Wood Grain Steering Wheels

I work with a lot of startups these days, and startups are frequently excited to talk to me about advanced growth ideas. This makes sense. I’ve been able to have success in my career leveraging advanced strategies to help startups win and to take more control over their growth. I built a course called Advanced Growth Strategy after all. In 99 out of 100 of these cases though, this is the wrong topic. Inevitably, when I dig in, any startup asking me about doing something advanced on SEO, activation, or paid acquisition is not doing something much more basic well yet, and the impact of the more advanced concept won’t bear fruit until they get some of these core concepts of growth working better.

I’ve been using this song lyric from Outkast more recently to snap them back to reality. “If you aint got no rims, don’t get no wood grain steering wheel, for real.” There is a hierarchy of concepts you should be focused on in building your startup, your product strategy, or your growth strategy the same way there is for pimping your ride.

Big Boi always had his priorities straight.

There are two reasons people start to do things out of order inside a company. The first is that many people just want to skip the boring building blocks to do something innovative, which is entirely backwards. Nailing all the fundamentals around building a product or a growth loop is what most of the time enables good innovation. If you don’t have strong product/market fit for your core product, an AI feature isn’t going to save that. Talk to customers! Why aren’t they sticking around? If your pages aren’t getting indexed and you have a bunch of duplicate content, don’t think about microsites or advanced link building ideas. Fix your site!

The second reason this happens is if you have worked on the basics in the past, you don’t have a good process to regularly audit whether they are still working as designed. You might abstract away the detail to a metrics dashboard and not actually run through the user experience regularly yourself, especially in B2B when you are not the customer yourself. Great product development teams get good at auditing what has been built regularly over time. You are surprised what you will catch, from entirely broken flows to slow pages to outdated designs. While fixing these might not 10x your growth, not fixing them will make 10x growth impossible over time.

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Currently listening my Hip-Hop playlist.