The 5 Secrets to Growth No One Talks About
Imagine if the Beatles sang, “She appreciates you”.
Imagine if Steve Jobs said “Apple is just a job, I don’t care much about it”.
Imagine if Richard Branson said “I don’t want to risk losing money, it’s too dangerous”.
We’d all be living in a world with less role models, and yes… a little less love.
With more markets and more competition, business owners and startup founders try to out-do each other with the next big idea or product. There’s so much struggle to succeed that it becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees.
So the only thing that will keep you going, in the darkest or brightest of days is the love of it all. However, a desire to succeed isn’t enough. Knowing what to do with success when you finally get it is equally as important.
1. Have the 3 components of passion
- the what is the work you are passionate about. It could be art, selling or writing code. Yet to be a successful you must also embrace the bad stuff – the pitching, the borrowing, contract negotiations, damage control – you name it. If all that doesn’t kill your passion, then, maybe you’ve picked the right one.
- the why is the reason why you do something – and loving what you do isn’t as important as loving why you do it. For example, you may not like sitting in on endless meetings and coordinating email messages, yet being vehemently passionate about solving water shortages in developing countries could make it all worth it.
- the how is your unique touch. Maybe it’s striving for excellence, the attention to detail or love of people that shines through your work. Offering personal customer service, a better product, or a more interesting option. Ultimately, it translates to good word of mouth and opens a door to multiple opportunities.
2. Look where the market is going
We usually look for products or services to improve our lives, not to add to stress and confusion. Unfortunately, products fall short of expectations, and many end up on the chopping block.
Giants like Firestone, Kodak and Blockbuster couldn’t hold on to their market share as their competitors came out with a better product. But those who came out on top literally had to “move mountains” – they had to innovate.
When you innovate, you improve in more ways than one. You become more productive, more responsible, more aware and most importantly, you’re moving forward. And everyone wants to be part of the next best thing instead of someone who’s only interested in cutting costs or preserving the status quo.
3. Make improvement a part of culture
No one person is responsible for growth – not the mythical growth hacker, at least. It all starts and ends with the team. Yet we easily dismiss change (and do a good job at justifying why we do it):
- we can’t see the results today
- we don’t support or value innovation
- we cannot find good ideas to implement
- we cannot easily measure our success
The problem becomes an organizational one – an inability to make certain behaviors and actions stick. Inability to make certain actions routine. Instead, you should be making connections, embracing trial-and-error, interacting with others to share and learn. It’s only when a company embraces these crucial management structures can change take place.
Leaders that understand this will produce enough ideas (and naturally, some blunders) but also stumble upon an occasional winning combination. This process depends on careful planning, management and constant measuring in order to achieve the desired result.
4. Embrace customer feedback
Customer feedback gives companies a solid base to start with – it’s the “glue” that keeps innovation going, instead of being a one-time thing. It’s also something that engages customers and gives them a voice during product development.
- Customers don’t always tell you what they want in words
When customers want something they won’t tell you directly, you’ll need to pick up on the cues. For example, many SaaS companies have onboarding surveys which ask what the intended use of their product is. When too many people select “other”, it’s an opportunity to delve deeper and learn if there’s any unmet expectations.
- Customers can help you fix problems you didn’t know you had
Before you start working on a new feature, you need to be certain that it’s something your customers really need. When customers aren’t reaching their desired objectives, reach out to them and make notes. Is it difficult for them to upload an image? Maybe it’s a good idea to develop a feature to display that data in-app.
- Consider things that you do or don’t do after knowing customer feedback
Knowledge is power. Acting on data is just as important as not acting on it – and the same rings true when it comes to customer feedback. If an idea is based on opinion, has a negative impact on team or operations, shelf it. If it uncovers dissatisfied customers, checking company communication should take precedence over product changes.
5. Create a reward mechanism
When coming up with rewards for innovative milestones, it’s best to keep them low-key and inexpensive.
Breakthrough ideas are rare (or rarely implemented in their full form). Allocating rewards based on the value of ideas has been counter-productive, according to one HBR study from 2013. Excessive rewards for ideas (whether it’s on the employee or customer side) can stifle productivity, reduce mechanisms for idea generation and even reduce their quality.
And sometimes, rewards aren’t as effective as simple acknowledgement from management. The same study revealed that as employees competed with others to get their ideas heard, large volumes of suggestions failed to garner enough attention from management. In turn, employees would opt against suggesting ideas the next time around.Success isn’t rocket science.
It’s a series of calibrated steps in combining your passions, knowledge of the market and embracing constant improvement. It’s listening to customers and rewarding good behavior. It’s absolutely loving what you do and having the will to see your business at its best. That’s a lot of love.