Get your hands dirty, put the hours in and watch your startup grow. By Jayna Cooke (CEO, EVENTup)
All entrepreneurs know the importance of going from zero to 100 miles an hour on a near empty tank of gas, especially in the early phases of a startup. This concept – driving growth in the leanest way possible – is called growth hacking and successful companies like Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox all leveraged this technique in their early days.
When I became CEO of EVENTup, growth hacking was a key strategy of mine and I learned a few simple, valuable tactics that can be applied to nearly every industry.
Talk to Everyone
Think of every friend and contact as an idea generator and sounding board. Unlike those with “skin in the game”, your closest friends and colleagues will give you unwaveringly honest feedback and critique. Bouncing ideas off of those close to you will also give you practice presenting your story.
Caveat: while you want to collect feedback from as many people as possible, you are in no way obligated to make every change they propose! Just listen and pay attention to any patterns.
Get Your Hands Dirty
In the cash-strapped startup world every dollar counts, meaning you are going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Every weekend spent addressing envelopes and cleaning up spreadsheets pays off.
Not only will it help you understand every aspect of the business but also it will show your employees that no job is too small or insignificant.
Test then Go Big
Test every product tweak on a small subset of customers before making permanent changes. I have a few customers I know I can ask to test new features and who will consistently give me honest feedback.
It is always better to spend the time testing than risk making a negative impression on a new client. Testing different strategies allows you to quantify results. Make sure you are testing many different forms of delivery (i.e email, mailers, PPC, etc).
Embrace the latest technology. There are new platforms rising up every day that enable businesses to reach large numbers of people in short periods of time. Ebay, Craigslist and Odesk are just a few. 78 percent of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Engaging with social technologies not only extends your reach but also it provides yet another way to solicit feedback from your current customers.
Social media is a great way to get in front of an audience, make sure you are doing it in a way that is authenticate to the consumers you are trying to reach. The content of what you are putting out there needs to be targeted and narrow enough to gain interest in the sector you are targeting.
Apply the ROI Measurement to Every Task
If it isn’t going to yield a strong return, don’t do it. Before devoting time to a project, evaluate the desired outcome and prioritize it accordingly. In addition to the ROI, ensure every task positively contributes to the overall picture and direction of the company. This piece should stay constant in everything that you do for the company.
Once you continue these exercises they will turn into habits and become second nature. Managing a startup company can be hard work but once you apply the right practices it will pay off exponentially.
How are you achieving growth in business?
Photo credit: Zeljko Radojko via Shutterstock.
About the guest blogger: CEO and Partner at EVENTup, Jayna Cooke is distinguished as being one of the successful sales and business development professionals in technology startups over the past decade. Growth hacking and “just getting it done” are her specialties. In 2012 she started her own 501.c.3 foundation, Closet Angels.