One of the first things you learn when you start on your entrepreneurial journey is that goal setting is critical. The first goals for many of us is to clean out our cubical and hand in our resignation. Achieving this goal is truly akin to getting a 1000 pound gorilla off your back. I know because I am coming up on the one year anniversary of doing this exact thing. But once you have done this, what’s next? What’s the next big goal you should work towards?
The most common answers I hear when I chat with other bootstrapping entrepreneurs are getting a product completed, getting the first customer, or getting to the point of replacing the old salary. However, in the times we live in, these three things are like getting a high school diploma. You know you have to do it, but you also know that for the average entrepreneur hitting these milestones is expected. You also know that for extraordinary people getting a high school diploma is not even a blip on the radar to achieving one’s dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, doing what you are suppose to do is admirable. However, as a bootstrapping entrepreneur your next goal after quitting your job must go beyond admirable. I contend that your next goal after quitting your job must be to create a viral referral loop for your business. In my post on the science of going viral, I describe the viral referral loop as getting your best customers to refer at least 3 people to your business every month/quarter/year (depending on the sales cycle of your business), and then get at least 50% of those referrals to do the same.
Achieving a viral loop in your business amounts to getting a PhD vs your competition who has a high school diploma. Following this analogy, when a extraordinary freshman in high school sets the goal of getting his or her PhD, what wakes them up in the morning is not the goal of getting a high school diploma. One realizes that you must get through the 4 years of high school along the way, but this amounts to a stepping stone and nothing more. Not to say you don’t celebrate every victory along the way, but as bootstrapping entrepreneurs we have to keep our eyes on the prize.
Getting your product completed, getting your first customer, or getting to the point of replacing your old salary are all great stepping stones that you should celebrate. But let’s be real, achieving these small victories along the way don’t guarantee that you won’t be asking your old boss for your job back one day. Creating a viral loop does.
When you create a viral loop, you can’t help but beat the competition. As I shared previously, the foundation to achieving this has two ingredients:
- Treat your customers noticeably better than your competition.
- Make your customers look like a hero in the eyes of the friends they refer
If you start this mentality with the very next customer you intereact with, everything else will take care of itself.