Early on, founders are often trying to figure out how to get more people to use their product. In reality, they should be investing in making the product even more remarkable for their existing, albeit tiny, user base.
Your worst customers, the ones who find the least amount of value in your product, always cancel early.
While it's tempting to spend time on how you might keep more of these customers from cancelling, I'm here to argue that in the early days it's in your best interest to not worry too much about them at all.
Instead, it's a better use of your time to focus on the part of the cohort that isn't churning (or at least hasn't churned yet). What do they like about the product? How can you make it even better for them?
If you focus on increasing value for the people who haven't churned, they'll love the product even more which means they'll continue to stick around and eventually bring you additional customers.
When we launched the On Deck Founder Fellowship, there were people who we sent offers to in the early days who didn't accept them.
We could have agonized over why some people didn't accept the offers to join the fellowship. We could have spent time trying to convince them they were making a mistake or changing the product to address some of their objections.
Instead, we focused on the people who did accept the offers. Could we make an incredible experience for them?
The answer is yes. We did, and it caused them to refer amazing people to the fellowship. And it kept growing from there: in one and half years we've had 1,200 people go through the fellowship and they've raised over $200M in funding so far. Now, our offer acceptance rate has never been higher and we've blown past $1 million in revenue this year. Had we spent more of our time focusing on why a few people weren't accepting our product, we would have spent less time on the people who were excited to use it, and we wouldn't be where we are today.
Early on, spend less time trying to convince people and more time focusing on delighting the folks who are already excited. Growth will be the result.
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