Community and Intention
Apr 21, 2016, updated Feb. 18, 2021
When you start a startup, one thing that is hard is deciding what to do. There are so many pieces of advice and so many paths to success that it's hard to elect what to do. When I meet other entrepreneurs, I always use a simple framework to adapt what I way: whether a company is a community-driven business or an intention-driven business.
Community-driven businesses are companies benefitting from a recurring usage of their community by building a habit. Let's say you do a meal delivery service. You will want your users to order often and be part of their eating habits. This is typically a community-based business because its success is based on people using the service regularly and talking about it to their friends.
In such case, what’s crucial is to have people coming back over and over again. If you’re launching this kind of business, your one and only goal should be… gathering a community that like your product enough to a) use it often and b) talk about it to their friends.
Often, these business start in the simplest way. It can be Instagram pages, Facebook Groups… Social is important because being part of the life of your users is just like being a friend to them: you want them to think of you often.
It's more work than it sounds because finding an idea that have impact is extremely difficult in itself, but meeting your users expectations is even harder. The good thing is that, if you succeed, your customers will be your natural ambassadors.
On the contrary, intention-driven businesses are companies that customers use on specific occasions or which goods are substitutes to others. Typically think of a locksmith. You're not going to call one every day (at least I wish you this!), but when you need one, you open Google and search.
From the locksmith's perspective, that means their retention rate is hard to measure because people use them on very specific occasions and they must constantly find new leads.
The idea here is to find one constant stream of leads where you can then sell your service or your product. To find this stream you have to understand a) where are your users (target) and b) when it’s the right time to talk to them (moment). The combination of the two will give you a place, a.k.a., a network of people from which you can grow.
These two types of businesses call for two different strategies: whether you should focus on growing by referral (community) or through efficient acquisition channels (intention).
Of course, it's never black or white and you will do a little bit of both. However, never forget which one is the most important for you.