it’s also ensuring that our communication is aligned, our service great and our funnel smoothly working.
And why exactly is this so important? As Eric Ries so famously puts it:
A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
In such conditions of uncertainty, being agile, having the ability to act fast and deliver promptly is essential. While those features are inevitable to achieve success, mastering the art of navigating in conditions of uncertainty also requires a deep understanding of the vehicle which you operate; your own product. And understanding your own products starts with defining it, with aligning it, and with establishing the right basis for an uncertain future. And a time-out to go back to your values, back to what you actually wanted to change in this world, back to your “why” – serves just this purpose.
At the end of this period, we will come out on the other side as a grown-up startup. A startup that understands the need for processes, but that also incorporates flexibility – a startup that delivers a seamless experience in an almost entirely automated practice. A startup that knows and acts according to our values. And finally, a grown-up startup that has found its shelf in the market and now simply needs to conquer the rest of the shelves.
When we get out on the other side, we’ll be ready to take on the world. And we’ll be ready to grow – even faster than before.