Do things that do not scale - Kathleen Celmins
Do things that don't scale

Do things that do not scale

Act like you only have one customer.

I’m going to stand on a soapbox a little bit.

People think that they need to do that something that can absolutely, indefinitely scale. Stop thinking about scale. The very best ideas just don’t scale.

I want to talk about Airbnb when they were a fledgling startup. They were all living in this disgusting little apartment themselves and competing against Craigslist for renters. They had no idea how to stand out.

So they did something that, on its surface, does not scale. They hired professional photographers and stagers to take great pictures of the places they were renting out. Then, all of a sudden, they were not competing against Craigslist – because Craigslist is ugly. Instead, they had this beautiful, design-forward approach and were in a very different space.

That just doesn’t sound like it can scale, right?

Now there are millions upon millions of Airbnb listings! If they stopped because they thought about how that wouldn’t scale then they would never, ever have gotten off the ground.

We’re not all Airbnb, right? But I’ve seen this in other situations. I have a friend who’s just getting started as a coach, and she keeps changing her business model every other week.

One morning she had four coaching calls before noon and she realized, “oh my gosh, this can’t possibly scale.” She did the math and she thought “If I keep going like this, I’m going to have 40 calls in a week and I can’t handle that.” She had had four coaching calls before noon on only ONE day and was already feeling burnt out.

She did predictive math – but that math only works if you take out the human factor. She stopped right as she was starting to build momentum. Nobody thought of her as a coach anymore. In fact, they didn’t know what to think of her and her income hit a wall then precipitously dropped.  I want to make sure that you lean toward things that don’t scale.

Think about your business as a one-to-one model.

The internet has kind of broken us from this, but think about the one-to-one model. Everything you do is personal, not distant. Warm, not cold. Caring, not apathetic. Invested, not uninterested. And it necessarily has a limit, because you can’t scale the one-to-one model.

You just can’t, and that’s okay. What you want to do is to be the right person, providing the right service, for one customer. Then you can figure out how to pull back and change that into a one-to-many model. Think about this when you’re writing a sales page; certainly when you’re writing your emails. What would you write if you were writing to one perfect client? Then you can stop thinking about what everybody else is going to say, how they’re going to respond, whatever it is that’s stopping you from accomplishing the thing you know how to do well.


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