What Does It Look Like When Your Startup Pursue Multiple Markets Before You Are Ready?

5 min read

This is especially true for post-revenue and funded companies.

Your marketing efforts and dollars stretch way too thin to create any meaningful impact. Your positioning is blurry. Your messaging watered down. Your SEO has to cover way more topic clusters.

Your sales are forced to sell to the wrong ICP. Sales process is undefined because your reps realize that different market require different GTM playbook. They under-achieve and didn’t get their commission - and leave. The offers don’t work. Pricing is mismatched to the wrong ICP.

Your product is a mixed bag of features catered for different markets. You are getting requests for API integration from different market players. Heck, the critical features for the core market still hasn’t even being built yet! Your product vision gets convoluted with other “priorities”. You found out too late that the product is the CEO’s pet project.

Your ops are constantly reacting, firefighting the problems that come from doing “important” things. People lack of focus. They over-stretch and burn out. You end up hiring for multiple roles to take care of different markets - and become bloated, slow, and dysfunctional too quickly.

People get moved to different roles out of their will because the role-market they are hired for don’t pan out. People lose their will. As a result, high churn as a result and bad press from bad Glassdoor reviews. It’s now shoved as the HR problem.

Your North Star either don’t exists or become a moving target. Functional and individual KPIs are constantly set. But they don’t stick long anyway because people just forget about them. Your metrics are questionable because there are multiple markets with conflicting measures to consider.

Your finance? You asked the CFO to perform some creative accounting and make the P&L and balance sheet look good in the midst of chaos - just for the sake of telling a story that you got it under control and growing in different market.

Without market focus it’s highly probable that you are never going to get strong market fit for any market.

Conquer the first market and get PMF, then repeat it with the adjacent market - with the same product, not an entirely new feature set.