Things That Don’t Scale Have Exponential Effects

Things That Don’t Scale Have Exponential Effects


One common piece of advice you hear while working with startups, or on a growth team is: Do things that don’t scale. It’s a funny quote that basically means go out there, knock on doors so to speak, talk to everyone, etc.

The saying itself is a bit scary, people think immediately “What do you mean do things that don’t scale? I ain’t got no time for that. I need growth and I need it now and I need it to feed on itself and grow by itself, I can’t waste my time on things that ‘don’t scale’.

But calm down, because once you start doing things that don’t scale, you’ll realize something quickly. These things that don’t scale, actually do, in their own way.

Let me explain. Back in December 2014, we started a welcome thread on We asked new members to comment and introduce themselves. We wanted to see if people would stick around and be more active if we responded to their initial engagements on the site.

Over time, a small number of these people have become regularly active members in the community. From there we encourage them by upvoting their submissions, leaving comments and doing our best to make sure they are responded to when they put something out there.

Not all of them have stuck around, but those who have, they’ve become our evangelist. They are out there talking about us, bringing in great content, telling their friends from other communities about us, and asking how they can help us grow – FOR FREE.

The actions we have taken, that ‘don’t scale’ are scaling, because we are growing our network. Letting the people who are intrigued by our growth and how our site can benefit them, know we care about them. Making sure they realize that we care about their careers and their success, and in return, they are doing wonders for us.

One member is talking to another huge network about working with us. A particularly active and popular member provides us with regular original content and moderates our Slack channel. And one more is continually submitting content they find on the internet that is likely to be upvoted and become conversational for us.

How many people have these members brought in? To be honest, I can’t tell you, I know from the things I’ve seen them doing that they have affected hundreds of others in the digital marketing space, with our message, and it all came from things that don’t scale.

So while you feel like you are pulling teeth getting people to use your product or tool, or visit your website, remember that any small number of them are going to be exponentially awesome for your business, and while you can try to figure out who exactly that will be, it takes less effort to just make them all feel like they are welcomed and they matter, because that is all we are looking for any way.

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