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All companies want to grow, but many don't do the things required to grow.  10 reasons companies fail at growth:

1.  They don't focus on retention first

2.  They subscribe to "product is everything" mantra

3.  They search for a silver bullet

4.  They don't focus.

5.  They don't invest enough in data and analytics

6 - 10...

  • VV

    Visakan Veerasamy

    about 5 years ago #

    I'm reminded of a note that Boz from Facebook left in the early days called The Path Matters [1]. which was the realization that Facebook thrived because they grew in phases- they would dominate a little niche, and then they would focus on serving it better before they grow again.

    "At each point in the punctuated growth of our user base we have had to refine our product to make it more general and more universal. We react to their feedback and usage of the product. At the same time, our user base is itself evolving not only in composition but also in their comfort level with new technologies. People are sharing content today at a level that would have been unthinkable when this company started, so our technologies and others also shape their sensibilities. In other words, if we had tried to jump straight to the end state, we would have never gotten it right."

    [1] https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=82081294140

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 5 years ago #

    My favorite reason was #9, they don't dedicate the right resources to growth. I've found this to be painfully true. Just because companies "want" to grow, it doesn't mean that they are organizationally willing to invest the people, time and resources to actually grow.

    I've met many marketers and founders who say they are committed to growing, but when you ask them about their willingness to invest in analytics, to put an engineer on the growth team, to prioritize experiments, etc. they are unwilling to commit to the work or make changes to their approach.

    I think one classic tell for this type of thinking is the startup looking to hire a "growth hacker". When you read the job description or talk to the hiring manager or founder, it becomes clear that they're looking for a lone wolf who can come in and "make growth happen".

    They actually have little idea of what that entails and what types of resources need to be invested into a growth team to make a company grow. If you're interviewing for one of these positions, work very hard in the interview process to get a good read on whether you're going into a situation where you can be successful or not.

    Thanks @bbalfour as always--great read.

    • BB

      Brian Balfour

      about 5 years ago #

      "I think one classic tell for this type of thinking is the startup looking to hire a “growth hacker”"

      Agreed that it is a tell tale sign. Looking for a magical unicorn vs building/investing in a team to tackle the challenge of growth.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 5 years ago #

    Just skimmed this and can't wait until I can dive in and read it. On the skim looks fantastic.

  • AA

    Aurooba Ahmed

    about 5 years ago #

    The first point about retention really hit me. I'm currently part of a content startup that wants to grow. But sometimes what they talk about is page views and how they don't care if people don't read the whole article..as long as they click over to more pages. And that just freaks me out.

    This is a great article.

  • EB

    Ed Burrows

    about 5 years ago #

    @bbalfour great article as always. The thing that stood out for me was #7 not digging in and learning. Tbh I myself fall into that trap of drawing conclusions as to why an experiment failed, and generating the next hypothesis to establish the cause by running subsequent tests. Curious if anyone here has further thoughts about the most common ways to establish cause for failures (or successes) with speed. I imagine Qualaroo or similar product could play a key part in this. But how much of this cause discovery comes from direct questioning of users vs quantitative data diving and dissection?

    • BB

      Brian Balfour

      about 5 years ago #

      Good question. I don't have an exact percentage but we do use a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures. The qualitative measures vary from watching screen recordings, onsite surveying, 1:1 triggered emails.

      One thing to keep in mind is you often don't get a perfect answer of "why." It typically generates more hypotheses to why something happened, which generate new experiments. Some hypotheses are worth spending time on, some aren't. This is where the "art" piece of growth comes in.

      Another key piece is making your prediction/hypothesis before running the experiment and exposing the reasons why you think it is going to happen. That helps in the analysis stage to isolate the things you got wrong, or don't understand.