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The Startup Dilemma: Profitability or Growth?

Welcome entrepreneur, today we will tackle a controversial but essential topic for the future of your startup: Should you focus on growth or profitability? If you feel you are at a crossroads, you are not alone. We'll unravel this complex dilemma with expert perspectives y factors to consider.

First things first: What is a Startup?

According to Steve Blankone of the forerunners of the Lean Startup movementA startup is not a normal company, but a "an experiment designed to uncover a profitable, repeatable and scalable business model". Paul GrahamY Combinator's founder, Y Combinator, sums it up as follows simplest way: STARTUP = GROWTH.

What is the Right Cycle?

If your product or service is in its initial stagethe focus should be on creating value that retain users. From my perspective, the The ideal cycle in many cases would be:

Retention (Value) → Growth (Volume) → Monetisation (Profitability)

Focusing on growth without validating the value of your product can result in wasted resources.

Factors in Deciding Between Growth and Profitability

  1. Business Model: Depending on whether your startup is B2B, B2C or B2B2C, and whether your model is freemium, marketplace, etc., the decision on focus may vary.
  2. Long-term strategy: Are you looking to scale your business or are you happy with a "lifestyle" business? Your ambition will influence your decision.
  3. Personal Objectives: At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to achieve as a founder.

The Risk of Focusing only on Revenues

  • Diverts the focus on growth and value capture.
  • Generate reliance on short-term metrics.
  • You can compromising your position in markets with network effects.

What about Financing?

  • Focus on Growth: You will need sufficient capital to fund the losses until the investment starts to pay off.
  • Focus on Profitability: You will have more independence and adaptability, especially useful in uncertain times.

The decision between focusing on growth or profitability it is not black and white. You must make a detailed analysis taking into account several factors. The monetisation must be a strategic decision and happen when it makes sense, which is sometimes after the focus on growthand sometimes it is before.

We hope that this TIP has given you a clear perspective to take a informed decision. Remember, every startup is unique and the decision must align with your vision and circumstances.

Practical Examples: Growth vs. Profitability in Startups

The dilemma between focusing on growth or on profitability is a common challenge in the startup world. Below, we present two practical examples that illustrate when it might be more appropriate to opt for one strategy over the other.

  • Example 1: Niche E-commerce Platform (Focus on Profitability)
    • Situation: You have launched an e-commerce platform that focuses on sustainable gardening products. The market is of moderate size, and you have few competitors.
    • Key Factors:
      • Limited market.
      • Low competition.
      • Direct-to-consumer business model.
    • Best Strategy: In this case, focus on profitability early on might be the best strategy. Given that the market is of moderate size, there is no frantic race to capture market share. Moreover, being profitable allows you to finance your own growth at a sustainable rate.
  • Example 2: Social Application with Network Effects (Focus on Growth)
    • Situation: You have developed an innovative social application that allows users to share travel plans and find travel companions.
    • Key Factors:
      • Large and rapidly growing market.
      • High competition.
      • Model based on network effects.
    • Best Strategy: In this scenario, focusing on growth is crucial. You need to capture a large user base to trigger network effects that provide value to existing users y new. Delaying profitability is reasonable if you have access to finance and if the rapid growth is vital to outperform competitors.


The decision between focusing on the growth or profitability depends to a large extent on your particular situation: the market in which you operate, the nature of your business model and your personal and strategic ambitions. It is always crucial consider these factors before decide which path to take.

CASE STUDY: HealthTech360, from Growth to Profitability with MentorDay

Introduction: HealthTech360 is a startup in the health technology sector developing a telemedicine application. The company decides to participate in MentorDay's acceleration programme with the main goal of growing rapidly and capturing a large market share.

  • Stage 1: The Acceleration Programme
    At the beginning of the programme, the HealthTech360 team meets with their assigned mentoran expert in health technology with a decade of experience in the industry. After assessing the company's current situation, the mentor will suggests conducting a thorough analysis of the business model and key metrics to determine the best way forward.
  • Stage 2: Change of Strategy
    In reviewing financial metrics and projections, the mentor and the team discover that the company has a high customer acquisition cost (CAC) and a payback time that is too long. The mentor suggests that, before focusing on growth, it would be more prudent to focus on profitability to optimise these indicators.
  • Stage 3: Implementation
    HealthTech360 follows his mentor's advice and starts to:
    • Optimise your operations to reduce costs.
    • Implement premium features within the application for increase revenues.
    • Improving customer service to increase lto user retention.
  • Stage 4: Evaluation
    After six months, the CCS has been significantly reduced, on time to recover the cost of acquisition has been shortened. and the company has managed to be profitable.
  • Stage 5: Shift to Growth
    Now that HealthTech360 is profitable and has a stronger business modeldecides to return to his original growth strategy. It uses its profitability in order to finance a more aggressive marketing campaign. y to expand into new markets.

At less than one year since joining the MentorDay acceleration programme, HealthTech360 has not only become profitable but has also experienced significant growth. on the basis of users and in revenues.


The eflexible approach and expert guidance provided by his mentor enabled HealthTech360 to realise that the key to its long-term success was not simply growth, but a more balanced approach that included profitability as a fundamental pillar.. The result was a stronger companyprepared to to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.






Picture of Jaime Cavero

Jaime Cavero

Presidente de la Aceleradora mentorDay. Inversor en startups e impulsor de nuevas empresas a través de Dyrecto, DreaperB1 y mentorDay.
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