3 Growth Hacks All Entrepreneurs Must Know

Published on:

The purpose of business is to grow over time, yet growth is not that easy and can be very capital intensive. The purpose of this article is to familiarize you with the growth hacks used by most of the startup business nowadays to expand successfully.

We all know the stories about how big global corporations got their start from Apple, Microsoft and HP starting off in a garage or house room to more recent iterations such as WhatsApp and Facebook starting off on the smell of an oily rag. For me I can tell your starting both Sustain Group and EntreHub.org the thing that kept me up most at nights was the business plan around getting initial sales in the door especially when the marketing budget was, well, next to zero. The question around our planning table and whiteboard was “what can we do to get runs on the board straight away” and so we turned to the art of growth hacking.

First of all you need to know what growth hacking actually means. Personally I like this definition “Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which use creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.” And the one coined by the movements founder Sean Ellis who defined a growth hacker as “a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

So with all of that in mind, a lot of talent in the room and little in the way of marketing budget these are the three growth hacks I know that work and how you can gather an initial crowd of supporters and customers around your business to get things underway:

Growth Hack #1: Free Starting

It’s a pretty simple premise in so far as the initial business model sees you giving away the product for free and letting the result sing for itself – or let word of mouth travel. Google gave away its search product for free and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest also do – they did so because they knew if the product worked and could take hold then they could build to scale fairly quickly. What happens is that you draw customers in and get them familiar and used to the product so much so that they cannot do without it. The giving away for free offer isn’t lifetime and you should always have a pricing model ready to go and introduce it over time. Netflix and other net T.V providers offer a first month for free and Dropbox offers limited basic access for content storage – both of which then move to a monthly or annual pricing model. Wix, the online website template provider does the same where they offer a basic package for free and then have add on value depending on what you want to do. For my team at EntreHub.org we give both free subscription and membership away for free for the first year and have slowing been introducing a pay service. Another benefit of taking this approach is you can set your sales and budgets expectations more to the medium to longer term as opposed to thinking its all going to happen overnight – nothing happens overnight. Small business start-ups are long haul efforts not instant success.

Growth Hack #2: Exclusivity Breeds Initial Take Up

One way you can draw a crowd is by making an offer to people you know or people of people you know to get an exclusive first look of your product or service. For my team at EntreHub.org we did two things successfully. The first is we took advantage of my own pre-existing networks both from the old business card and contacts method to selecting high value connections to LinkedIn. We sent them an exclusive “founding member” opportunity that 62% took up because we couched it in such a way that they felt special, unique and could be on the front end, for free, a movement that could grow quickly. The second thing we did was to set up a member and subscription form in the first few months whereby if someone wanted to apply they could but they then got a message that because of demand they had to be waitlisted and that we would get back to them when a spot came up. Of course we would always go back to someone within a fortnight and join them up but here’s the thing about human nature – the more you’re told “not yet” or “no” the more you want in.

Growth Hack #3: Partnering Based On Referrals – The Double benefit Exchange

This is an easy one because most start-up small business entrepreneurs would have been networking or know of other start-ups. One thing that can really work is by sitting down with as many people as you can to start looking at establishing mutual benefit partnerships. Mutual benefit is where there is something in it for everyone and both sides put in an equal amount of effort to help the other get established. It could be by recommending each other, by writing publicly available positive reviews, cross sharing logos to make it appear as if you are really bigger than you or jointly partnering to attract customers and therefore sharing in the story. The thing is mutual benefit exchange is more than just money – its about creating buzz, noise, awareness and focus on your brand by harnessing your partnering crowd.

All above 3 hacks have worked for me and crucially enabled me to save a lot of money thereby using what I otherwise may have spent for targeted sales and marketing, product development and operations. The reality is that running a business on the smell of an oily rag can pay off if you understand the power of networking, partnering and the mutual benefit exchange.


Sharing is caring so please share this post. Thank you!