I think startups can scale too quickly, without first identifying if they're really building something valuable for at least a small niche of people — the ones who soon turn into your true fans. These are people who initially offer you your first resounding proof of value; they let you know that you're onto something that actually creates value, if only for a small number of people... yet. And I feel providing that kind of value to 100 people is much better than providing something that is meh and forgettable for 100,000 people.
The Pareto Principle applies even in customer segmentation, where 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your revenue. The 100 True Fans heuristic helps you focus on nailing the value proposition in all its nuance for those 20% first, and then move on to scaling the product, while trying to meaningfully retain all that which isn't scalable and makes the product really special.
Being really fluent with a tool is not only a competitive edge, but it is also a great signal for expertise. Ever seen how fluently a master chef handles her knife, or a carpenter uses his tape while at work? Just a few seconds of observation and you will know whether someone knows their way with a tool based on how fluently and gracefully they handle it. The tool is an extension of their body, and they use it like they would use their limbs: it's second nature. Of course, knowing your way around a tool isn't everything. Knowing what to do with it and having taste and clarity around objectives is what makes the tool really sing. But once you have the vision, investing in learning the tools of your trade is perhaps the best investment you can make in your career.
"For the number one project, we moved both heaven and earth to deliver it. We made sure that the number one project had a team with all roadblocks removed: they had full authority to commandeer whatever resources and attention needed to support the delivery of their work.
I mean this literally. We commandeered the entire company to deliver one project at a time, knowing that this radical unblocking would likely stall other projects.
This trade off was okay because the previous state of affairs was that nothing was getting completed. So given the trade off between delivering at least the number one thing versus nothing at all, it was a bargain that even the most skilled internal negotiators were willing to try.
So we did that. And more importantly, we accomplished that number one project. Then we moved on to the next project."
Some food for thought
Tie this back into the100 True Fans piece and you will see many similarities. Anyway, that's all for today. Enjoy the long weekend and wishing you a very very Happy Independence Day! 🇮🇳