Growth Hacking Even for Businesses That 'Don't Want' to Grow
YouTube was launched in February of 2005. Less than two years later, it sold for $1.65 billion; and barely a decade after Mark Zukerberg began developing the idea for Facebook in his Harvard dorm, the site boasted a billion users.
Google, founded a mere 17 years ago, now dominates humanity’s consumption of online information.
WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion within five years of its initial release, having grown to nearly 500 million users.
In today’s tech economy, “growth hacking” -- the rapid launch of new products into the stratosphere -- is not only hot, it's all the rage. However, there is a whole subset of the economy that isn’t even remotely interested in growth hacking and is in fact trying to do just the opposite -- to limit expansion. For these businesses, the dilemmas are: to grow or not to grow? And if the answer is to grow, how much growth is good growth? How fast is too fast?
Practically speaking, most business owners aren’t trying to launch the newest Facebook. Sure, they want to make a lot of money, but they aren’t gunning for a multi-billion dollar IPO -- just to make a great living and maybe see their families sometimes. They’re wary of expansion because they’re afraid they won’t be able to handle the workload.
What they don’t realize, however, is that “overexpansion” is a myth. It isn’t possible to overexpand. The problem is underorganization, which can be deadly. So, if you want to grow a company, you have to be able to manage that growth. Companies can grow as big and as fast as they wants, so long as they're organized to handle growth, and so long as their business owners are wicked good at organization.
Here are five tips for how owners can make themselves that way.
1. Know how to do it yourself.
In order to run a company, know exactly how to get clients and deliver your products or services. If you don’t, then stop right here. You can’t systematize what you don’t understand. The first step of expansion is to figure out the business yourself -- to work it, iterate it and try things out until you have confidence in your ability to sell and deliver the goods in your industry.
2. Analyze your systems.
Once you know what you’re doing, identify your systems. Look at the steps you take to gain clients. Analyze the processes you use to deliver products or services. You’ll see certain commonalities. Write them down and evolve them. Over time, you’ll come up with the exact steps you should take to win new clients, deliver a project, do payroll, etc. These are your internal business systems.
Related: The 4 Secrets to a Successful Pivot
3. Create job descriptions for everyone.
Now that you understand your systems, you can rapidly hire and deploy additional team members. However, to do this, they each have to know how they fit in. What does the receptionist do? What’s the fastest road to success for a new member of the sales team? What is the daily routine of a project manager? Job descriptions allow each person to rapidly understand his or her place in your overall system.
4. Create simple training protocols.
It’s easy to get frustrated at new employees. They make stupid mistakes and can’t seem to understand what they’ve been told. However, remember that nobody is telepathic. New employees have to learn your particular way of doing things. This requires an organized approach to training: a gradient system for increasing employees' knowledge, which regularly certifies them for higher levels of competency.
5. Hire the right people.
The wrong employee won’t work out no matter what you do. The right one will part the clouds, streaming possibility and hope on to your company. If you’ve analyzed your systems, created job descriptions and trained your staff, your employees should be able to get results -- not just talk a good game. Don’t hold on to people who can’t get it done. This might seem cold-blooded, but we’re talking about your life and your dreams, right? The route to success involves having an incredible team. The right people are out there; keep looking until you find them.
6. Use metric-based decision making.
It’s easy to get swept away into wishful thinking or swayed by the opinions of others. But make a conscious effort to keep it scientific. The only real guarantee of sustained growth is to be humble enough to look at the numbers and see what’s working in the real world. Make decisions based on a dispassionate analysis of your metrics. Iterate, yes. Pivot, yes. But do it scientifically, using evidence instead of opinion.
We live in an age of unprecedented possibility. With technological advances on the horizon, we’ve barely glimpsed the future. The world needs solutions to problems it hasn’t even yet encountered. It needs new ideas and better ways of doing things.
You are an indispensable part of that future. Your success matters. Dream it. Build it. Grow it.
How? By getting organized.