How to Growth Hack.

This isn't just your average internet list of steps to take in a futile attempt at Growth Hacking. In my thousands of hours of reading online articles around entrepreneurship, I've found that many are written in a very vague way, understandably to apply to the large audience reading them.

Added to this, while very emotive, reading specific tales of entrepreneurs pulling some of the most spectacular growth hacks, such as Marc Köhlbrugge and Betalist’s rapid founding and succession to a feature by Techcrunch, doesn't quite give you a sure-fire way to find success of your own (although it can definitely help!).

In this post, I will try to outline how you can add a smart innovative process to testing and validating your ideas for experiments that can provide significant growth to your profile online, and your revenues. Alongside this, I’ll also try to provide some tips on how you can get your creative mind going to think of some pretty amazing ideas in the first place.

You don’t have to be Jesus to walk on water. (C) Ilya Todosov

Creativity and Imagination

Creativity is quite possibly the most valuable skill an entrepreneur can have. The ability to think of solutions to issues and new products, services and methods of monetization are essential to the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses every day.

While finding a way to hack growth for your company, getting your imagination going is essential. The only problem is, due to the fact everyone is different, we all have different ways of getting our imagination going too. I personally have a passion for reading about the beginnings of influential companies, and articles about similar things. After reading a good book (recommended read) I find myself spouting off new business ideas for weeks afterwards, and I find it to be an effective way of making me think.

But, as everyone is different, you may find watching documentaries on various issues, general internet browsing, or perhaps more specific forum browsing, and the many other things people can do to feel more creative (don’t forget about relaxing too!) can provide you with a good way to make you think.

Once you start thinking of ideas, it’s important to make sure you write them down. Whether it’s a series of word documents, lists on iPhones, drawings, mindmaps, written lists, or however you like to organise yourself, making sure you have a copy of the idea that can be archived and visited later can provide you with great chances to grow in the future (for your more ambitious plans perhaps).

I can’t tell you what your ideas will be, as nobody knows better than you. But by making sure you take some time to contribute to your creative processes, you will see a great improvement on how you do things.

Innovative Process — Testing & Experiments.

I have to admit, I’m a bit of an Innovation fanatic. I believe that by constantly changing the way we do things, we can make life a lot better for ourselves, and the people around us (customers, friends, family, employees etc).

While a student on the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, I was lucky enough to be given a chance to take a course on Design Thinking, created by IDEO. What I am about to write is basically a very simple and badly remembered version of what I learnt on this course, but I highly recommend that you look into doing one if you’re serious about innovation.

The fírst thing you need to do is really understand the challenge that you’re trying to take on. What your current position is, where you’d like to be, and what is stopping you from achieving that (alongside what could help you to achieve it). I know many people find market research to be very time consuming and only marginally productive, but done properly, it can be a great tool in deciding what steps to take and how best to succeed with what you do.

The second thing required of you is to put everything you thought of in the Creativity section into practice, and really get thinking about potential solutions to your problem. Don’t be afraid to think big, and try to leave out a massive marketing budget. The best ideas are often free, and just require a bit of thought and initiative. It could be anything from trying to befriend a journalist from an international news organisation, to sending out something small like balloons, or cupcakes to your entire town as a newsworthy gift. Get your ideas on paper, and you can decide on them later.

Once you’ve got a nice big list with some ideas you really feel could make a difference to your fortunes, you need to test them. Test them under 3 conditions;

1. The key concepts of each idea and how it will work must be tested individually, using multiple experiments to test different concepts of an idea.

2. These experiments must be done in a short period of time, ideally around 90 minutes.

3. Most importantly, the experiments must be done as cheaply as possibly, they’re experiments, and many experiments fail.

These experiments are also something you’ll have to get creative about, as you’ll have to find a way to prove that concepts of your ideas will work, which can be a challenge in itself. But there are plenty of standard experimentation tools you can use (things like surveys, and control conditions etc) to do this, and anything else you can think of.

Repeat this process until you’ve exhausted your list of ideas (that may have grown as you worked), proving some ideas completely unviable, and showing others to be great ideas that you can use to create your business’ first Growth Hack (often using several ideas in combination does the trick). The key thing to remember is that the design process never stops working, and you may find that many of your ideas will change and need to be revalidated in order to find the most effective way of growing your business. But don’t be afraid, by keeping experiments short and simple, you can stop it consuming too much of your valuable time.

So, Just a little recap on what I’ve talked about

  1. Understand the problem
  2. Generate ideas
  3. Test ideas quickly & cheaply
  4. Validate the key concepts behind your ideas

Failing that, you can always head over to my new Upwork profile and hire me to do it for you!

Either way, by taking a more scientific and data driven approach to your attempts to Growth Hack, you will often find more success and reward will come from your added time and creativity. From getting national media coverage to an interview with your hero, the investment of a small amount of your time can provide you with massive returns.