The perils of enforcing immediate ROI.
Startups (us included) have an incessant urge to constantly ask “is that ROI positive” for every business decision. We’ve become so accustomed to constantly think about growing our user base, making our product better, and watching out for the runway cliff that we often misguide ourselves by missing important connections in the decisions we make every day. It’s only natural to worry about those 3 crucial ingredients and nothing else…
What we have come to realize as a team is that we need to remind ourselves that not everything is connected to users, products, or revenue, at least not immediately. There are things we do, decisions we make, that are investments in future returns. We talk to customers and sometimes encourage them to try a competitor’s solution if our product isn’t a great fit. We drive 5+ hours to meet with a group of founders in L.A. just to shoot the shit. We build custom integrations for a high profile client just so they can be 1% more happy. None of those things see immediate ROI in the grand scheme of things. But all of those things connect dots in our long term survival and success road map.
And yes, we understand. With only so much time users, your product, and money do matter. They matter a great deal. We’d be lying if we told you that weren’t true. That said, users, great products, and money don’t always come easily. Sustainable businesses know how to evaluate an idea, make a decision, and act upon that decision in a variety of timelines. In short, you need to learn to separate bullshit from the things that matter even if it isn’t immediately obvious.
The important thing to remember is not to lose sight of what matters to you and your team. Ultimately, we’re in the business of making people want what we’re building. The long game is about execution. Not short term ROI.