Do Things That Don’t Scale in Your Ecommerce Store
Wait…what? Things that don’t scale?
Yes, that’s right.
It may sound crazy, but hear us out.
There is an obsession with scale in the online world. It’s one of the biggest reasons people get into ecommerce. Startups with fresh faced entrepreneurs dream of making it big, so obviously scale is at the forefront of their minds…
….but you can’t start with scale as your focus.
It’s not in the best interest of your new and budding business.
Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Scale
First of all, there is a huge danger in scaling too early. You need to develop your brand and your product. You need to see if there is an audience out there for what you are offering. You need to prove your business model works on a small scale. Then you can start to think about expanding and capturing a larger market. Then you can start to focus on scale.
Don’t put the cart before the horse.
If you don’t have your product, your brand, and your audience established before you push for rapid growth, failure is likely just around the bend.
But it’s not just about timing. It’s also about your product.
In order to be super successful, you need to do something differently than it’s already being done. You need to be unique. This can apply to any aspect of the business, whether it’s your product itself, your operations, your brand, your service…but the key is, something has to be different or you won’t be any more successful than the businesses already running.
You need to be innovative and disruptive. And by extension, that means doing things that don’t scale at the start. Otherwise, you’re just copying.
Take AirBNB as an example. Do you know how it started? The founders could not afford their San Francisco apartment so they rented out air mattresses on their living room floor in order to supplement their income. Talk about something that doesn’t scale.
Then once the business had grown, they noticed that only the few apartments with professional level photography were getting booked…so they hired professional photographers to go and shoot all of the apartments on their site. Obviously when they made this decision, scale was not at the forefront of their minds.
So don’t think too much about scale from the beginning. It will limit your creative thought and you may miss out on huge opportunities that just don’t seem practical from a long term growth perspective… But you could be wrong.
That being said, of course you should have scale in mind to an extent when you’re starting your business…especially when it comes to choosing business tools and setting up your organizational structure. But when it comes to your product, it can be a huge limiting factor.
Once you’re growing, then start thinking about how you can translate what you’re already doing successfully and make it scalable.
Look at Metacake. In the beginning, our entire process was not scalable. We approached every project as a blank slate, building a strategy from the ground up, custom tailoring each and every aspect of the project. With that business model, eventually we would reach maximum capacity, so then we started to productize our model. While every project still has to be tailored to the individual needs of our clients, there are a series of base starting points we’ve learned that are universal across many projects. With this model, we can scale.
Don’t make the mistake of limiting your business by focusing on scale too early. Focus on your product, your brand, and your audience and focus on scale once your business model is proven.