J. Kelly Hoey

Revenue, Subscribers — So What Are You Really Seeking?

A recent email from a startup founder that was worth sharing my response to as the question the founder asked, in some form or another, is asked all too frequently and my answer, regardless of the sector or market or eco-system, is typically the same. Bottom line: investors aren’t always the right answer (when the question is about growing a business), neither is scaling quickly the right business strategy. Seeking advice is always a good idea but asking big, open boiling-the-ocean questions — never!

Founder: I launched a mobile service …we’ve had terrific press, are growing monthly subscribers, and showing strong revenue growth (85k+ revenue in 5 months). I want to scale this quickly…. I’m reaching out for insight on strategic advisors, investors and guidance that would be a good fit for our next steps.

Me: Here’s my advice — since you are gaining subscribers and generating revenue: focus on what is best to grow your company and what your strategic needs are (i.e. particular advice vs. generically casting about for advisors). Perhaps other than Apple, every company on the globe could do with more money, so ask yourself what you are really looking for — and seek that specific guidance and if you’re fortunate, investors who have the skills, experience, and contacts in addition to a checkbook. And consider this, outside investment and scaling quickly may not be in the best interests of growing the business the way you want to grow it.

P.S. I’ve written on startups on Inc.com, LinkedIn and more often than not, I toss a thought or two into my weekly newsletter.


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