Fueling Success: Five Tips For Hyper Growth (Courtesy Lessons Learnt At Google And Pharmacy2U)
While the journey to achieving hyper growth can be exhilarating, it also entails walking a fine line- how do you scale up quickly without killing the secret sauce that has brought you to where you are?
The holy grail of achievement for most startups is hyper growth. But while the journey to get there can be exhilarating, it also entails walking a fine line- how do you scale up quickly without killing the secret sauce that has brought you to where you are? What is the roadmap to follow to deliver the high growth you are looking for? As someone that has invested in many startups and worked for brands like Google and Pharmacy2U that have seen hyper growth, here are the top lessons I've learned from my work in the past 15 years:
1. Know your customer- and understand the progress they are trying to make in their lives It is essential to know what it is going to take to be relevant to your customer, and how you can provide real benefits to them. Your value exchange must be high, so make sure you do the research and sit for a while in their shoes. Too often, businesses are not in touch with their customers' pain points and anxieties, what is pushing them away from their current solutions or lack of, and what the pull points could be towards their products.
To get into the mind of your customer, interview them. When do they need your product, and for what purpose would they want what you can offer? Understand where they are, and what their considerations are around your product or service vertical. A great tool to use is Clayton Christensen's Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework- it stops you from seeing the customer like a strict "persona," and let's you start seeing the outcomes they are looking for instead.
2. Define the moment you deliver value- and optimize to that north star metric Understanding your customer will enable you to define what will deliver maximum value, as well as what will make your product or service more worthwhile than your competition or alternatives. Now, we need to define the moment value is delivered. For example, for Airbnb, that may be the number of nights booked; for Spotify, minutes listened to.
This is what Sean Ellis has named the North Star metric. The North Star metric is not a revenue metric- revenue is only the output. Define what your metric is, and optimize your team's efforts to deliver towards it. The North Star metric is the ultimate focus for all your business strategy that the full team can rally around.
3. Develop benefit-led messaging You want to build a brand that brings to life the difference you are making in the world and people's lives. One of the ways to achieve this is to be direct and clear in communicating what your product allows your customers to do. You are not just selling them a drill, for example, you are selling a product that will allow them to hang a heavy mirror safely, so that it does not fall and injure their children.
Make sure your messaging both communicates how you deliver their desired outcomes (not a list of features), and alleviates any anxieties they might have giving your product or service a try. Understand the triggers for your customers, and then go and find them in these moments; you are more likely to convert them then. At Pharmacy2u, we realized that one of the best times to speak to our audience was in the waiting room at the general practitioner's practice, and so, we started advertising on the walls of surgeries.
4. Get the right people on your team- and create an empowering culture Hiring is one of the most critical elements to your business success. Because hiring takes quite some time, I have learned that hiring slightly ahead of your needs (if you can afford it) can help you keep momentum, and, in some cases, outpace the competition. There are key tips to bear in mind here- for starters, hire the right fit for the stage of growth your company is in. Hire people who can replicate at your business exactly what they perfected somewhere else for the next six months at least.
Don't have more people managers than staff doing the tactical work. Learn to delegate to your team early; you'll never scale if you try to handle everything yourself. Trusting your team is vital. You hired your employees for a reason. Trust in that decision and in them. Create a workplace where people have fun, support each other, and grow together, and no one will want to leave.
Your culture must embrace personal growth and transparency. Align individual team members' successes with your objectives. Coach them to break through any limiting beliefs, so that all of you conquer your shared mission together. Magic happens when everyone is empowered to "own" their journey. Give your team permission to experiment intentionally and celebrate innovation, collaboration, and failures(!) often.
5. Build scalable processes- and focus on belief and leadership Scaling up a business will require a coordinated set of objectives and processes that scale the secret sauce across departments and initiatives. If you haven't already done so, now is the time to put your thoughts and ideas into writing and to chart the specific courses of action that need to be taken to grow your business.
A clear set of objectives and key results (OKRs) popularized by John Doerr at Google (he borrowed them from his time at Intel) will ensure focus, prioritization, and collaboration. Some prefer to use the The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling, where the organization defines wildly important goals articulated as "from Point A to Point B by deadline."
Perfect your operations with measurable, systematic processes that you can replicate consistently- this will allow you to scale the secret sauce. Understand what contributes most to your impact, and maximize that in everything you do. Pushing yourself and others to new levels requires challenging your beliefs about how big and impactful you can be. Belief energizes you and your team to work harder and smarter. It is the catalyst to thinking, doing, and being more.
Taking your business to the hyper growth stage is no mean feat. It requires physical and mental stamina, emotional intelligence, and powerful habits that are reinforced daily across your organization. The key ingredients to focus on are: know your customer, hire the right people, get out of their way, embrace teamwork with clear alignment around a set of objectives and beliefs, and become an evangelist for your company. If you are fiercely focused, you can realize the power of a unified vision, and successfully navigate the steep journey to your growth curve.