High-growth startups have captured market opportunities and momentum in an unprecedented way in the contemporary era. There are several components that contribute to this success. For instance, startups have low regulatory barriers and even lower initial and upfront capital requirements. For some people, only having a laptop and a working knowledge of coding or outsourcing and some tech-savvy competence is enough to build something out of just an idea.
Other reasons include the sheer number of potential customers, as billions of people utilize the internet and particular customer segments can be reached by startups in new and innovative ways. Furthermore, these customer segments can be broken down into specific demographics in a way nobody has seen before. We can now target ads or services or products specifically tailored to attract, say, males who live in Colorado and have an interest in gardening, or people aged 40-50 losing their hair on the West Coast.
The idea, however, is not enough, it’s one of the myths holding founders back, and it’s also crucial that execution be considered in the movement and scalability of a startup to ensure that it becomes high-growth. Granted, high-growth does not necessarily mean constant growth at 15% every month, because once it gets to a certain size and has reached the target audience, maybe has spread to other segments or the mainstream, it will reach a plateau in growth. This is good, however, because too much growth might mean the demand exceeds possible supply.
Starting at the idea and moving to execution is crucial for the high-growth opportunities of start-ups. Successful, high-growth startups create products that are innovative, intuitive such that people don’t have to learn an entirely foreign interface that doesn’t resemble the engagement they understand from using other products, services, or apps, and also focus on the human component by telling a narrative of moving users from problem to solution.
So you might be asking, then: what are other things that high-growth startups do to ensure their upward scalability?
High-growth startups utilize contemporary, viral marketing channels
One of the biggest mistakes a startup can make is keeping its idea a secret out of fear that somebody might steal that idea. The key is simple: for starters, it’s crucial to build momentum out of a select customer segment of early adopters. In addition, it’s crucial to have a specific solution to a problem in the form of an app, product, or what-have-you, that can’t easily be copied.
Successful, high-growth startups utilize all available marketing channels, especially viral marketing, to reach a specific target audience. With billions of internet users, it’s possible to reach a wide range or specific population of potential customers. High customer acquisition costs can be the death of a startup if they use traditional marketing channels; those startups using viral marketing have unlocked a viral funnel to spread their product to a wider audience from a small segment rather than attempting to herd a bunch of people that may end up in one or two customers.
Don’t forget about the opportunities that free marketing channels can provide for you. Having a Facebook or Twitter presence is an amazing way to reach out to people, know their likes and dislikes and what problems they experience, and get them to know who you are and what your product or service is—without costing you anything more than your time.
They build the right team
A huge mistake startups can make is not crafting the right team that will be useful from the get-go and down the line in 6 months to a year. Another mistake is choosing the wrong co-founder or co-founders to build the team up.
Focus on bringing in the talent, leadership, and perspective that you’ll need no matter how big the company gets—and you will need a solid team if you’re going to work on gaining the momentum necessary to grow bigger.
High-growth startups also focus on curating the perfect corporate culture that fosters that creativity, leadership development, and encouragement that ensures their employees are happy and willing to contribute all of their unique strengths. Startups that can build a team of diverse people with different backgrounds and strengths and utilize those different advantages are those that have grown from very little to a whole lot.
They know their initial users to reach a specific target audience and how they’ll measure that success through metrics
Know who your early adopters—those people who will use your app initially—are likely to be, and allow the word to spread from them to other customers. Allow for beta testing, and provide incentives for early adopters to refer friends to your product. The most successful high-growth startups have reached specific and targeted customer segments to be early adopters, so it’s important to know who they are.
The best way to figure out who they’re likely to be is to figure out who is experiencing the problem you’re trying to solve the most. If you’re starting a new ride-sharing app for high-end customers, then know who is likely to use such a service. If you’re starting a new grocery store shopping and delivery app, then you need to figure out who is most likely to want to not leave their house due to, say, time constraints.
You also need to ask yourself serious questions about what metrics you’re going to use to make sure that you’re building that trust with early adopters. Is it how many people use your app daily? How many people download and use the app more than once? How many people sign up for push notifications? Have a strategic plan in mind for how you’ll measure your rate of success as this allows you to better track growth rates. What will you use to measure how you’re growing by “20%”?
They create brand loyalty, focus on habit formation, and retain customers
It’s also extremely crucial to build positive relations with your customers from the get-go, especially those early-adopters, so that they’re likely to build a habit around using your app. You need to focus your efforts into providing rewards for engagement with your app, and being extremely responsive to customer needs.
You absolutely need to make sure that you have positive feedback by being able to respond to customer concerns quickly and efficiently. This way, you not only know the ways in which you lack, providing you the opportunity to fail early and recreate your design or product or service in such a way that you fix early bugs and problems, but you receive positive reviews and have customers that are not only likely to keep coming back, but are likely to refer you to friends.
Startups can easily make the mistake of forgetting that a new app or service, the solution to a problem, needs to be focused on creating such a need and demand for it that using it becomes a habit-forming process for your audience. There are plenty of other mistakes to look out for that we’ve detailed here.
Additionally, one of the best ways to build brand loyalty is to have a specific brand that sets you apart from the competitors—but don’t focus on the competitors so much as ensuring you have a unique value proposition that sets you apart from the crowd.
Get your users to invest a lot of time into your app or product in order to retain customers. One of the best ways to do this is through customer mapping, tracking every moment of engagement, and providing rewards for traveling through your product’s narrative. By walking them through the path, hopefully by using persuasive design and emotional design, you allow them to freely and willfully invest a lot of time into using your product. And this is absolutely crucial, because, well, think about it: if they’ve spent hours and hours uploading pictures or building a network through your product, they’re unlikely to start that process over again with a new service.
Remember that high-growth startups win the hearts of their users, especially those early users, before switching into the mainstream audience, who are not as responsive to new forms of technology.
Products they use often, like shoes or toothpaste, are not seen as technology even though they are—but they’re reluctant to try new things that they don’t think they absolutely need. By building brand loyalty and a solid reputation, you ensure that you show people how your product or service becomes a crucial part of their lives such that it seems like less of an “app” and more of a habit.