05/11/2021

Focusing on the right problems

Founder: Trevor Hough, Co-Founder CEO
Company: Yottled
Stage: Pre-Seed
Date Founded: 2020
Headcount: 5
Industry: E-Commerce and Content Management

It’s incredibly challenging to be part of a start-up. There’s pressure from everywhere: meeting customer deadlines, effectively managing burn, acquiring customers, quality code, communicating your value, and more. Here are the top 3 lessons that have allowed our team to be more effective and acquire more users:

  • Focus on one problem
  • Focus on one metric
  • Use data effectively

Let’s dig in.

Focus on one core problem

You can only do one thing well. If you can’t communicate your ideas and value in less than 5 words, your customers won’t understand your message either. Yes, you may have other value, but focus on one thing and be the absolute best at it. Consider the following examples:

  • Google does search
  • Coinbase does bitcoin
  • Airbnb does rentals

All of these companies do other things. At the core, they focus on one thing and do it well. Don’t get distracted. Focus. Here’s how we’ve done this at Yottled:

Shopify: goods
Yottled: services

Everything we focus on goes into enabling someone to provide services in a Shopify like experience. Want a marketplace? Not us. Want to list content? We got you covered. It’s provided us a framework to prioritize and contextualize our product offering. It’s become easier (not easy) for us to say “yes” or “no” to feature requests.

Focus on one metric

Hint – this metric is not revenue. It’s usage. Find one metric that drives everything in your product. It’s not two metrics, not five, it’s one. One metric to drive every decision that you can ask “if we build this thing, will our metric go up?” Then you’re able to compare and contrast. That way, when a customer asks for something, you’re rationally and logically able to deduce if it will help contribute to your guiding metric.

Why not revenue? Because sales are temporary highs. But driving usage means customers are deriving value out of the product. If they’re benefitting from the product, they will want to pay for it. Revenue is a natural by-product of usage. Focus on usage and sales will naturally come. However, focusing on revenue just means you’ve sold a vision, not that the product is actually usable.

Tangibly, we focus on transactions at Yottled. It’s our one metric that matters to indicate usage. Our customers get value when one of their clients books their service or buys their content. Each of these transactions counts as “one”. Everything we do is laser focused on transactions going up and to the right.

Use data effectively

It’s easy to say “I think” when talking about designs, workflows, and features. It’s also easy to get distracted by phrasing, colors, icons, and more. I can’t stress enough – who cares about what you think. What matters is actual user interactions and the feedback from your users. A partially finished product that has real feedback, real user data, real feedback, is better than your opinion (no offense).

Get your half usable product out. If it’s buggy, you’ll find out and you’ll fix it because your users will tell you. Further, you’ll be able to collect objective data and merge it with subjective feedback to find out where blockers are, not what you expected. Users do odd things that we never expected. In turn, this will help you focus on your key problems to solve.

Takeaways

At the end of the day, the minor details really don’t matter if you’re focused on the right problems. In addition, if you have a metric to help make decisions, you’re always going to ask the team “will this help increase our driving metric?” It will be a guiding principle to help make decisions when paralyzed by analysis. Finally, at the end of the day, just get your product out. It’s better to have a half-baked and used product than perfect and not used.