Different vs. More

I’ve had this conversation with a number of founders recently and thought I’d post something here about it in the hopes that others see it/resonate with it as well.

In the world of startups we often talk about “more”. More funding. More sales. More efficiency. More. More. More. And, of course, there are plenty of times when “more” is appropriate. When something is working, and working efficiently, doing more of it is often the right call.

That said, often times “more” isn’t the right answer at all. And focusing on it obscures the need for the real answer: “different”. This should be intuitive but in my experience often gets missed (either in its entirety or at least in part) as companies scale. Just ask any CEO who has scaled a business from 50 to 100 people (or from 100 to 200 people; etc, etc).

At 50 people all you’re thinking about is how can you do more of the things that are working. This myopic focus after all is likely an important part of the success that got you from 1 to 50 people in the first place. But that’s actually not how scale works at a business – especially in the growth phases. From there you need to consider a cycle of change that fluctuates between doing things differently – then doing more of it – then doing things differently again. This might mean reorganizing key functional areas of your business. It might mean bringing in more senior managers in a few key departments. It may involve shifting around where certain functions report up to. It might mean rethinking a product strategy or changing product tiering or pricing. It almost certainly means rethinking as a business leader how you function as a manager.

Successful businesses, in my experience, are continually looking for ways to rethink how they operate and aren’t afraid to make meaningful changes – even to things that appear to be working – with an eye towards how “different” can actually be of greater impact than “more”.