Sometimes, it seems like every new startup begins with building a growth team. As founders realize that effective growth hacking can make or break a startup, they’ve focused more and more of their efforts on compiling an avengers team of growth hackers.
Still, what many don’t realize is that an effective growth team is about more than finding effective growth hackers that work together. Compiling a growth team requires careful consideration of your customer, business, and product.
Luckily, some simple ideas to keep in mind can set your growth team apart from the crowd.
What is a Growth Team?
Naturally, to build a successful growth team, you’ll need to understand what it looks like and how it can bring value to your startup.
In short, a growth team is a team of flexible, highly skilled professionals dedicated to working together on growth hacking. Though these professionals ultimately work towards discovering more effective marketing practices, they will need to include more than just marketers—a real growth team will also include data analysts, product managers, designers, and engineers, to name a few.
This team experiments with finding highly rewarding marketing strategies that bring massive spikes in growth without a corresponding spike in marketing costs. To do this, they’ll design small-scale experiments and make design decisions based primarily on collected data. If done correctly, these teams can discover ways to create massive, sustained growth for your business.
Growth Hackers v. Growth Teams
But wait, isn’t a growth team just a group of growth hackers working together?
Still, there’s a valuable distinction to draw between the two. Growth hackers tend to take pride in doing all the essential work of developing growth strategies on their own. These people must be generalists to do their jobs well and can be a great asset to a small team.
However, growth teams become more useful as the competition grows fiercer. By combining the basic personality traits of a growth hacker—someone who doesn’t mind risk, is data-driven, and constantly strives to explore—with a specialization, you can create a team of growth hackers capable of handling a much more complex project/product.
How to Know if You Need a Growth Team
Naturally, a highly-effective growth team can transform just about any startup. Still, jumping the gun and developing your growth strategies before your startup is ready for it risks wasting your time, money, and effort. So, make the best use of your resources and start working on your growth team when your startup is at its product and marketing stage—otherwise, you risk losing your time and money on developing strategies for a product that doesn’t even exist.
In the same vein, be sure to understand what metric you’re hoping to grow. The skill sets you’ll need to assemble in your team may be influenced by the part of the funnel or the specific metric you’re looking to grow. So, by having your goals clearly outlined at the outset, you avoid wasting your time or the time of your team members.
Finally, be sure to assess whether the risk level associated with growth hacking is one you’re comfortable with. The acceptable risk level for your startup will depend on your business, product, target customer, major investors, or even your personality, and pushing those limits will rarely bring you any benefit, no matter how popular growth hacking becomes.
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Growth Team Models for Startups
Before you even think about filling the positions in your growth team, you’ll need to know roughly how that team will operate. Hopefully, these two main models can act as a source of inspiration for your team.
As the name suggests, team members in an independent model work separately from the rest of the company. Here, all team members report to the head of growth first, operating separately from any engineering or marketing teams.
Functional models use a little more structure and require that team members report directly to the heads of each relevant function. This way, those responsible for engineering, design, or marketing are directly involved in the process.
The Most Important Positions to Fill on Your Growth Team
Once you understand how your growth team will work, its goals, and whether it’s the right fit for your business, you’re finally ready to start identifying the positions you’ll need to fill. Naturally, these will differ based on your business’ needs, but these are some of the essential roles you’ll most likely need.
Head of Growth
The head of growth is perhaps the most apparent addition you’ll need to the team. This person will lead the team and oversee its operations. They’ll likely need to use high-level thinking skills to continue moving the group toward your ultimate goal and are most similar to the growth hackers that many of us are familiar with.
A data analyst is another role that is essential to the functioning of the team. Because data is used to inform every decision made in the process of growth hacking, you’ll need a team member that’s able to uncover genuinely valuable trends from the data you collect. This person will play the critical role of telling the rest of the team whether the strategies they’ve developed are actually successful—and whether they show promise in the future.
Once your team has decided on a new strategy to test, you’ll often need a software engineer to handle the nitty-gritty details of actually building and executing the experiments. This can range from building new features into your product to building the framework for testing to making sure the website continues to work properly.
A UX designer is an expert on user experience, psychological triggers, and other interactions between customers and your interface. Because UX design already emphasizes evidence and data, a UX designer can help make use of the conclusions of the data analyst to draw new and interesting connections between your interface and customers’ decision-making.
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Though it can feel tempting to quickly assemble a growth team in the hopes of instantly skyrocketing growth, organizing a growth team requires careful planning and consideration. But by clearly understanding why you need a growth team, what its aims are, how it should be organized, and what positions need to be filled, you can help set up the foundation for exceptional innovation to take place.