When To Do Things That Don’t Scale

June 30, 2023

And other industry disruptor tips.

Welcome to Practical Magic! A productivity and intentional living newsletter with quick, actionable tips that automate, delegate, or speed up your work.

Read time: 4 minutes

I attended a virtual event this past week by GOODLES CEO, Jen Zeszut called How to Be an Industry Disruptor and Zig When Everyone Else Zags.

(The main event was members-only through a group I’m in, but you can access the live QA on LinkedIn here.)

In the first few minutes, I learned that GOODLES was a mac & cheese company. (Apparently with a huge cult following so don’t come at me if you’re a goodler…) I almost left the event as the food industry isn’t my niche, but luckily I stayed as Jen gripped me with her view on why GOODLES is so different.

Their whole schtick is that they’re not for kids. They’re weird. They’re funny. They’re outspoken. And because of this, they have a community of raving fans that create UGC (user-generated content, aka free content marketing).

But what really stuck with me (as an operations nerd) was a slide dedicated to all the example of things they do that “don’t scale.”

See: hand-written notes, quirky gifts, funny email responses.

This got me thinking…

In a modern landscape that wants us to automate everything – from our business processes to our restaurant orders to our parallel parking – when does it make sense to do things that don’t scale?

Here’s my take from over a decade of leading operations (and constantly having to make that call).

3 Times to Do Things That Don’t Scale

1. You’re up against the big guys.

Bringing it back to our noodle-disrupting friends, GOODLES. You see – they are in a very well-established market. Annie’s and Kraft have run the mac & cheese game around these parts for decades – with billion dollar budgets and thousand-person teams. If GOODLES went in guns blazin’ with cute kiddie packaging and standard mac & cheese flavors, they would not be the success they are today.

A key point from Jen’s presentation: You can’t play ball with the big guys, so stop trying to be the big guys.

Instead, do things differently. If you’re doing something everyone likes, you’re not pushing the envelope enough. Figure out what your brand stands for – and be loud about it.

2. You’re in a crowded market.

This is a similar concept to above, but slightly different. Instead of competing against companies with billion dollar budgets, you’re trying to out-shine every business owner with a computer (i.e. everyone…).

For example, coaching and consulting was “niche” two decades ago, but now, everybody who’s earned a dollar has that title.

The playing field of resources may be more even, but the possibility of drowning in a sea of noise is very real.

Instead of being the noisiest or the cheapest, how can you be the most memorable?

What would make your customers want to tell their friends about you? At one of the companies I worked at, we had flowers hand-delivered by a sales rep when a customer experienced a death. Our sales rep happened to live in the same city and loved being apart of a unique experience.

Create a running list of ideas and try one out every month or quarter – even if for only one customer.

3. You’re young and fun and testing.

If you haven’t proven your idea or service, you’re going to need to try a lot of things that don’t scale.

In the book, $100M Offers, Alex Hormozi talks about the early years of his fitness business. At first, he would only accept clients who agreed to make meals at home because he found it too difficult to achieve goals if they ate out.

One day, a busy executive had this objection to why she couldn’t sign up for his training program. Instead of losing the sale, like usual, he offered to make her an eating out guide so she could eat out every day and still hit her goals. He closed the sale – and proceeded to close every other sale after that.

This was a lightbulb moment for him. For every sale, when he heard an objection, he provided a new solution to include in his package. He treated every sale like an opportunity to test what elements would make an offer “so good people feel stupid saying no.” (I highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t!)

Now, we don’t want to offer exceptions and disregard our boundaries just to close a sale. But the point here is that when we’re early on, sometimes we need to say yes until we gain the experience that validates when to actually say no.

Lastly, in all of the above scenarios, you can still systematize or automate processes that make it easier to deliver custom experiences. The key is thinking about unique opportunities within your customer journey to add more surprise and delight. Then create an SOP to deliver those experiences.

So, how can you be uniquely you?

Always in your corner,


Systems Strategist & Fractional COO

More Practical & Magical Finds ✨

Three things I’m reading, watching, or learning this week.

  1. 📺 How to Be an Industry Disruptor with GOODLES CEO
  2. 📖 $100M Offers: How to Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No
  3. 📻 This Lo-Fi playlist for dreamy morning focus.

If you implement any of these tips or learn something interesting, I’d love to hear from you! Just reply to this email or connect with me on social.

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