Which Is the Better Growth Strategy for Startups: Getting Bigger or Better?

If you are even a little interested in startups and startup economy, by now, you know that every startup has to have a growth strategy. It is an unavoidable question not only when you meet investors, advisers and partners but also when you are actually working with your team.

Traditionally, startups are supposed to grow fast. Profits are secondary but startups are advised to reach a scale. As they typically say, scale matters. Founders of many startups interact with me and like to know from me what their growth strategy should be like. While there is no one answer which suits them all, I generally advise them to be more focused on being better than being bigger.

If one frequently attends VC rounds or pitches by startup founders, the most important part, which generally everyone emphasizes is scalability. Scalability typically means the ability to grow; in terms of revenues and number of users.

Out of all interactions I had with startup founders, hardly a few were concerned about being better. I would always prefer the efforts in direction of being better over the efforts in direction of being bigger.

Why so?

Being bigger simply means you try to leverage the existing situation to its fullest. It means your focus will always be increasing the numbers. On the other hand, being better means you try to be relevant to the customer, to the end user and improve to be more useful to him.

As the tech-scenario or user preferences change, those who focus on being bigger become clueless, unable to figure out what to do next. Whereas, if you focus on being better, you catch such trends when they are nascent and consider them while designing your forthcoming products which allows you to be in the market for longer time spans, allowing you to grow further. 

It is not at all a surprise that Google tweaks their algorithm so frequently; it’s just a way of ensuring that they are becoming better day by day.

Also, being bigger and being better are not mutually exclusive activities; they rather go hand in hand. This is also proven by the fact that companies who try to be better, are actually the ones who are biggest and the converse is not true.

For big companies, this is not a serious question as they can afford to have different teams of people to focus on being better and being bigger. The problem exists when you are a startup. When you are a startup, resources are limited and utilizing them in a right manner and for a right cause could be a game changer. Focus on being better in your initial days and scale will follow!


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