GTM 5: Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

GTM 5: Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

For many startups, growth is the ultimate goal. But sustainable growth is key to success in the long run. So how do you achieve it?

Many startups cave in to the pressure of growing too big too fast. They spend so much time and energy hiring and training and ramping people up, throwing the things they actually need to do, like figuring out their product market fit, positioning, and knowing their ideal customer profile to the backburner. It’s no surprise that many startups have terrible customer retention and don’t succeed.

In this episode of the GTM Fund Podcast, we are joined by Kyle Norton. Kyle was the VP of sales at Shopify, and now is the SVP of Sales at Owner.com and a super-active Limited Partner of GMT Fund. 

Compared to trying to get so much done in little time, Kyle demonstrates how taking things slow while maintaining focus, patience, and prioritization will lead to more sustained success in the long term.

You’ll also gain insight into

  • Whether or not the e-commerce sector is a good place to put your money right now.
  • Why it’s important to take care of your physical and mental health even as your startup expands
  • How to disagree with higher-ups in a way that fosters understanding and growth

Episode Highlights

(02:48) Introducing Kyle Norton

(03:24) Kyle’s transition from big tech to startup

(05:28) Kyle’s take on the state of ecommerce SaaS today

(9:19) How to start a company without getting out-innovated by a big player

(12:50) Kyle’s career story and what he would do different 

(13:28) Why you should prioritize your physical and mental health

(15:20) The need to be mindful of where you will scale

(16:10) How moving slow drives sustained growth

(19:10) Why you must be honest with your metrics

(20:53) How to build a strong business foundation

(21:46) The differences in goal setting and growth between big tech and startup

(26:17) Learning to disagree well

(36:59) How to determine the makeup of your sales hire

(45:56) Summary of Kyle’s career learning

Quotes

If you take a longer time view and look at that linear growth, it’s still an amazing time to start a DTC brand or a software company.

There’s so many opportunities for companies to solve problems for businesses…

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

…rushing and trying to do too, too many things too fast actually distracts you from doing the things that are really important to drive sustainable rapid growth, which is the foundations.

How can you necessarily think about the business holistically and long term if 50% of your comp is tied up in in very short term incentives?

Slow is smooth, as smooth is fast. Slow, being focus, patience, prioritization, will help you go faster in the long run versus scrambling around to do way too many things.

Just having a relentless focus on reading, listening, networking, having a mentor, having an open mind about things and trying to try to take ideas and concepts and patterns and mental models from wherever you can find them, and applying it to your own business—that’s ultimately what’s going to determine personal and company success. It’s your ability to grow and learn.

Links and Resources

‘You can’t say that!’: how to argue, better, An article by Adam Grant

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, a book by Adam Grant

The GTM Podcast

Don’t miss The .GTM Podcast dropping every Tuesday, discussing true stories and experiences including trials and tribulations in the Go-To-Market world.

And…monthly bonus podcast episodes dropping the first Thursday of every month.

Before helping found GTMfund, Scott spent 4 years at Outreach as Director of Strategic Engagement. He was in charge of aligning key relationships with VCs, BoDs, ecosystem partners and community members to drive revenue and strategic initiatives across Outreach. Scott initially ran revenue/partnerships for Sales Hacker (which was acquired by Outreach in 2018). Prior to Sales Hacker, he led and built outbound Business Development teams at Payfirma and MediaValet. Scott also advises for a number of high growth start-ups and is the host/author of The GTM Podcast and The GTM Newsletter. At GTMfund, Scott leads all fundraising efforts and runs the media arm of the firm. He’s also responsible for assessing investments, team management, LP/community relationships and GTM support for founders.

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