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Scaling Versus Scoring

September 6, 2007

Jason Calacanis has a very interesting new post up that talks about the tension between building out infrastructure to scale a business and introducing features that make people want to use your product/service in the first place.  Calacanis discusses it as the CEO wanting to announce cool new stuff while the CTO is not sure the infrastructure can handle the crush of people wanting to use the new feature—he uses Twitter as a possible example.

But I think this could be a post about the tension in general when you run a business—how much you promise vs. what you can deliver right now.  On the tech side, the question is whether your software/hardware will hold up.  But think about very non-techie businesses and a similar theme emerges. For example, a small ad agency pitches a big client, gets the work and quickly realizes it doesn’t have enough people to do the job.  In addition to the problem of finding the people,  there will be the issue of paying them, as the new project might promise mounds of money in the future, but will completely drain cash flow today. From the outside you see an agency that just landed a big client and is going places. From the inside you see an agency that might go broke before it ever gets the work done that would catapult it to a higher level of success.

It’s sort of the classic entrepreneurial bootstrap story—overpromise and then stress out on how to deliver. If you deliver, you get the rewards. If you don’t deliver, you’ve disappointed users/clients, and you might destroy your reputation before you even have one.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about being my own boss is that I no longer feel that dread on Sunday night that I have to work the next day.  I think the entrepreneurial tension is something that drives you to want to work, because it’s an exciting challenge, even if it’s more stress than might be healthy.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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