Recently I read an article about how Facebook and other startups started so well when they first entered the IPO stage and are now facing increasing defeat from the older brands (Apple and Google) on Wall Street as their stocks keep falling. These companies started very small and never lost focus on their niches. They then chose to go public. Suddenly the problems are bigger; the strategising is more pivotal. You lose focus on how, why and who you started this thing for.
The first ten thousand users that flocked to your site, told their friends about you and made sure to always stay on and became your unsung heroes- your unpaid brand ambassadors.
They do get paid, they get paid with the service that you give them. Your on-time updates, your swift response to technical issues and your clear understanding of the people that you are catering to. Of course you get bigger and bigger thus you now have more customers to cater to but don’t let them redefine or steer you away from what your initial goal was/is. It is because of that vision that you are able to find yourself in the position to have a larger audience to satisfy- so why try and change that? Grow as fat as your conviction and the world allow you to but stay small in mind. Never forget user #100 .
Getting fat happens when you have created a niche that has grown but has not grown out of itself. So, you basically spend your efforts making the barriers more malleable so as to get everyone in the niche to grow WITH each other (not segregating into their own niches), understanding the different purpose they each have in the development of this “great thing” and eventually successfully creating a community. Not a fan base, not a user base, not a customer list and not an email list but a community. A group of people willing to work together to assist you in constantly making their day that much more special with a new “Timeline” feature or finally managing to allow them to ACTUALLY delete photos from their albums.
Don’t be that company that suddenly becomes the man and develops a sense of entitlement to “his people”- don’t be tall. From the Führer’s altitude… its pretty hard to see user #100.
Stay Small. Get fat instead of Getting Tall.