“A startup that prematurely targets a growth goal often ends up making a nebulous product that some users sort of like and papering over this with ‘growth hacking’. That sort of works—at least, it will fool investors for awhile until they start digging into retention numbers—but eventually the music stops.”
“There’s an initial period of slow or no growth while the startup tries to figure out what it’s doing. As the startup figures out how to make something lots of people want and how to reach those people, there’s a period of rapid growth.”
“Leaky buckets don’t need more water, they need their holes fixed. It’s a rookie mistake to focus on customer acquisition instead of customer retention, especially early in a startup’s life.”
Continue reading “Should I hire a growth hacker/growth engineer?”
Companies sound serious. When you start thinking of yourself as a company, you start acting like one. Worst of all, you won’t work on slightly crazy ideas. When you have a company, the clock is ticking and people expect results. It’s far better to be thought of—and to think of yourself—as a project than a company for as long as possible.
Work on real work. Stay focused on building a product your users love and hitting your growth targets. Try to have a board and peers who will make you hold yourself accountable. Make the mistake of focusing too much on what matters most, not too little, and relentlessly protect your time from everything else.
The main problem is that companies stop doing what they were doing during YC—instead of relentlessly focusing on building a great product and growing, they focus on everything else. In general, startups get distracted by fake work. Two particularly bad cases are raising money and getting personal press. But the list of fake work is long.
First-time startup CEOs make a lot of mistakes, mostly due to ignorance. One particularly bad one is misunderstanding or misusing basic financial terms.
I think the right initial metric is “do any users love our product so much they spontaneously tell other people to use it?” Until that’s a “yes”, founders are generally better off focusing on this instead of a growth target.
A startup that prematurely targets a growth goal often ends up making a nebulous product that some users sort of like and papering over this with ‘growth hacking’. That sort of works—at least, it will fool investors for awhile until they start digging into retention numbers—but eventually the music stops.