What I learned growing from $0 to $1+ million in revenue, twice

By Joseph Walla, CEO, HelloSign

26. For fundraising, revenue growth slides are more powerful than free user growth slides

This may be controversial, but I completely pulled our free user growth slide from our deck and stuck it in the addendum. Investors were way more receptive to our pitch. Free user growth is just a proxy for future revenue. So, if you have revenue, just show that instead.

27. Hone in on ‘deal breaker features’, not feature requests

There’s something powerful about someone saying they won’t sign up unless you have X feature or canceling because you don’t do Y. Anyone can have a feature request. Few people will vote with their feet.

Building those deal breaker features will produce more revenue.

28. Always know your runway

I still meet with founders getting blindsided when they realize they’re almost out of money (Don’t be the startup that accidentally runs out of money).

Knowing your runway allows you to make smart decisions about revenue and fundraising, early. Just knowing when you’ll run out of money is healthy, since it guides your daily decisions on revenue.

29. Your free users are for marketing

I remember an experienced CEO explaining to me that free users are just one part of the funnel. She thinks of supporting those free users as part of the marketing budget. They spread the word. They become engaged and upgrade later. But, think of them in that context.

30. Growth is not magic and it isn’t a black box

It’s something companies do or don’t. They do it well or don’t. There are tried and true tactics out there.

I see a lot of almost desperate innovating when it comes to growth. Sure, keep looking for the hacks and viral loops. Maybe you’ll come up with your own equivalent of the Dropbox referral page. But, while you’re doing that, there are a ton of sources of growth that are tried and true over the years. You just have to build those channels: BD, PPC, SEO, channel partners, PR, content, API evangelism, viral and more.

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