Start Small

February 21, 2021

Imagine that it’s your first day at dance classes. Everyone’s going through warm-up and stretches.

Someone does a full-split. You’ve never done a full-split. Should you attempt one?

The meaning of start small

Now apply this as an analogy into other aspects of your life. Let’s take health and business.

You’ve not gone to the gym in months. If you go today, should you pump weights and use all the machines and turn it all up?

You could, but the most likely outcome is managing to break my body.

You’ve never started a business. If you start today, should you start by aiming to build a billion-dollar business?

You could, but the most likely outcome is failure.

Just like you don’t do a full-split on day 1, you can’t build a gigantic business in one go.

Start small. Build a tiny business instead, like a micro-SaaS.

The power of starting small

Don’t get me wrong. Some people are able to build a unicorn in their first attempt.

This post shouldn’t deter you from trying to start big, especially if you think you have what it takes in terms of

  • understanding the market
  • the product that will cater to customers demand
  • how you will reach your customers and at scale
  • hiring people and managing a team
  • managing expectations of investors
  • Having the mindset required to figure out what will help you grow fast and get to the next milestone

In my case, the understanding of several of these facets that make a successful unicorn weren’t as strong at the beginning of my journey. It’s likely that you might be in the same boat today.

It took me multiple attempts and failures to grasp that I am missing some fundamental knowledge about building a business, and that aiming to “change the world”, or “build a unicorn”, or “raise funding for my idea” was clearly not working out for me.

Before I could do that, I needed to learn the fundamentals.

So I turned the other way, decided to stop trying to change the world and instead start small.

Instead of building a unicorn, I decided to try and earn $1 or $100 on the internet. The unicorn outcome for me and Sankalp became $3000, and even that seemed like a lot back then.

But unlike a full-split, a half (or quarter, lol) split was much more achievable.

The true power of starting small - the chances of success become significantly higher.

Start small, grow big

Through this approach of starting small, mine and Sankalp’s understanding of the fundamentals of building a business became strong.

We now know what it takes to identify an idea with potential, execute on it and get actual paying customers.

And now that we learnt all this, we let our ambitions grow bigger. Again, not all at once, but step by step, like climbing a ladder.

That’s what we are doing at DelightChat.

We are

  • Taking on a larger challenge, it’s a significantly more complex product to build than the WhatsApp plugin we previously built at SuperLemon.
  • Building a team, managing other people adds a whole new layer of complexity than the simplicity of when it was just the two of us.
  • Playing a much bigger role in the lives of our customers, which means our solution needs to be that much better, more robust, dependable, available everywhere (for example, as a mobile app) the customers need it to be.
  • Charging more because we are adding more value to our customer’s lives. At SuperLemon, the avg. customer paid $15/mo. At DelightChat, we expect that to be $150/mo by the time our product is fully mature.

Starting small gave us the room to learn and paved the path to grow big.

We are now taking steps that are 10x bigger than everything we did in the previous venture.

I don’t think I could have started DelightChat in 2019. But today, it feels just difficult enough that we can do it if we try our best.

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