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Growing your startup is not (just) becoming a unicorn

One of the most important growth lessons for startups, no matter their size, is maintaining a constant learning mindset.

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Annie Spratt vía Unsplash

In recent years, Mexico has become a hotbed of entrepreneurs who venture to bring their ideas to life. According to Crunchbase there are about 600 startups in Mexico, of which four have achieved unicorn status. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico is experiencing a historic moment , but even after achieving millionaire investments and regional expansion, consolidated startups must continue to update and acquire new skills to sustain their development and guarantee constant growth. For a startup –even being a unicorn- , to continue its growth in a sustainable way, it is key to think about three themes: update, growth marketing and data-driven decision making.

One of the growth lessons The most important thing for startups, regardless of their size, is to maintain a constant learning mindset. A great example of this is Kavak, who in just four years managed to become the first unicorn in Mexico, and even after achieving this milestone, he maintains the motto " Every day is day one " for the business, a phrase that Joaquín, VP of Growth and Performance at Kavak shared with me. Consequently, for Kavak's team, having achieved a valuation of more than $ 1 billion is just the beginning of the road. Kavak is one of the eight companies selected for the first edition of the Google for Startups Growth Academy in Mexico, a six-week program designed for startups to develop an accelerated and sustainable growth strategy for their businesses and to stay updated on the new technologies and tools that they can take advantage of for their expansion.

Regardless of the miles traveled, startups always face multiple trial and error scenarios, which is why they have a data-based strategy to assertively decide which markets to expand into, which technological applications to implement and how to position their company against the competitors is critical. Deepening the expansion into new markets, one of the tools we use is to analyze practical cases, because although trial and error is important, it is also important to learn from others, especially for an internationalization process. One thing we recommend is testing hypotheses and variables with a structured framework to accurately understand the needs and behaviors of your potential customers, and then drive data-driven decision making. The advantage that consolidated startups have is that they have a long journey and it is rich in data that can give them the knowledge so that the next step is firm.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico is experiencing a historic moment. In the photo, Alejandro Guerra, CEO of Kavak MX / Image: Kavak

Connecting with the audience always makes you think about marketing issues, but when a business is already growing, what you should look for with growth marketing strategies is to attract new audiences, create engagement or connection with potential customers and retain consumers, but at scale. 74% of digital professionals have never applied growth marketing , and it has been shown that startups that do apply these skills can significantly outperform companies that lack them. In my team we witnessed this with Sanar, a health technology company that joined the 2020 generation of Growth Academy in Brazil. Sanar's team learned growth strategies such as acceleration cycles, the North Star metric, and behavioral economics, among others. These competencies helped them refine and optimize the customer experience, scale their product, and achieve a 30% reduction in CAC (customer acquisition cost).

Statistics show us that a strong growth strategy is a core competency for business sustainability, regardless of whether the startup is in the early stages of growth or is already a unicorn. It is important that companies, from emerging to internationally consolidated, take into account that what drives the spirit of startups throughout the journey is having a clear understanding of the needs of their clients, the resilience capacity to recalculate the route when necessary, and keep the growth mindset with which they started the startup at the center of their company culture.