Growth Hacking Fails: Why The Growth Hacker Is No Hero

growth hacking heros

In today’s business, we see way too many startups appear on the scene to even be able to keep count. And if you talk to most startup founders, you’ll find that they’re all after the same proverbial hockey stick growth graph; and this all comes from the financial projection for investors. The idea being, the steeper the graph, the faster projected timeline to exit and begin the process all over again.

This is one of the main reasons that the term growth hacking has become quite popular. Startups, SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) and even big players whose motto is to continue acting like startups, are all after growth, bringing about a highly sought after position: the growth hacker. Some companies come up with titles such as Entrepreneur In-house or Special Project Manager and so on and so forth. At it’s core, the function of all these positions is to growth hack.

While most of the startup founders and management’s eyes are trained on the business-side of things (the hockey stick graph), the challenge for the growth hacker is getting the entire ship there; and it’s not an easy task.

Could you in fact hire a growth hacker and place the entire responsibility to grow your business on their shoulders? It’s actually much easier said than done. Let’s take a look at some important growth hacking oversights that should come in handy for both the growth hacker and the business owners, to prevent growth hacking fails.

Growth Hacking Is Not A Specialist Type Role

If you’ve been hiring specialist to do your growth hacking for you, then you’ve got it backwards. The growth hacker, cannot be a specialist because he/she would be lacking the ability to see a challenge from its various angles, from technical, financial, human resources to marketing.

The best person to growth hack your business is the general manager or product owner. If you already have a general manager or a product owner in your company, assess if you can pivot his/her role.

There Is No Hero In Growth Hacking

When looking for a growth hacker, you’re looking for someone who truly understands teamwork, collaboration and communication. There is no hero in growth hacking. Imagine your business is a ship, the growth hacker needs people working on the oars, on deck, in the kitchen and everywhere else at the same time which he/she cannot do simultaneously alone, in order to keep the show running.

In this sense, growth hacking requires not just technical skills, but people skills. Not just the hard skills but the soft skills as well. For the growth hacker to achieve exponential growth, he/she needs an entire team running in the same direction. The correct mindset is thus, there is no hero in growth hacking. Know when to dribble, when to stay open and when to pass the ball.

growth hacking team

Be Aware Of The Learning Curve

A company may hire a growth hacker to double and triple growth, but if the team’s capability and know-how has not been trained to carry on heavier weight and challenges, the result is resentment. When resentment embodies the team’s mindset, it can quickly become the company’s culture. A company culture built on resentment might grow fast but by no means would it be able to grow strong and transform into a sustainable business. Thus, when growth hacking a business, it’s also the growth hacker’s job to keep track of the learning curve faced by the entire company.

learning curve

While a growth hacker can do wonders for a business, an ambitious growth hacker can be quite dangerous.

Be Aware Of The Strain On Infrastructure

This is especially the case for startups whose business rely a lot on infrastructure and technology. The main challenge, quite simply put is: whether your infrastructure is scaling fast enough to support the growth of the business.

And the next question is: while you’re scaling, are you sacrificing risk management, data security and stability?

The growth hacker should be a generalist to realize these risk and work with the team to scale this part of the business along side, revenue.

The Push and Pull Growth Hacking Stance

In conclusion, growth hacking is perhaps a 2-steps approach for exponential growth: the pull and push stance. In the pull stance, the growth hackers will try to pull the business to where it’s suppose to be, by force. This growth hacking stance is best used when the business infrastructure, people, process, capabilities and other core functions is ready to take on the new growth.

Whereby, the push stance of growth hacking involves efforts to push the ship and its people to move faster, climb the learning curve and scale the infrastructure to a point when it’s ready for further exponential growth.

The push stance is pretty much the clean up work and getting the company and team mindset ready for the sprint. The pull stance is the hustling part, when you’re in the middle of a heated competition, the crowd is cheering and blood rushing. In a way, a growth hacker can be compared to a coach for any sports team. The push part is the training part; the most difficult part for the team and the coach. The pull part is the actual competition, when the coach is cheering, motivating, changing game strategies and stance at every timeout. The training part (push) has ensured the team and coach is speaking the same language to be able to quickly change game plans, and that the team’s speed, endurance, skills has been practiced well enough to implement the fast-changing and complicated game plan strategies (pull).

While it all boils down to fast testing, implementing in short sprints and creatively thinking of ways to win bigger with smaller investments; know that having a growth hacker in your company leaves permanent imprints on the culture. Choose and recruit wisely.