You are a Growth Hacker

That’s right. You are a growth hacker.

Essentially every business function can benefit from thinking about effective ways to grow (or optimize) their business line. The key question being… how do we implement a growth hacking mindset in the jobs we’re already doing? One quickly realizes that growth hacking is a mindset. Here are four themes that will help you develop your hacking practice.

Beginner’s mind

Maybe the most important thing you can do to be a great hacker is to approach your current business challenges with a childlike playfulness and discovery. You can do this framing questions with “how might we…?” or “what if…?” type questions. We are ultimately in pursuit of the ability to make fresh and new connections about our business that likely would not have surfaced otherwise.

Example questions:

“How might we use our channel partners’ to mitigate our business challenges?

“How might we tap into our customers’ intrinsic motivation to share our content or service?”

“What if our product was engineered as a growth machine?”

Everything is a test

Now that we have cleared the way for something new to show up it’s now time to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of being right. Let me repeat. We’re going to relieve you of the responsibility of always having to be right! How so? Simply, treat everything as a test.

Everything business decision can be seen through an a/b testing lens. We can go way beyond just testing CTA button colors and headlines. Don’t know if investors want more or less information? Test it. Want to improve your all-hands meeting? Test it. Having trouble hiring? Test it.

My hope is that you instill this experimenting mindset into your company culture, so that instead of people arguing over this or that someone yells “test it!” In doing so, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you spend less time making decisions. Moreover, by exploring the outer boundaries of a given problem, domain, or metric, you can free your experiments from misleading “local maximas” that can create artificial ceilings in your results. Take a look at the Javelin Validation and Experiment boards for testing tools and methodologies.

Challenge norms

Think like a rebel and be vigilant! In order to be an effective growth hacker, you have to wade into the unknown. The world is moving fast and technologies are changing faster than ever before. As one platform is rising in popularity, like Snapchat, another is dying, say Craigslist. We live in a constantly changing world of innovation with new digital channels constantly sprouting. Double-downing on new channels that contain your audience can be a gold-mine for those who invest the time and capital in understanding the new channel’s dynamics.

And don’t forget about offline and analog channels! These days almost everyone jumps to scalable, digital channels (there are many good reasons why), but I also see many entrepreneurs missing unique and valuable possibilities in traditional and offline marketing. Find new ways to merge offline and online activities to create new value exchanges not yet considered!

For a good outside-the-box example, check out the rise in “appreciation marketing,’ by reading this article by Joshua Fechter as an example of how to hack social media, your contact book, and so much more.

Other examples:

Uber: In the early days, it is purported that Uber faked supply by showing cars on the map that didn’t exist as a way to instill trust in those requesting a ride.

Airbnb: With a need to optimize their local reach, Airbnb created a Craigslist auto-posting bot that programmatically duplicated all Airbnb house posting on Craigslist. This was and still is against Craigslist TOS, but it worked.

Speed is your competitive advantage

In the startup world speed is everything. Speed is your competitive advantage against incumbents and bigger players. This is the one thing true across all startups, you are smaller, and therefore you should be able to move faster.

I think the lean startup methodology does a great job of demonstrating and defining how to build and iterate a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), but even still I think those concepts can be applied more broadly…

like speed and going FAST!

It wasn’t until Blueberry matriculated through the now legendary NFX Guild accelerator in early 2016 that I realized that speed was MISSION CRITICAL. In order to move fast, we have to change our baseline for how fast things should go, we call this our “speed bar.”

Ask yourself, ask your team, how fast are we going? Where can we go faster? Of course, fast does not mean careless. We work focused and deliberately, but we also celebrate mistakes and tests when they go wrong! Increase your learning cycles and you’ll get a leg up on the competition. Finally, you should be systematically benchmarking your data to identify where you can move the needle the most. And then stay laser-focused on these core KPIs. I also highly recommend using Zapier integrations to streamline and automate workflows, saving you an incredible amount of time and energy.

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