11 Strategies for Accelerating Growth and Three Pitfalls to Avoid

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Startups continue to face challenges in today’s business landscape. Every opportunity to strengthen their operations and achieve growth is crucial for competing in an economically demanding environment.

For small businesses, especially those in their early stages, learning from the wisdom of others who’ve walked that path before can spare them the hardships of trial and error. As retired US four-star general and former secretary of defense Jim Mattis said, “If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.” This emphasizes the importance of learning from those who have already achieved growth and aided others in their business journeys.

Below are 11 effective growth hacks to launch your business forward while navigating the unpredictable economic landscape of 2023:

Embrace digitalization: Leverage digital tools to optimize workflows, such as marketing and sales, and align them with customer needs. Plan investments strategically to synchronize budget availability with business needs.

Define target audiences and measure performance: Track various performance metrics to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to improve. Prioritize your sales process and analyze aspects like lead generation, deal closures, and duration. The right software like CRM can record tracking, reporting, and improvement much easier than spreadsheets.

Seek inspiration from role models: Look at peers or more established companies to uncover the factors behind their success.

Public relations helps spread the word: Don’t underestimate the impact of PR for small businesses. Internally driven PR initiatives can significantly boost visibility regardless of the company’s size. Don’t be deterred by the belief that it costs a lot because achieving ‘free’ media coverage is a much better return on investment than spending thousands of dollars on advertising.

Cultivate a challenger mindset: Startups possess the advantage of adaptability and flexibility. Continuously scrutinize whether your current strategies align with your desired outcomes and be prepared to adjust and evolve.

Explore financing opportunities: Instead of viewing external capital as a negative, consider it a catalyst for growth during crucial stages. Various options, including debt financing, venture capital, and revenue-based financing, can provide the necessary resources. Capital providers may also offer network access and industry expertise as part of the deal.

Leverage partnerships for scalability: Startups often focus on core expertise rather than the entire value chain. Tap into the expertise of other firms within your industry. Establish partnerships and develop API interfaces to enhance visibility and capabilities. But bear in mind this will require careful consideration, and therefore time, for due diligence.

Run counter to the cycle: Studies, such as Pipedrive’s State of Sales and Marketing, offer evidence that in times of crisis it is important to maintain visibility to prospects. Marketing shouldn’t be turned off but streamlined to what’s the most beneficial to customers at the time. For example, conversational commerce, or educational content?

Embrace corporate social responsibility: Even smaller companies can prioritize CSR initiatives. Studies show that consumers respect and follow firms with genuine commitments to social causes. Initiatives need not be expensive; supporting local charities with time and expertise can make a significant impact. Once initiated, incorporate these efforts into your marketing mix.

Understand your customers first, build your product second: Success lies in developing products that align with customer demands. Gather as much information as possible regarding product usage and potential features. Use platform data, customer conversations, surveys, and feedback forms to create a customer-centric product. Ask how the product is used, what for, missing functionalities, what features are used most, etc.

Put your people first: Studies prove that companies with above average employee involvement increase their outcomes, from a satisfaction and a productivity point of view.

What to avoid – while it’s important to actively pursue and nurture certain growth opportunities, there are some actions that should be avoided. Here are three pitfalls to steer clear of:

Cashflow negativity: Startups can minimize the likelihood of financial turbulence by establishing solid financial planning. It’s not just about maintaining a positive mindset; it’s crucial to make sure outgoings do not outpace incomings.

Keeping your head down: Don’t limit your focus solely to your own operations. Stay updated on the latest trends, technological advancements, regulatory changes, and customer demands. Being well-informed allows you to adapt your strategy, messaging, and offerings when necessary.

Value money more than people: Your skilled workforce is your most valuable asset. Allocate resources towards their well-being and professional development. Only a talented team can effectively drive growth and achieve organizational goals. Invest in creating a positive work environment that inspires loyalty and fosters employee satisfaction.

Remember, by incorporating the above growth hacks and avoiding the pitfalls, you can position your startup for sustainable momentum and success.

Sean Evers
Sean Evers, Vice President of Sales & Partner at Pipedrive, brings nearly two decades of sales experience to Pipedrive working at companies, including Funding Circle UK where he served as Head of Global Sales, Fluidly and Sage where he was Vice President of Sales, and Pitney Bowes and Spicerhaart as Director of Sales Operations respectively. At Pipedrive, he is responsible for developing sales plans and strategies, organizing and maintaining sales operations, and leading sales teams.

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