To build a successful and enduring company, you need more than just hype, publicity, or impressive fundraising skills.
Ultimately it all boils down to one simple principle: you must have a product that solves a pressing problem, and then the right amount of paying customers to make the math work.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Point Nine Capital, and it highlights five basic revenue models that startups can use to achieve $100 million in annual revenue.
The take home message here is that to build a long-term business, a team must implement a realistic strategy that considers multiple factors including product-market fit, user acquisition, pricing, and revenue per user.
Are you hunting flies, or are you trying to hunt elephants?
Just like in real life, these things require very different strategies and tactics. To build a $100 million revenue per year company, you’ll need to have a clear vision of your product-market fit and the customers you’re going after.
While the hunting analogy may be an oversimplification, it does help illustrate an undeniable truth to building large companies: how many users you will need depends on how much revenue you can earn per user.
This has implications.
If you are going to get $10 in annual ad revenue for each user, then you need a lot of users. If you’re going after Fortune 500 companies, you’ll need far fewer customers, but also a sophisticated and detailed sales strategy.
Flies – $10 per user x 10 million customers = $100 million in annual revenue
It takes a lot of flies to add up.
To build a big business with flies, you’ll need a product with a high viral coefficient (Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) that spreads your brand quickly and inexpensively. Alternatively, you can build a platform that allows for the creation of massive amounts of user generated content (UGC) such as Yelp or Reddit.
Mice – $100 per user x 1 million customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Mice are still pretty small, but the expectations are higher than for flies. To get $100 per user, these customers will have to be directly paying for something, like a $10 monthly subscription. Music-streaming company Spotify is a good example of a startup hunting for mice.
Rabbits – $1k per user x 100k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Once you hit rabbit territory, we are basically out of reach of B2C customers. That means to get 100k customers, they will likely have to be small businesses.
To do this, you’ll need a fantastic product, excellent inbound marketing, and an extremely high NPS (Net Promoter Score). The latter metric is used to measure the likelihood a customer would recommend you to their peers.
Deer – $10k per user x 10k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
We’re now getting up there in size – which makes it likely that deer have to be medium-sized businesses. These customers can afford to spend $10,000 per year, but expect a significant return on their investment.
While revenue per user is much higher than preceding levels, it is still not likely enough to warrant traditional enterprise field sales.
Elephants – $100k per user x 1k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Going after elephants is a totally different world, and requires a skilled sales force, patience, and an enterprise-focused approach. You’ll need to educate Fortune 500 companies on why they should spend $100,000 with you each year – and you’ll need to be able to back that all up with a killer product.
Software as a Service (SaaS) companies like Workday or Salesforce often use this kind of strategy, and it allows them to key in on the features that their most important clients want to see. As we noted in a previous infographic, investors love the predictable revenue stemming from a well-positioned SaaS company.
How to Take the First Steps in Scaling Your Business
What are the roadblocks to achieving scale? We look at these growing pains, as well as the steps needed to get past them in scaling your business.
How to Take the First Steps in Scaling Your Business
Most entrepreneurs are hungry to bring their company to the next level.
Whether they operate a family-run business or a rapidly evolving tech startup, there is always another milestone in sight. Business owners want to their companies to make an impact with their customers and communities, and they want to keep honing their craft.
But with 27.9 million small businesses in the United States alone, there is no shortage of competition for the same pieces of the pie.
How can you take steps in scaling your business, and do what your competitors are not willing to do?
Roadblocks to Scale
Today’s infographic comes to us from Brunner Consulting, and it breaks down common roadblocks to scaling as well as potential solutions to the problem of decision fatigue.
To begin, we’ll look at a poll of U.S. small business owners, which gives perspective on the challenges most often faced by companies with fewer than 10 employees:
- Profitability (50%)
- Hiring new employees (48%)
- Growing revenue (41%)
- Cash flow (38%)
Unless a business has deep pocketbooks or is venture-backed, there are several obstacles here that may prevent companies from scaling successfully.
A lack of profitability is an obvious limitation, but it’s also clear that revenue growth, cash flow, and adding new employees can be growing pains that may derail any long-term plans.
Why is scaling your business so challenging?
It’s because most types of businesses are not really scalable to begin with. The only sustainable way to scale for most companies is to grow revenue while decreasing operating costs, and for many traditional small businesses (i.e. bakeries, restaurants, hardware stores, consulting, etc.) this can be incredibly difficult.
Even if you come up with a scalable business model, there is yet another obstacle that can prevent your from growing the right way: decision fatigue.
In a growing and evolving company, entrepreneurs can’t do everything – and when they try to make every big and small decision, it affects the quality of those decisions. It can lead to being unnecessarily risk averse, maintaining the status quo, or even avoiding decisions altogether.
Scaling Your Business: First Steps
For a business to grow, there has to be more than one decision-maker.
There are two main routes to this:
1. Delegate Responsibility
In a typical small business, employees find and diagnose problems, while owners focus on solving them. However, by delegating these day-to-day decisions to employees, it frees up owners to work on the big picture items that can fuel growth.
2. Play to Your Strengths
Entrepreneurs can’t do it all, so it’s best to play to your strengths. To do this, outsource business departments that are outside of your wheelhouse. Often those may include things like bookkeeping, marketing, customer service, or website design.
Decentralizing decision-making is one of the first steps in scaling your business – and no matter how you do this, it frees you to focus on the big problems.
The World’s Best and Worst Places for Ease of Doing Business
In some countries, launching a business is easy. In others? It’s a hassle that is littered with bureaucracy, corruption, and a lack of basic services.
The Best and Worst Places for Ease of Doing Business
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
When it comes to supporting new businesses, not all jurisdictions are created equal.
Whether it’s the basics, like hooking up electricity and registering the business, or more complex regulatory hurdles, your location can impact the success of your venture in a big way. What makes a country business-friendly, and where are the most hassle-free places to open up shop?
The Ease of Doing Business ranking, by World Bank, breaks countries’ complex regulatory ecosystems down into quantifiable components. The resulting index and ranking system is a global look at who’s making it easy to do business, and which countries are struggling.
A Global View of Doing Business
The visualization below looks at the score (0-100) of 190 economies around the world, as well as a spread between high and low scoring factors in the subindices. While two countries may have the same score, one might have a much wider “spread” which points to outlaying successes or serious challenges in their regulatory framework.
Luxembourg, for example, ranked number one in the Trading Across Borders factor, but 173rd in Getting Credit.
Note: click the graphic below of the full list to expand to a higher resolution.
View a high resolution version of this graphic.
Of the 190 economies covered in the report, New Zealand comes out on top for the third year in a row. Singapore and Denmark round out the top three.
The United States, whose ranking has been slipping in recent years, came in at 8th spot.
This ranking offers up some surprises, such as Macedonia and Georgia, which are both in the top 10. Georgia makes it easy to start a new business, and has the lowest number of procedures to get the process going.
Afghanistan had the biggest year-over-year score increase after making big strides in enhancing the legal framework for businesses.
Rwanda is ranked at a very respectable 29th place – the only low-income economy to crack the top 50.
Building the Index
The data for the ranking is compiled from over 12,500 expert contributors in 190 countries who deal with business regulations on a daily basis. The final score is based on the average of 11 factors:
- Starting a business – Procedures, time, cost, and minimum capital to open a new business
- Dealing with construction permits – Procedures, time, and cost to build a warehouse
- Access to electricity – Procedures, time, and cost required to obtain an electricity connection for a new warehouse
- Registering property – Procedures, time, and cost to register commercial real estate
- Procuring credit – Strength of legal rights index, depth of credit information index
- Protecting investors – Indices on the extent of disclosure, extent of director liability and ease of shareholder suits
- Paying taxes – Number of taxes paid, total tax payable as share of gross profit, and hours per year spent preparing tax returns
- Trading across borders – Number of documents, cost, and time necessary to import and export
- Enforcing contracts – Procedures, time, and cost to enforce a debt contract
- Resolving insolvency – The time, cost, and recovery rate (%) under bankruptcy proceeding
- Labor market regulation – Flexibility in employment regulation and aspects of job quality
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