Incremental or Exponential Thinking: Down and Dirty on the Gamechanging Shift

Smart SaaS business owners are constantly looking for new ways to grow their company. At least, they should be. This doesn’t mean looking for the new shiny object that everyone is currently trying out, but rather it’s about how to stand out from the crowd. It’s not about how to beat out your competition, but how to make them irrelevant. The answer may not be what you think. The answer is actually in how you think. Do you have an incremental mindset or an exponential one?

Incremental Growth Mindset

Most business owners, as well as individuals, have an incremental mindset–meaning that they see a very clear path on the steps they have to take to get from point A to point B in a linear manner. Each step builds upon the one before it.

In terms of marketing, using an incremental growth mindset approach might include a product awareness strategy, such as marketing ads, that lets you slowly build a user base that increases daily in smaller numbers–while your marketing spend increases as you work to acquire those users.

There isn’t anything wrong with this way of thinking. Chances are high that it has helped you get where you are today. However, real success is going to come from making the shift and starting to think more exponentially.

Exponential vs Incremental Growth Mindset

The Remarkable Effect
If you’re eager to up your game with exponential thinking – read my book the Remarkable Effect (especially chapter 5: Create new value possibilities.

Harvard Business Review put it best: “The incremental mindset focuses on making something better, while the exponential mindset is makes something different. Incremental is satisfied with 10 per cent. Exponential is out for 10X.”

Exponential thinking for your business could involve focusing on improving a current product to deliver exactly what your customer base wants and needs–and then some–exceeding expectations in a way no one else in your industry is doing or has done. It is looking at how to make a vertical leap in growth. It isn’t necessarily wanting to just jump farther, but substantially higher and quicker.

Four Steps to an Exponential Thinking Shift

  1. Generate Ideas – Ideas are key to growing your business. If you don’t have any, talk to your partners or even employees. Reach out to your customer base and get an idea of what they think. Diversity matters.
  1. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone – you know the old saying: “nothing changes in the comfort zone.” Apple is a prime example of business owners that stepped out of their comfort zone. If they hadn’t, it would still be two guys in a garage. Exponential mindsets require you to embrace change and the unknown.
  1. Practice Patience – Another way to phrase this is to “face the fear.” Anytime you embark on something new, there is fear that seeps in because you are not seeing the results you want as quickly as you want. Microsoft did not go from the BASIC programming language for the Altair 8800 to the Surface Pro overnight. It took over 40 years of exponential thinking.
  1. Make Exponential Decisions – from now on, for every decision you make, ask yourself this question: “When will I profit the most from this, today or down the road?” Exponential decisions are going to provide you greater long-term success. It isn’t about 100 new users tomorrow; it is about a 1.000.000 users in the next two years. What do you need to do to make that a reality?

True success lies not in shiny new objects or the latest, greatest online marketing trend. True success comes from changing the way you approach your business and your life, and by changing the way you think. Make the shift from incremental thinking to a more impactful exponential thinking mindset for growth and success.

How to free up time in your business to leverage exponential thinking?

The easiest way. Simply book a free call to explore if there’s a fit to do this together.

Otherwise – here are 5 other options


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.