Most entrepreneurs fail in what we call the "land of the dead" for startups. This is the place where the company has seen some initial traction, but then is unable to trigger rapid growth. While there are many reasons for why this happens, the most common is that founders don't know ways to ignite growth.
Too many entrepreneurs believe in the idea that by just simply building a product, traction will just build itself. In reality, it takes a lot of hard work and strategic thought.
A company that has been doing this extremely well lately is Alumnify, which was recently named the fastest growing company in alumni engagement with over a million dollars of funding to date, and acceptance to the 500 Startups batch in San Francisco.
Looking at companies like this, I have noticed a pattern of things that they do to accelerate their growth that works. Many of these tactics are things that most entrepreneurs forget, but they have helped companies like Snapchat , Periscope, and Facebook get to where they are today.
Here are 5 ways you can accelerate growth for your own startup. Start using these today or risk falling into the "land of the dead."
1. Be Mr. Scrooge with your funding
Creating companies takes time. Don't be fooled by the overnight successes that we hear about in the press. The only reason why you think that the company was a quick success is because the press wouldn't write about the startup when it was boring.
It's very rare that your initial idea is the one that you keep as your company evolves. Because of this, one of the best things you can do is give yourself as much time as possible to figure out a scalable business model. Funding is time. When the money runs out, your business closes its doors.
Keeping this in mind, you should be as conservative as possible with your funding until you've found a scalable business model. This will give you the time to find out what exactly is going to cause your growth to ignite.
2. Go get users
Ditch the "build it and they will sign up" mentality. You have to actively go get users to get growth. When looking to build traction, figure out who are going to be your early adopters. Once that's done, figure out how you're going to bring them to your product. Once you provide your early customers with a great experience, they will help ignite your growth by referring you to others. But to do this right, you need to actively chase down your first users.
Most founders focus solely on Facebook ads, and digital advertising but in my experience, doing the unscalable is something that most startups can't admit to doing, especially because it requires the most work.
I see this as an opportunity to:
1. Read users and have them pick your brain regarding what problems they immediately see
2. Gauge in person why a specific consumer is your ideal customer. Most digital marketers can find this data on line, but there is nothing better than to be proven that what you are building is for the right consumer.
3. Build internal routines in your company
We love to look at external factors for people's failures and successes. If your company is successful, many people will think you just had the perfect idea at the perfect time. In truth, most great companies are built because of the internal processes, not the external.
In fact, top accelerators like Y Combinator tell their startups to ignore competition. The reason for this is because for companies to be able to grow, they need to have their operations in order. Otherwise, your startup will not be able to handle the growth you want, and your organization will begin to spiral downward.
4. Actively look to build your brand
If you ask people about well-known companies, it's obvious on why that organization exists. We don't ask ourselves what Facebook's mission is, because we all know it revolves around connectivity. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have been able to build a brand for themselves that allows their customers to understand them in a different light.
This aspect of branding is crucial for growth. To ignite this, start encouraging everyone on your team to start blogging. Have a company blog talking about deep level beliefs, not surface level topics. Connect with your customers and show them the passion you have for what your startup does, and people will actively start looking to use your product. Remember, they want to fall in love with your story, and answer the "why?"
5. Obsess about building the best product you can
When I looked at the case of Alumnify, the biggest thing that has contributed to their growth is their obsession over their product. CEO AJ Agrawal has said time and time again that Alumnify's core focus is having the best-designed alumni applications on the market. It's led his team's actions and efforts, and is the most prominent reason for the amount of growth they've had.
In the early stages of your venture, you may not be able to build the best product on the market. What you want to do is quickly find what core feature will make your product stand out and build on it.
Scrum Master Jeff Sutherland has said that only 20% of features we build are actually relevant. The others are just a waste. Become obsessed about finding the 20% of your product that people love, and continually refine just that part. Figure this out before time runs out, and your growth will shoot through the roof.
How do you accelerate growth?