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HOW QUICK WILL YOUR STARTUP GROW?


Sean Ellis, one of the most renowned growth hackers, believes that for companies “agility is no longer a way to get ahead, it’s a necessity for survival”. He successfully helped lots of great startups like Dropbox and Eventbrite get traction and his idea is that using growth hacking, a model to rapidly expand your business using specific tricks and techniques, is a matter of life and death. You have to grow fast to succeed. Right. But how fast will you grow and to what extent?

Figuring out where your startup is heading and how long it will take you to reach your destination is essential to move forward efficiently. Otherwise by trying to accelerate without a clear roadmap, you might just waste a lot of time and energy until you find yourself in a dead-end. So much with survival…

Map the road

In 1961, E. Rogers introduced the theory of diffusion and adoptionmentioning that, from innovators to laggards including early adopters and an early & late majority, the technology adoption cycle goes through different types of customers until they are adopted by a majority. View graph below:

This highlights that on the road of your startup’s expansion you have to cater different types of customers and thereby adapt to their expectations and needs. So, as you move towards the highway to growth, be prepared to identify these customers and shift accordingly. This will be your map.

Understand your speed

The pace at which your startup will grow can be assessed through the innovation diffusion rate. In other words, how long it takes for an innovation to be used by the majority of customers in its defined market. And this is what I believe growth hacking is trying to crack.

30 years after Rogers, G. Moore added what he calls “the chasm” - see graph -which is basically the step from which a niche product starts being used by a majority, also called take-off. This happens if the following 5 intrinsic attributes of innovation are aligned:

Relative Advantage: How much better is aproduct or service from what the alternative was before. Ex: email vs post.

Visibility: People adopt a product or service when they can see others adopt it. Ex: I can see others using a car but the email is not very visible.

Trialability: How much cost, time and effort is needed to try a product or service. Ex: trying a car is more difficult than trying to email.

Simplicity: When you see someone using a product or service, how obvious is it for others to understand how it works? The simpler to understand the faster it will take off.

Compatibility: If you adopt a product or service what do you have to change in your life in order for it to work. Ex: for the car, I need a license, a parking space, I need to fuel it, an insurance…

So whether you’re already on the startup journey or just getting started, I’d highly suggest you to try the honest exercise of assessing your project based on these 5 parameters. It will give you a good idea of the obstacles hindering your startup to go all the way to full adoption and on which parameters you should work on to ensure the quickest adoption.

It’s time to grow

It took the email and internet 10 years to take off and 100 for the car. Also, bear in mind that some startups will reach mass market, others won’t. Knowing your roadmap as well as your attributes for a quick adoption is the best way to start. Only then will Growth Hacking help you grow rapidly, and efficiently.

May you grow your startup successfully.

Youssef


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