Start Up Advice: Don’t Worry About Scale

Start Up Advice: Don’t Worry About Scale

I feel like a broken record. I’m always advising start-ups not to worry about scale.

I remind new entrepreneurs that scale isn’t a BIG issue in the beginning of a new venture.

The secret is to find just ten people who will love your product and want to buy it and want to tell their friends. Scale isn’t the issue.

By the way, those ten people can’t be people related to you. Then get to 100 and then a thousand. But start slowly and don’t let concerns about how to scale interfere with getting the first wave of passionate customers. Once ten people love your product, strive for one hundred.

But start slowly and don’t let concerns about how to scale interfere with getting the first wave of passionate customers.

A Snapshot from AirBnB

When Joe Gebbia and his friend Brian started AirBnB, things weren’t working out at all. No one seemed interested in renting a room in a stranger’s house even though it was less expensive than hotels. Joe realized that the photography people used were terrible and unprofessional. A person with a spare room to rent would take bad pictures, and the photos did nothing to help entice consumers to rent the space. He needed to fix the problem at hand – and not worry about how it would scale later.

So Joe said, what if hired a photographer to take the pictures? His colleagues working with him thought it was a dumb idea because they couldn’t scale this approach. But Joe knew better.

He understood that if good photography were the big impediment to success, he would tackle that problem later. For now, he needed to test his hypothesis, so a professional photographer was engaged.

Billions of Dollars Later

Joe’s hunch was right. It is a great example of why scalability isn’t an immediate challenge for most start-ups. Finding ten people to buy from you is the right initial challenge to address and to see if they would share their experience with their friends.

Scale comes second. A handful of dedicated customers is primary. Don’t make the mistake of worrying how some action will scale.

Be like Joe, and find those first ten customers to delight.

Did you know I helped and encouraged Joe Gebbia to start AirBnB? You can read about it here. Need help with your start-up? Learn from an INC 500 company owner who never worried about scale. Call me at 919 720 0995 or connect via email at

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and a wonderful photographer named Maria-Molinero.




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