4 Growth Hacks for any Startup

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Goals, Hiring, Partnerships, Branding. Sustainable growth hacks that any startup or small business can implement.

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  • First of all, I’d like to thank Brian for inviting me. I’m honoured to be a part of Boston’s start up community. Before I get too involved in the growth hack ideas, I just want to get an understanding of the type of businesses you guys are running.Just some of my own quick background. I started off wanting to be a scientist in College so I’m quite methodical and experimental in the way I run a business or if you like, implement a new strategy. To cut a long story short, I ended up in corporate roles being what some would call an “intra-preneur” – so someone who was focused on business process improvement ranging from technical, marketing, operations and customer relations roles. I’ve pretty much worked in every sector you can think of - banking, medical, education, government, tech, not-for profits and professional services. Projects included everything from putting in a new online ticketing system to a complete rebranding and corporate restructure. I’ve also consulted with a few startups and working on my second personal one. In my experience, I’ve learnt that implementing some basic things, early on, will mean you will be a lot more effective and running your business will be a lot more enjoyable, ie. you will get a lot more yeses than nos. They’re also what I call, long term strategies – ie. we are talking about engagement here. You can send out a press release, and get a huge spike in traffic, but if no one comes back, then it’s not going to be useful to you. I know this is a huge problem for many businesses. 
  • Work out what you need to achieve in the next quarterly only. I only set quarterly goals for my biz.What 20% you should get done that is going to get you 80% of the results. Set your goals to results – not to what needs “work”. Set them into 3 buckets and 3 only! It doesn’t mean you don’t work on things outside of the 3, but this is the 3 that you focus on.Everything you are doing should tie back into the 3 goals. If they don’t, then you should not be doing it because you’ve already decided at the start of the quarter that it was not a priority!For Investors Beat – we have our 3 buckets as Content, Social Media, Partnerships as our 3 buckets. That will change next quarter from Social Media, Partnerships and Advertising.Once you have worked out what these 3 are, then decided what 3 measurements you will get done under these, ie. numbers should be in your goals.For example, Investors Beat – Content is to have X number of articles published, Social Media – X number of follower, likes etc, Partnerships – X number of meetings, contributing writers etc.8. Ownership of the 3 buckets then needs to be assigned, ie. someone needs to take primarily responsibility for each of them. This is where your team should have complementary skills or should be working to develop them, which will lead onto my next point about hiring.
  • Don’t kill yourself by being Mr. or Ms. Know it All. The human population has worked out over 1000s of years that we work better as a society when we focus and are good at an X number of things. The same applies to your business!Find someone else to do what you are bad at or not good at. Better yet, find someone smarter than you to do what you don’t want to do or that will take too long to learn to do. We’re all here to learn growth hacks – how to grow quickly and ideally, sustainably. As your business grows, you don’t want to be personally still tackling the same problems you encountered last month. The only way you know your business is growing is when you are solving new problems – ones that are on a ‘higher’ level. So hire people before you need them.Once your team members are trained up, trust them, and give them the opportunity to shine. Hire someone before you need them and be continuously thinking about how you can not be doing what you are doing right now, a month from now – so automate, systemize and delegate. Know when to fire also. I have made the mistake recently of not firing someone sooner and that cost me time.Being responsible for too many things at the one time, and achieving nothing is a sure fire way to get demotivated. Do whatever you can to keep yourself motivated. But also remember that momentum doesn’t start without exerting some motion first.
  • Another thing I see very often and unless you are running a purely tech, social media business and even then, you would still need to implement components of an offline strategy. A purely online strategy will only get you so far! You may choose to focus for a period of time on your product and development, but when it comes to growing quickly and sustainably, make sure you are getting out there and visible. EVENTS FourSquare and Twitter launched at SXSW. For the majority of us, we will be sticking to MeetUp groups and EventBrite. Meetup Groups – more than likely you will find a MeetUp group that fits with what you are working on. If there isn’t one, then I would ask the question as to whether the market you are servicing. If there is no direct, obvious Meetup group, perhaps where your target audience would hang out instead.Make yourself visible to the organizers at events. That means fill in your Meetup profile when you join and fill in the answers by talking about what you do and with links. I see too many Meetup profiles that are blank which makes it difficult for people to find you later on. It’s a connecting tool, so use it. Another good idea is to comment on the event before going, and leave feedback for the event. And always, bring your business cards!As a result of attending a Meetup group, Investors is now a Co-organizer of the MA Real Estate investing Community and the official brand for this 300+ Meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/realestateinvestor/Trying to grow a new group is pretty tricky so we’re fortunate that we’ve been invited to collaborate on one.COFFEE After speaking with people and letting them know what you do, once you’ve gotten to know them well enough, don’t be shy about asking for introductions. Try and make life as easy as possible for the person making these introductions for you. I always have a short, one paragraph email that I send out to others to use to speed things up. It clearly outlines who I am, what I do, what I am looking for, and is linked to my LinkedIn profile if they need more info.   I’m not going to get into networking skills in too much detail, but as a general rule, be the first one to ask the other person what they’re working on. Try to work out what the other person is looking for in their own business and start actively thinking about how you might be able to assist.  KLOUT has recently revised their algorithm and I have to spend more time reviewing it, but it Is fantastic for figuring out who you should be connecting with on your topic area. LINKEDIN is also another great way to find more relevant people to connect with.And don’t stop at your direct audience – think about your audiences other needs, eg. Real estate investors don’t just buy houses – they hire contractors, legal and accounting professionals, property managers etc. Think about complimentary businesses and try connecting with those.WINDOWSSeamless and GrubHub put stickers on their customer windows.LevelUp have their stations on the front counter. How can your brand be visible with those you do business with.  We make our logos downloadable from our website. We encourage our partners to share our content and they do because we took time to ensure our brand was something they would be proud of displaying. http://blockavenue.com/newshttps://collaperty.com/press How can you have your customers and clients display your brand on their existing “windows”? How can you display theirs? 
  • *Put trash bag on, w flip flops and mess hair up.This is the no. 1 problem I see with a lot of businesses – particularly startups. They have an identity crisis.   WEBSITE Your website is the shop window to your business. Whether you like it or not, what you look like makes a difference! Most businesses first hires after the developers, should be the graphic artist/designer if they are not already on the team and for good reason.So what does your website look like? Do you have so many things going on, and are you trying to serve every body that your customers can not tell if you can help them? If they’re on your website, they’re most likely looking for a solution or entertainment.The best thing you can do for your brand is to come up with 5 adjectives that describe your business. How do you want customers to feel when they interact with you? This should be carried through from everything you and your team do – that means emails, social media, phone calls, elevator pitch, images on your website – all your interactions both internal and external. Great brands aresimple. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid principle applies here. Beautiful brands flow and are consistent in colour and fonts and even is neat and clean. Tidying up margins and keeping to a few colours and fonts will make a HUGE difference to how you look to others.
  • Here are some examples of great brands:http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/http://www.apple.com/http://us.coca-cola.com/Notice how simple, uncluttered they are. Minimal text. If you have an image of what is meant to be one of your customers using your product or service – I have to be able to imagine myself as that person. That means, if you’re customer is mainly women – you do not put pictures of mostly men on the website. If you are mainly serving an African American or Asian audience, don’t only have images of white men! If I cannot see myself as a customer using your product through your images, I will subconsciously think that you do not have my interests in mind and I will move on!We’re humans and we connect through emotions and there’s definite ‘inspiration’ and ‘emotion’ in these brands.
  • INVESTORS BEAT With Investors Beat – we talk about investing in real estate which is bland, dated, non-tech and largely disconnected industry. When you think of real estate, a lot of people think of Donald Trump – old, white men with fancy cars. Here are our competing brands:http://realty411guide.com/http://www.inman.com/http://nreionline.com/ http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/
  • We wanted to stand out from these existing brands. We wanted to be this for Real Estate:http://techcrunch.com/http://www.entrepreneur.com/http://www.apimagazine.com.au/Our 5 adjectives were young, professional, educational, inspiring, friendly. Our launch series had to show these and distinguish ourselves in our content and visually. We launched with two key article series:TheDirty 30 interviews featured 30 young, real estate investors in their 20s or 30s buying property. http://www.investorsbeat.com/ [SLIDER] Realtor Predictions – where we reached out to 50 realtors in 50 US states and got their 2013 predictions for the property market for their state. The goal was to show our direct connection the US real estate market as a whole. http://www.investorsbeat.com/category/news/property-predictions/ Think about your industry, then think about your competitors then ask yourself how your business is different? What do your images say about your brand? How do you stand out from the others? ---*Take off trash bag on, put high heels back on, tie hair up + lip balm.
  • 4 Growth Hacks for any Startup

    1. 1. 4 Growth HacksShellli Trung – shelli@investorsbeat.com@shellitrunglinkedin.com/in/shellitrung/
    2. 2. Who’s in the room? Solo-preneurs? Small Biz? Larger Biz? Tech? Professional Services? Education? Not-for-Profit?Medical? Real Estate? Scientist, “Intra”preneur in business process improvement acrossmost industries. New software, online ticketing systems, branding, restructuring. More yeses, more engagement, more successful implements.
    3. 3. 4 Growth Hacks Goals Hiring Partnerships Branding
    4. 4. GoalsDon’t set too many goals.80/20 rule. Quarterly goals. 3 buckets.
    5. 5. HiringDon’t be the ‘Know it All’.Systemize. Solve new problems. Maintain momentum.
    6. 6. PartnershipsDon’t stay online.Events. Coffee. Windows.
    7. 7. BrandingDon’t have an identity crisis.Find yourself with 5 adjectives.
    8. 8. Great BrandsKISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.Images. Emotion. Connect.
    9. 9. Your CompetitorsReal Estate = Old. White. Men.
    10. 10. Your VoiceOur idols.Professional. Young. Inspiring.
    11. 11. 4 Growth Hacks Don’t set too many goals. Don’t be the Know it All. Don’t stay online. Don’t have an identity crisis.
    12. 12. 4 Growth HacksShellli Trung – shelli@investorsbeat.com@shellitrunglinkedin.com/in/shellitrung/

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