Dear SaaStr: What Do You Do When Your Startup is Not Growing Anymore?

First, be honest about why.  You can blame it on macro issues if you want, but if growth has radically decelerated, it’s likely because you are less competitive than you were before. 

You probably have fallen out of product-market fit, partially or entirely.  Be honest.  And go close those feature gaps, and get back to being ahead of the competition — not behind.

More on that here:

When You Fall Out of Product-Market Fit (Updated)

Second, focus on the customers you do have and making them super happy.

I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. At least, patches where we weren’t growing fast enough. If you have a ton of money, yes, you can sort of spend your way out of it, to some extent.

But in the end, most of your customers will come from your existing customers. Via word-of-mouth, via referrals, via blog posts, via folks taking them with you to new jobs, etc.  Take a look at this chart from HubSpot on how it got to its first $1 Billion in ARR.  The #1 source of new customers?  Word-of-mouth:

Making your customers happier doesn’t instantly accelerate growth.  “B2B virality” is usually slow. It can take 9–12 months for one paid customer to lead to another paid customer. But it does work.

In fact, almost always if you have super happy customers you are delivering great value to.  So when you are out of ideas to grow, move your primary focus to growing your CSAT (customer satisfaction) and NPS (Net Promoter Score) metrics up substantially.  Measure them carefully, and set monthly and quarterly goals to drive them up.

This will be frustrating, because you won’t see the impact in just a few weeks.

But you will see an impact before the year is out, if you make your customers not just happy, but much happier than they were before.

Third, focus on metrics besides revenue that matter, and that you can grow right now.  Especially usage.

If revenue growth has slowed, at least get folks using your product more.  The more they use it, all things being equal, the more value they are getting.  The happier they will be.  And the more they’ll tell their friends to try you. But if usage plateaus?  That’s a red flag.  Even if other metrics seem OK.

More on that here:

In The Toughest Times, Grow Something That Matters. Even If It Isn’t Revenue.

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