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Growth psychology: what you need to build at your start-up DNA level in order to grow sustainably.

Growth psychology is a field of study that focuses on the psychological factors that influence the growth and success of individuals, organizations, and businesses. In the context of start-ups, growth psychology refers to the mindset and strategies that entrepreneurs can adopt to achieve sustainable growth and success.

  1. Language first: The exact language you choose to describe your product and company tells you what you’re doing, and it tells your user what to expect. Your language defines you. It tells users how you are relevant to their life.

  2. Empathy for users: The typical “good” Founder spends their whole day thinking about their product. They want their product to be noticed and loved by the user, to be useful and delightful for the user.

  3. Always be moving: Growth is not a one-time gimmick. To get 1000% growth, there is no silver bullet. Growth comes from adopting the right psychology. The right mindset. From an approach you bring to your daily work consistently for years. Tactics change and become outdated, but growth is an endless creative endeavour.

  4. Data love: Data is the lifeblood of growth. It helps you understand your users, your product, and your market. It enables you to make informed decisions and iterate quickly.

  5. Sustain pain of failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the start-up journey. To succeed, you need to develop resilience and the ability to learn from your mistakes.

Here are some examples of start-ups that have implemented these hallmarks:

  1. Airbnb: Airbnb’s founders used language to create a sense of community and belonging among their users. They referred to their hosts as “hosts” instead of “landlords” and encouraged them to share their homes with travellers from around the world.

  2. Slack: Slack’s founders empathized with users who were frustrated with email and other communication tools. They created a platform that was easy to use, intuitive, and fun.

  3. Uber: Uber’s founders were always moving, constantly iterating on their product and expanding into new markets. They also used data to optimize their pricing, routes, and user experience.

  4. Netflix: Netflix’s founders used data to understand their users’ viewing habits and preferences. They also experimented with different pricing models and content offerings to find the right balance between growth and profitability.

  5. Tesla: Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, has sustained the pain of failure throughout his career. He has faced numerous setbacks and challenges, but he has always bounced back and continued to innovate.

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of start-ups never show a positive return. The most common reasons for failure include lack of market need, running out of cash, and having the wrong team. However, successful start-ups like Skyscanner -who I was leading as a global VP of Growth for 8 years- have shown that it is possible to overcome these challenges and achieve sustainable growth. For context, Skyscanner is a leading travel company that helps millions of people in 52 countries and over 30 languages find the best travel options for flights, hotels, and car hire every month and we saw a x30 revenue growth in the years I was working there. The company has achieved stronger brand awareness and equity, successful new product launches, and empowerment to make better decisions faster. As a leader, you need to build the best operating system to deliver long-term sustainable growth. We call this operating system Growth OS and is made up of three key components: the best structure and talent, a data-driven and experimental way of working, and a growth-oriented culture and leadership.

The best structure and talent refer to the right organizational structure and the best talent that can help you achieve your growth goals. A data-driven and experimental way of working involves using data to make informed decisions and experimenting with new ideas to find what works best. A growth-oriented culture and leadership involve creating a culture that fosters growth and innovation and developing leaders who can inspire and motivate their teams to achieve their full potential.

By building a Growth OS, you can create a sustainable growth engine that can help your start-up achieve long-term success. We help you doing exactly that!


For a free assessment of your growth challenges contact us here.

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