A lot of people talk about the importance of doing things that don't scale, doing a lot of work manually at the beginning to acquire your first users and customers. I've been embracing this with a heavy focus on content (see: 'Doing things no one else enjoys' as competitive advantage) and community outreach.
After doing a lot of written content, videos, and community support myself, however, I noticed that "uploading yet another video" sometimes doesn't really support our growth and community as much as it did at the beginning.
What moved the needle yesterday doesn't necessarily move it today.
Do Things that Move The Needle
This seems obvious, but can sometimes be forgotten in daily work. Especially as a founder in an early-stage startup, you can sometimes lose track and do things that aren't as important as others.
This is why I'm trying to ask myself "Is this going to move the needle?" when planning tasks.
Focusing too much on this can lead to problems though:
Short-term vs Compounding Growth Effects
A lot of the work that feels insignificant right now, like recording videos or writing tutorials that don't get a lot of initial traction, might lead to a compounding effect. For example, a friend told me that the first 1,000 YouTube subscribers are the most work. Most accounts never make it there because they lose motivation, and never get to reap the benefits.
I believe in the long-term effect consistently pushing out valuable content. However, it's important to find ways to do so while still making significant short-term progress.
Moving that Long-Term Needle
Here are some ways how we're trying to achieve this:
- Instead of repeatedly answering questions in Slack, we're setting up community forum (with Discourse) where answers don't get lost, can be linked to, and the best one: can be discovered on Google.
- Build out the right tools that community members are empowered to create content like written tutorials and videos. This is already happening, but can be facilitated, for example through better content discovery on our website, and a contributor section that showcases helpful community members.
- Focus on cornerstone content: Don't spend a few "half a days" for videos that bring in just a few views. Focus on a well-researched topic with the possibility to attract hundreds to thousands of new users. Even if it takes more time to prepare.
Those are just a few ideas. I'm curious what you think!