Jason Zook   ·   Behind the scenes   ·  

Why We’re Limiting Our Growth

“What’s your MRR, bro?” is the new “What do you bench, bro?”

For those of you not familiar, MRR = Monthly Recurring Revenue. For any software as a service (saas) product, MRR is how success is defined. Well, for most people.

You see, we’re a different bunch of grapes here at ofCourseBooks. We didn’t build ofCourseBooks under the guise of overflowing our bank accounts and retiring young (if we did, we’d charge a shitload more than $12/month – hah!) Zack, Paul, and myself simply enjoy the journey. We like the process. We get personal value and fulfillment in building things and watching people use them.

Let’s talk about our plans for growth and why we’re planning to keep ofCourseBooks small and nimble.

We’re a bobcat, not a lion

You know what you don’t have time for when you have to manage the support requests of hundreds of customers? Improving your product.

We want to make ofCourseBooks unbelievably easy to use and incredibly efficient. We want it to accompany your online course and make your course students rockstars. We want to be able to listen to our users and rapidly implement features they’re asking for.

The smaller we keep ofCourseBooks, the more agile we can be. The more decisions we can make without worrying about affecting too many people.

For the foreseeable future, we’re opening up monthly memberships in 50-spot chunks

Do the quick math and that’s $600 MRR if we sell all 50 spots ($12 x 50). The money is not the important part for us at the moment (especially with our expenses being ~ $100/month).

We’re only allowing 50 new people to sign up to ofCourseBooks at a time because we want to be able to give hands-on attention to everyone. If something breaks or goes wrong (which inevitably happens with a new piece of software), we’d rather have that happen with 50 people than 500.

And it’s not just about what goes wrong, we also want to help our users have success. We want to get feedback from them and see where we can provide extra value. We’re already planning on doing a few live workshops where Paul and I share our experiences launching and selling online courses that make great money. Sure, we’re selling a software product here, but one of our big underlying goals is to help course creators do a better job of having successful courses.

As Kathy Sierra says: “The answer doesn’t live in the sustainably successful products or services. The answer lives in those who use them.”

We want our users to be successful. We don’t just want to vacuum money out of their bank accounts once a month. And for that to happen, we need to keep growth manageable.

Limited growth means less overhead and less stress

One thing that a lot of companies with big MRR numbers don’t talk about is how stressed out they are and what their monthly expenses are.

If we keep our user base small and manageable, we don’t have to hire anyone. But if we add too many users, we’ll need to bring other people on. And what does bringing on other people mean? You guessed it — more expenses and more stress.

Right now our stress levels are extremely low. The longer they stay that way, the more time and energy we’ll have to make ofCourseBooks as awesome as it can be. No one makes awesome shit when they’re overrun with support requests and angry customers. Plus, the happier we keep our customers, the more willing they’ll be to share the great experience they’re having with ofCourseBooks.

We won’t be limiting growth forever

We’ll keep a clamp on the firehose as long as we need to. If we squash all the bugs and build all the helpful features, then we’ll open the floodgates. Maybe we’ll use even more water puns at that point too!

This is the beauty of building your own company. You make the rules. You call the shots. You grow and scale in ways that feel right to you.

By Jason Zook—who has more last names and t-shirts than you.

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