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So, you want to grow your audience, right? You’re looking at people with bigger audiences, you’re wondering how they got there, and what they know that you don’t. Maybe you’ve even tried to replicate what they do out of hopes that it will grow your audience.

But the problem with copying people who are further along than you is you’re not leveraging your unique advantage. That advantage is being small.

I know that doesn’t really sound like an advantage because that’s exactly what you don’t want, right? You’re trying to grow, you want to get bigger, but:

Being small is your unique advantage because you can afford to do the unscalable things.

What do I mean by the unscalable things? Well, scalable things are automated systems, automated messages, or automated order fulfillment.

When you look at the bigger guys, you might be tempted to try to imitate that. You might say, “Well, if I want to get big, what are the big guys doing? They’re automating things, so I guess I should automate things.”

For example, you can add personal touches to every order you get. You could write a personal, hand written note to each and every person that orders form you, but why would you not do this? In the beginning, you wouldn’t do it because you think, “When I get more orders, I can’t sustain this. Once I get 10, 20, 100 orders a day, I can’t write hand written notes to every single person. It’s just not sustainable. It’s not scalable.”

Unscalable Things Take You to the Next Level

What many people don’t realize is it’s doing the unscalable things that’s actually what takes you to the next level. Doing the things like the hand written note is going to make a difference with your customers and when they have a great experience, they’re going to pass that along to others.

They’re going to tell other people, “Hey, I ordered this product from this company and I got a hand written note from the founder. How cool is that?”

People get caught up in automating when really they should be investing in the people, customers, and audience they already have.

You should be making their experience great so that they tell other people about you. Eventually, you can’t reply to every YouTube comment, you can’t respond to every email, every tweet, every message that you get.

While you’re at this scale, while you’re small, you should take advantage of that, reach people, and make those personal connections. This is what so many people don’t do. They get so caught up in trying to be big and imitating people who are further along than they are that they don’t take advantage of being small.

The fact you can respond to every message you get is going to be how you create those ambassadors. The people you have now can be your ambassadors if you invest in them. You invest in the experience, they share that experience with other people, and ultimately that’s how you grow.

You don’t grow by copying the automated systems of people who are further along than you.

What are some things you could do now? What are some things that aren’t scalable? What are things that if you had 20 times the volume you do now—20 times the orders, 20 times the products—that you couldn’t do at scale, but right now would delight the audience or clients you have? Use the availability you have now to create great experiences for people.

Ultimately, the way you grow is going to be word-of-mouth and investing in people. It’s not the automated systems. It’s not the automated messaging and things that you build that streamline your processes, it’s the people.

You have to invest in the people you have now because they become your ambassadors, and they’re how you’re going to get to the next level.