Maximum Impact, Minimum Reach
"Is is better to be all things to all people, or everything to one person?"
There's been so much talk, especially amongst the tech elite, about "helping a billion people." This path may fulfill a goal of making a billion dollars, gaining status, etc, but what are you helping a billion people with?
What's the real IMPACT you can have on a billion people?
1 billion people rarely have the same problem. And if they do, its likely to be a surface level problem (check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Of course there are some "billion people problems" in the world that need addressing (3rd world poverty, proper access to healthcare and disease prevention).
I'm not saying that people should not solve these problems. What I am saying is that there are far more people screaming to be creative and entrepreneurial than there are billion people problems. So, we need to promote the balance to encourage people to break out and solve more problems.
Since people are complex, layered and nuanced, there are actually billions of problems that just a small number of people have. Where you can find complex problems, you can find maximum impact, charge a premium and you can have a good business serving a few key people and minimize external pressures that come from "having to get to scale."
Scale vs. Impact
By definition you can not have max scale and max impact - there are tradeoffs. In the beginning of a company, focus on impact is the most effective way to find a burning problem and develop a customer - not scale.
When you scale, you will lose some impact (because a product can't be all things to all people). The trick is to find the optimal level where product impact holds for a large enough like group of people to support a business in a healthy manner.
"Scale" is not the objective at this stage. And pursuing growth (scale) especially on someone else's timeline can be problematic.
Scale A Product, Impact a Human
In a company, you have to scale a product to meet an extrinsic goal - make sure its your goal and not someone else's goal on someone else's timetable.
But in life, when you impact humans you get an undeniable intrinsic reward of seeing those people grow into something they weren't before. You can't do this for a billion people, but the impact of a few key relationships can have a huge impact on your entire life.
I design my life to target a small number of people for maximum impact. That goes for my family and the people I choose to work with.
To impact a human, you have to be there. You have to invest in conversations, coaching and empathy.
The people who I surround myself with are people that I choose to surround myself with, that I have a special loyalty to, and who share an agreed upon, unspoken code.
We don't have to speak the code, because we live it, and that's why we have IMPACT.