Pains of Scaling Up — Crossing the Chasm

Published on
November 3, 2022
Jack Williams
Head of Business Development
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From small start-up to global scale-up, growing a young, relatively unknown company can be filled with hurdles.

When introducing a new product to the market, it goes through several stages of customer adoption.

First, it gets in the hands of the innovators, which comprise the first 2.5% of the group to adopt a new product. Then it progresses to the early adopters who make up 13.5% of that market. To the right are the early and late majority adopters, both at 34%, respectively. Finally, the last 16% are the laggards.

In between each phase of this cycle are cracks representing the difficulty “any group will have in accepting new products and ideas if it is presented the same way as it was to the group to its immediate left”. The largest of these cracks — a.k.a. The Big Proverbial Chasm — resides between the early adopters and the early majority.

The technology enthusiasts and visionaries to the left of this chasm are the early adopters: the ones who are quick to embrace newer products in service of the dream and vision behind them. However, they do not exactly generate enough income to catapult a business into greatness.

The mainstream adopters to the right of the chasm are the pragmatists, conservatives, and sceptics. They are the ones who pay extra attention to the company they are buying from, the quality and reliability of the products and services they are paying for, and the integrity of the supporting infrastructure they are going to get.

Their attitude toward a company’s product will play a crucial role in determining its success.

They are more than happy to shell out cash if they know a product or service can make their lives infinitely better. In short, mainstream adopters are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are the reason why entrepreneurs work so hard to cross the dreaded chasm.

Crossing the chasm is where many — if not, most — high-tech enterprises fail. Why?

One reason we can think of is that majority of businesses are sales-driven instead of market-driven.

What sets market-driven firms and sales-driven firms apart is how they define success in terms of primary goals and timelines, as well as strategies put in place to achieve them.

Sales-driven businesses are more concerned about strategies and objectives in the short term. If you are an entrepreneur looking to grow your business to more than one market and stay competitive for the long haul, this might not be enough.

Market-driven enterprises, on the other hand, develop activities, products, and business strategies around what their target customers want and need. They still put weight on generating short-term revenue to fund existing operations and make a profit, of course. However, they also focus on allocating time and resources in developing products and services that can attract consumer interest for the long term.

These businesses know that different adopters — particularly those on the right side of the chasm — refer to each other’s opinions and experiences when choosing products and services. In other words, to gain the trust of the main income-generating adopter categories, businesses need to put elbow grease on generating buzz or word-of-mouth for their products or services.

To successfully cross the chasm, focusing on markets is the more effective and sustainable path forward. Here are four ways to do that.

1) Set Your Sights on One Market

Dominion over one kingdom is better than barely scratching the surface of several.

Focusing on one target market empowers businesses to efficiently identify factors that will inform their next moves. This includes customer pain points, competitors, potential partners and allies, distribution channels, pricing options, and possible future customers.

2) Develop an All-Encompassing Product

Using insights on customer pain points, entrepreneurs can now focus on developing complete products that cater to their target market’s every want and need.

By creating a whole product that seeks to solve all consumer problems and significantly make their lives easier, entrepreneurs can give their customers a compelling reason to choose them over competitors.

3) Focus on Becoming a Market Leader

Entrepreneurs must clearly define who they are up against if they want to successfully differentiate their products from theirs.

To do this, marketing efforts should showcase all the ways target customers’ lives will be made better if they choose their products and services over the rest.

Providing robust case studies, gathering testimonials from past and present satisfied customers, etc. — anything that demonstrates the validity of a business’ claims in order to establish that they are truly the indisputable market leader.

4) Distribute, Distribute, Distribute

Choosing the right distribution channel is a vital decision for businesses. This choice determines how products are handled, how fast they are delivered, and how successful they are at getting goods into the hands of consumers.

To choose the right channels, it is important to carefully consider competitors. What are they using and why? Is it more beneficial than others or are there better, more cost-efficient alternatives? Will it be able to scale with the business as it grows?

The most important thing entrepreneurs can do when choosing a distribution channel is to not select a provider or channel simply because it is the “industry standard” or the cheapest and most convenient.

Carefully considering all options helps uncover hidden disadvantages, overlooked advantages, or new avenues of reaching customers in the most cost-efficient and innovative ways possible.

Focusing on one market at a time, creating an all-encompassing product, establishing market dominance, and finding the right distribution channels can most definitely make a difference in a business’s long-term goals.

Once market dominance is established, entrepreneurs can then use their success in one market as a springboard to adjacent extended markets. However, all these can be easier said than done.

As a growth consultancy, our team of scale-up specialists know that crossing the chasm is no small feat. However, with the right guidance and support, entrepreneurs can make it happen.

On that note, we at BeingIconic have a team of experts who have successfully helped businesses from all industries in crossing the Big Scary Chasm in the shortest time frame — with as little wasted resources as possible. Partner with us today if you want us to do the same for you.