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Why Scale Is The Key To Successful Online Business

I love the Internet. The Internet is a great place to share ideas and information, to connect friends and family around the world, and to start a business.

It is this last point that gets me most excited. If you’re an entrepreneur or business person, if you want to create real impact, you need to start an online business.

Don’t get me wrong. There is great value to brick and mortar. Local community is in my DNA. My parents ran a sporting goods shop for nearly 45 years. But the reason today’s entrepreneurs should be salivating at the prospects of operating a business online is one word: scale.

Where the internet can take us

The connectivity of the Internet and the tools technology has created means that every online business has the opportunity to grow exponentially. No matter how hard my dad worked he wasn’t going to reach customers globally. He didn’t aspire for that long before the Internet way even born (or I was for that matter). But an online business can, should and will reach a global audience whether you expect it to or not.

Yet, this possibility has made many people lazy. Some entrepreneurs think scaling is easy; that it is just one viral video away from happening. One funding round that’ll make it sing. One major customer win to compound growth. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not that simple. It takes a little bit of everything finding its way up and to the right.

The truth is scaling a business is hard. In fact, my work as an operator over the years has been some of the most difficult, yet rewarding of my life. This is why this issue needs more exposure. The startup world talks a lot about founding a company, it celebrates founder stories and monster venture capital funding rounds, but not nearly enough is spotlighted about how to make a startup successful AND sustainable. The toll scaling takes on the mental health of startup founders and their executives (and the long-tail of talent) is often overlooked and burnout is real and common. It’s simply not talked about enough. But neither is scaling. 

That is why I suggested the idea of holding a conference dedicated to scale to my friend Jason Calacanis, founder of Launch, several years ago. Jason, who has scaled many businesses, agreed. As a result, be created Launch Scale to bring together some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. He has successfully run it in San Francisco for years and I keynoted the inaugural event way back when. 

When you think of scale, you need to think about scale from two major tracks: 

  • Scaling customer/revenue adoption (i.e. getting more people to pay to use your product or service) 
  • Scaling technology (i.e. making sure that product or service can keep up with the increased demand).

Scaling traffic to your website or application and the infrastructure that supports that, to keep up with demand of your services created through a scalable go-to-market machine is a scaling balance few master which will bring about many hiccups along the way. You just need to limit them, learn from them, and carry on. You can’t have one scaling track without the other to build a successful business. It’s simply not possible.

We all get into entrepreneurship because we’re a little crazy. I’ve always loved this quote by Rob Siltanen.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

If you scale your business correctly, you get to deliver your ideas to the world. Dream big and play the long game. Find that scaling balance. It will take a lot of hard work but it’ll be worth it.

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