April 19, 2019

What things have you done to grow your business that don't scale?

Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry

Often we don't see behind the scenes or the hard graft that goes into getting a business off the ground.

I came across Do Things That Don't Scale which is a nice idea and reminder, even if the list there isn't actually that big.

I'm wondering what 'unscalable' things you've done to help your business grow?

I have:

  • I hand stamped notebooks that we gave out at our conferences.
  • replied to all incoming emails
  • created and responded to an uncountable amount of forum threads
  • done stupid amounts of work that I couldn't or didn't want to outsource at the time
  1. 2

    Manually visiting all remote job boards and finding companies looking for customer support agents. Then visit their websites, learning about them and send a personalized email.

  2. 1
    • Posting my personal email address and asking users of my WordPress Digital Signage plugin to send in feature requests, discussing every single one of them. This got me very motivated, gave me a better idea about what my users need or expect, and gained me some fans. Removed my email address when my plugin hit the 1.000 active installs mark, my mailbox started to get flooded, and I didn't learn that much anymore.
    • Sending a personal message to every user that ever contacted me asking them to join the Newsletter mailinglist.
    • Searching for blogs or Facebook groups targeting potential user profiles like school IT staff, theater marketing professionals, open source solutions for local government, restaurant owners, .. and sending them a personal message about my WordPress Digital Signage plugin.
  3. 1

    For Indy Hall:

    • 1-1 coffee dates. A ton of them.
    • Manual billing and membership management for...8 years? (there was no Stripe when we started, and coworking software is still pretty terrible)
    • No RFID/Biometric check in system. We take attendance manually, every day, multiple times a day!
    • No way to sign up online without first talking to a human.

    For Stacking the Bricks/30x500

    • we taught every version of 30x500 "live" for the first 7 years.
    • we manually reviewed every applicant for the first 7 years too, and after a while turned down more students than we accepted
    • no real email automation for the first 8 years. every email we sent, we actually sent.
    • it's just Amy and me (and her husband Thomas pitches in occasionally). We hired someone to help us with support/communications for a year, but ended up not having enough work to keep her busy. our closest peers have teams of contractors/staff, we're just us!
  4. 1

    Pretty much everything I've done up until now has felt unscalable... which is probably why I've started and quit so many things. :)

    But I've learned from every single unscalable thing... and one of the most important things I've learned recently is to keep at it -- that things will eventually start to grow, it just doesn't happen as fast as you'd want it to, unfortunately.

    But if you plant the seeds and actually let them grow, as unscalable as that feels -- at least you're giving yourself a shot.

  5. 1
    • I am writing personal emails to all businesses listed on my platform
    • I call businesses via phone to understand their needs
    • I respond to all emails and messages from users
    • I help the companies with editing pictures
    • I promote them on Facebook / insta and my website
    • I interview companies

    A lot of things that I do currently do not scale but I hope it will pay off

    1. 1

      Do you have good luck by calling businesses? I'm really curious about how you do it and how much it's efficient.

      1. 2

        In my experience, calling them is received very positive. I research the company first, so I know what to say about them, then I just call introduce myself, flatter them a bit, and talk about my business and how it can help them. I do not sell anything in the first call. I offer them something for free. It’s mainly to get a foot into the door. So far it works, but too early to say the long term effect. Will report in a couple of month.

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