Linear Growth is Unbearable

Success will happen, forever from now.

Not every company grows exponentially. The startup dream is all about big fast exits. That's what you signed up for right? Mailroom to marketing director with a six figure salary in three months; stock options cashed in for a cool million. If you're a startup employee outside the Bay area, prepare for a few shitty years.

If it doesn't send dick pics, you'll be waiting a while

If you really want to see rapid viral growth, make YouTube videos of yourself falling down the stairs, or some dumb app that sends the word 'Yo' to everyone else who has that dumb app (Investors love those). The reality is that for most business and consumer facing products there is a long lead time for adoption. In niche markets complete domination can take years.

The struggle is real and it will last for years

Month 1 revenues were $10,000. Month 2 revenues were $11,000 dollars. Hey that's 10% growth in a month! We're going right to the top!

Wait. We've got $50,000 in expenses every month. Hmm, that's alright we've got $500,000 in the bank, we'll do 20% next month, we'll be break even in no time!

Month 3, $12,100 in revenue. Damn, 10% again. Month 4, 5, etc the same thing. No matter how much time your SEO wizard spends on his potions, no matter how many shiny new features you release 10 - fucking - percent a month.

18 Months is how long it will take to break the $50k MRR mark.

In Month 29, you've finally repaid that initial $500,000 investment (with $36,309.30 to spare. Time for a bonus!)

You'll get the mail and do the marketing, all for a pittance.

When you work for a company like this, you are going to be required to take on an ever increasing number of roles. More customers means there's more work to be done to support them. The never ceasing quest to escape your linear growth means there's an increasing amount of 'stab in the dark' work. Every week you will set out on a quest to optimize the funnel only to watch your 10% revenue growth turn into 10.1%. After a few months you'll start to experience LGS (Linear Growth Syndrome)

Symptoms include:

  1. Boredom
  2. A growing sense of doom
  3. Inadequate salary
  4. CEO/Founder resentment
  5. Daytime drinking
  6. Existential crises

Living with Linear Growth Syndrome

There is no known cure for LGS. But there are several ways to live with the disease.

  1. Do side work (if you have the energy).

    Side work can be rejuvenating. The fun part is building things, not maintaining them.

  2. Embrace your drinking

    It will ruin your health and probably your relationships, but you won't remember anyway.

  3. Get a hobby

    Do you know why Grandmas knit? They're really bored. At least that's what I assume. Why else would someone knit?

  4. Quit

    Take your meaningless equity and run! Stock option agreements make great material for paper airplanes.

Posted on Jul 22
Written by Scotchy