Saying no to potential customers can seem counter-intuitive especially for companies in the start-up phase, but it could be the key to scale.

A young entrepreneur came to us with a challenge. His product was market-ready and business booming, and yet he had put too much energy into creating a product that matched his incredibly high sustainability requirement. He hadn’t given enough attention about the best market fit. With growing demand coming from everywhere, he no longer felt confident about the next step. How would he manage between growth and mounting new opportunities for expansion?

In this case, the entrepreneur had designed a housing unit built entirely with sustainable materials, and its low-cost model was buyers from everywhere. From student housing, hotels, vacation parks, disaster relief sites, and hospitals, the potential seemed unlimited.

The focus became focus itself. By concentrating on each potential customer, you can design a journey and define your primary market based on size (specify the size, and go for biggest) and what feels most natural (who is closest to your mission?) Forget giving your attention to anyone, and really understand who will help you get to where you want to go. What are your goals, and what are the non-negotiables for who will get you there?  Who is the client best matches your customer needs and market segment? Who feels the most natural?

A shrewd move is to find the market segment that will get you to break even first, and leverage that revenue and momentum into the next segments.

Whether you go with your gut or with market data, the important thing is to choose. Not choosing is the worst option of all.