I’m at the first ever MicroConf in Las Vegas being hosted by Rob Walling and Mike Taber. The first day of speakers was incredible and I’m eagerly looking forward to the second. My mind is reeling and it’s going to take me a while to digest all the concepts thrown at us. I could never capture even a fraction of the content sent our way, but I thought I would share a key idea that resonated with me from each speaker.
Andrew talked a few times about dropping the things that aren’t working. Each feature you add to a product doesn’t necessarily add value to your product, but they will add maintenance costs and complexity. Run metrics on all your features, try them, and if they aren’t working take them out.
Sean blew my mind with his concept of a framework for building a startup. A key concept of his framework is a pyramid with a base of product/market fit, a middle improving the efficiency of conversion, and a final upper step of scaling. Asking your users “How would you feel if you could no longer use [Product]?” is an effective gauge of when you are ready to move to the next step. Unless greater than 25% say they would be “very disappointed”, you should keep working on your product market fit.
I was really impressed with Rob’s understated poise and energy on the stage. There are several of his ideas which really resonated with me, but I found his concept of hamster wheels vs. flywheels interesting and something I’m going to think about more. The basic premise is that you should try and focus on doing things which will keep their own momentum like flywheels (or recurring payments) instead of things which require a constant effort like hamster wheels (or one-time payments).
Mike’s talk included many lessons learned the hard way from his own experience. One of his warnings was to be wary of taking on operating expenses which are difficult or costly to get rid of (for example office leases), because you can find yourself stuck with them if your revenue stream dries up and end up on a downward slide.
Marcus’ talk similarly covered many of the lessons he learned from his own experiences building a .NET based shopping cart business. His story warned against ramping up staffing just because your revenues ramp. Adding staff doesn’t mean you’ll have more time, and doesn’t automatically mean more sales. Get the sales first, then hire the staff.
Noah made us all shut our laptops, but I had a notebook and pen along so I could still take some notes. One of the ideas that he’s implemented at AppSumo is requiring anyone who comes forward with a problem to bring a solution with them. This is one of the strategies he uses to work towards enabling everyone to act as a CEO and make decisions in the interest of the business.
Update: My highlights from the second day can be found here.