The following, recent observation by Sam Altman, President Y Combinator, struck a chord with me:

“The current fashion of Silicon Valley startups has taken this to an unhealthy extreme – startups have a weekly growth goal before they really have any strong idea about what they want to build.”

Unfortunately, this is not a fashion reserved for Silicon Valley startups only. European early stage startups are also all about “growth”.

Growth hacking is becoming to early stage startups, what TV Shop magic diets and electric ab belts are to people looking for fast track to fitness and happiness, instead of dealing with the root causes of their problems.

The root cause of a problem for early startups often lies in a product, as Sam, too, points out.

So, instead of taking the fast track to failure, let’s recap what we already know about premature scaling and building successful companies:

Not long ago, Sam also published Startup Playbook, a #mustread consisting of the most generalizable parts of the Y Combinator advice, based on having to date funded 1 000+ companies, including few notable success stories. Reading it took me straight back to 2009, when I presented the “Top Ten Advice To Make Your Early Stage Startup Succeed” at the Geek Girl Meetup. The subtitle was fittingly: “It’s rarely the competition that kills your startup.”

In 2011, the fine people at Compass released The Startup Genome Report (download) on its findings regarding premature scaling, and I got to back up my selection of top ten advice with statistics.

In 2016, we now have, together with the learnings from Y Combinator, a strong ground to point out the common denominators how to successfully reach product/market fit and scale. In addition to luck and timing, of course. You will need both 🙂

Thus, my top ten advice to reach scale remain the same, but with two additional perks:

Don’t end up like Scarface. Don’t get high on your own supply.

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. She has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies, and rated as one of the best startup mentors in Europe. Read more about her work and personal guidelines. Contact Paula to help you build better products and drive growth. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen” – Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn.

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