Scaling your startup for the future

Scaling your startup is exciting, but it requires strategy. We'll walk you through the steps
23 minute read
Edward Kost @EdwardKost
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for Scaling your startup for the future

Kaa Ukiwa Umesasishwa

Jisajili upate taarifa zetu iliwe ujulishwe na mada za muhimu.
Asante kwa kujisajili! Weka jicho kwenye kikasha chako kwa sasisho letu linalofuata.

Scaling, to any startup business owner, is both an exciting and scary prospect 

It’s exciting because you’ve reached a successful milestone that could lead to incredible growth. It’s also scary because, if executed prematurely, it could result in the downfall of your beloved startup.

A study performed of over 3200 technology startups found that 70% of them scaled prematurely, so 7 out of 10 startups misinterpret key performance data.

If you follow the tips and methodologies outlined in this chapter, you'll be able to clearly identify when your startup is ready to scale and how to scale it successfully.

Evidence your startup is scaling prematurely

To prevent your startup from becoming another failure statistic, you have to know how to identify when you're prematurely scaling and discontinue immediately.

It’s not always obvious to notice when it’s happening, which is why most startups fall victim to it; many seemingly innocent business decisions are actually forms of premature scaling.

A key indicator of premature scaling is an uneven devotion to one the three dimensions of a business.

A business is comprised of three main dimensions:

  • Users

  • Business operations 

  • Solution

As we discussed in chapter 5, the three dimensions can be illustrated as three apexes of a triangle. 

business staffing structure triangle

Figure 1 - Three main dimensions of a business

The solution apex is the solution of your business. A service-centric will have the title “service” in place of “solution”

In order to correctly structure your startup, you must strategically establish departments around each of these dimensions.

If you focus too much attention on growing any one of these dimensions over others, you'll end up with lopsided growth, which is premature scaling. 

Here are some example scenarios of lopsided growth.

Focusing too much on acquiring customers before having a product to sell

We mentioned market measurement strategies such as smoke test sites in chapter 2 of this guide.

A smoke test site is a method of measuring the potential demand for a solution before it’s developed by building a lead list from a "dummy" sales page.

While these tactics are highly effective, you should execute them very cautiously in order to avoid prematurely acquiring customers.

As a good rule of thumb, avoid accepting orders for products that aren't ready to be delivered. We warned you of the dangers of this in chapter 3 when we covered pre-selling as a financing strategy.

If you start crawling down this rabbit hole, you'll place unnecessary pressure on your startup to develop a solution before your leads lose interest, or worse, defame your fragile brand.

Don’t worry about declining premature orders. Use this as an opportunity to nurture hot leads into an eventual purchase by adding them to an email nurture list.

Focusing too much on developing a product with no proven demand

scaling mistake 1

If you structure your business using the lean startup methodology we discussed in chapter 5, you'll avoid making this costly mistake.

Market research and product development should occur side by side. If you're constantly receiving feedback for your product as it’s being developed and applying the requested adjustments, you can have confidence in the market need, and therefore, saleability of your final product.

Spending too much time and money on developing a solution before having concrete evidence of its market demand is one of the most costly and fatal mistakes of a startup.

There’s danger on the other end of the spectrum too: spending too much time on additional product features. 

While some features are necessary additions requested by end-users, others are more luxurious options, or “nice-to-haves.” It’s up to you to decide where the line is so that your team doesn't cross it.

Focusing too much on establishing your team

scaling mistake 2

Expanding the skill sets of your startup is necessary for its growth, but hiring too many people too early is not an efficient application of startup funding.

You should strategically build up each department of your startup as it grows (we showed you how in chapter 5).

Focusing too little (or too much) on funding.

scaling mistake 3

If you ignore funding, you won't be in business long. It's that simple.

You should securing sufficient funding to sustain your startup before tackling any of the other dimensions. Fortunately, we showed you how to do this in chapter 3.

It may surprise you to know that overfunding also poses a high risk. Overfunding tempts founders to use the surplus to scale prematurely.

While operating on a tight budget can be super stressful, it could also save you from a fatal scaling attempt. 

The key to avoiding premature scaling is to allow user data to guide your efforts across all other dimensions, in other words you need user insights to dictate the attention you devote to other sectors of the business.

A healthy customer feedback loop, achieved through the adoption of the lean startup methodology outlined in chapter 5, will help you achieve this balance.

But how do you identify your readiness to switch to high-performance mode and start scaling?

There are some key signs to look out for.

Signs your startup is ready to scale

Before you start scaling, your startup needs to meet all of the following criteria:

✅ Positive cash flow 

Though it may be an obvious error, sadly many founders start scaling while still in a negative cash flow position. Their justification is the possibility of a superior cash flow position after scaling.

This is a very dangerous decision. Scaling should never be a gamble. It should be a strategic process predicated on irrevocable data.

✅ Proven demand for your solution.

Your market research results should not just prove a problem in the market, but it should also prove the need for your unique solution to that problem. 

For example, you might prove that there is a problem with families struggling to afford petrol, but this does not prove that electronic roller blades is the solution to that problem. We shared some effective market research strategies in chapter 2.

✅ All staff departments are established.

Before any considerable scaling attempt, it's imperative that you have sufficient resources to help you cope with increased demand.

By having all of your staff departments established you'll have an entire team behind you to support your efforts.

complete staffing structure triangle

Figure 2 - Staffing structure excerpt from chapter 5. This is an illustration of a fully staffed business.

✅ Sufficient legal support.

You need to ensure that your business has the appropriate structure to protect you and your operations.

If your business solutions possess any amount of risk to the wellbeing of your clients you need to adopt a business structure that will protect you and your assets in the event of a lawsuit.

Startups are usually launched with the simplest of  business structures, such as a sole proprietor or business partnership (we covered these in chapter 4). Though these structures are the quickest and cheapest to establish, they pose the greatest liability risks.

You should definitely upgrade to a more secure business structure before scaling your business. If your solution comes with any risk to clientele, that risk will only multiply after scaling, which means a higher probability of a lawsuit you simply cannot afford.

Besides the security of an advance business structure, you should also have a lawyer on call in the event of an emergency.

Lawyers are usually very happy to establish relationships with prospective clients. Reach out to a few in your area via LinkedIn and ask them out for coffee. Choose one you can naturally establish a rapport with.

It will usually cost you nothing to make this initial connection and it will give you incredible peace of mind knowing you have a lawyer you can call at any time. Finding a lawyer during an emergency is a nightmare, so it’s best to get it done while everything is running smoothly.

The incredible usefulness of a lawyer goes beyond emergency situations. You should also tap into their expertise to draft important documents such as contracts and agreements, as well as for general advice.

WIth a secure business structure and a lawyer to help you with documentation, the legal dimension of your business will be well prepared to cope with any unforeseen circumstances that may accompany your scaling efforts.

✅ Your business is lean 

If your startup is creating unnecessary waste before scaling, that waste will only multiply after scaling.

That's why it's important for your startup to implement a lean startup methodology prior to scaling.

✅ You’re turning away clients

Very clear evidence for the need to scale is when your resources aren't capable of keeping up with new client demand.

But this observation is only true if your internal processes are set up to be as lean and efficient as possible. Turning away clients due to poor internal operations is not an indication of the need to scale, but rather indicative of your need to fix the back end processes of your startup.

It's simple to distinguish between each of these scenarios:

If you're turning away new clients because your time is mainly occupied with servicing current clients then you're in a position to scale

If you're turning away new clients because your internal processes are running inefficiently, you aren't in a position to start scaling.

✅ Solid team structure

As a startup is developing, staff members are often required to take on extra responsibilities outside of their usual operations in order to support the workload of the entire team. These extra responsibilities only increase as the organization adjusts to the increased workload during scaling.

If camaraderie is not an attribute of your team (starting with the founders and transcending through to all other departments), you can't expect your startup to survive the stressful high demands that are associated with scaling.

Establish a strong team comprised of members who love working together and believe in what you're trying to achieve before any scaling attempts.

Creating a high performance team requires a balance between effective leadership and supportive culture development.

Preparing your startup for scaling

In order for your startup to scale effectively, all processes need to run autonomously without your constant intervention. This will keep all your operations lean as you scale.

Let’s discuss some of the necessary upgrades you need to implement in order to ensure that your scaling efforts are always under control 

Establish business intelligence dashboards for your startup

business intelligence dashboards

Action movies such as The Bourne Identity include scenes of monitoring departments illuminated by an array of computer screens hung along its walls.

This allows the personnel of these departments to monitor all of the important aspects of their operations from a single vantage point.

Likewise, you also need the ability to track all aspects of your startup instantly from a single vantage point without flipping between multiple pages and waiting for emails.

A setup like this helps you gauge the health status of your startup at all times and identifies key areas that require your immediate intervention.

Here's an example of how business intelligence dashboards might help you identify the cause of a hypothetical problem.

Let’s say you notice a downward trend in sales (current compared to historical) which prompts you to perform a deeper investigation into the performance of each individual sales channel.

Narrowing the cause of this downward trend to a single sales channel (say, Facebook) could reveal that a sales campaign was accidentally paused. Or that the landing page that links to the sales campaign is down.

Without these dashboards in place, a dip like this would go undetected and inefficient operations would continue until they're finally discovered (which might occur too late). 

When scaling, you can't afford these issues to occur unnoticed. 

This ability to almost instantly identify an issue and its cause will help you establish strong control of your startup and ensure that you're well prepared for scaling.

There are software solutions that allow you to set up this vital data feedback mechanism and can be projected via various monitors in your office.

The software required to create such dashboards does come at a cost, and the correct 

integration of your key metrics with this software does take both time and skill.

A cost effective and time efficient alternative is to outsource this task to a Technical Co-Pilot.

For those who prefer to keep things linked to the bone, we've outlined a list of suggested dashboards for you to establish, as well as some software solutions that will help you set them up.

Business intelligence dashboards every startup needs

CEO dashboard

This is a dashboard specifically designed for all the directors of a startup. It's an aggregate of all the key metrics that summarize the overall performance of a startup.

Here's a list of suggested metrics to keep track of:

  • Total number of customers.

  • Annual recurring revenue (ARR).

  • Unique operational KPIs for each of your departments.

  • Conversion lead to win rate (this is the rate at which leads convert to your solution)

The metrics you choose to display on your dashboard will be unique to your situation. Your end goal should be to ascertain the health status of your entire startup at a glance.

Refer to the below example director dashboard for inspiration:

ceo business intelligence dashboard

Figure 4 - CEO dashboard example - venturebeat.com

ceo dashboard 2

Figure 5 - CEO dashboard example - geckoboard.com

ceo dashboard 3

Figure 6 - CEO dashboard example- chartio.com

Sales dashboard 

You should also provide each of your core teams a dashboard to refer to to help them track  their progress.

If you reward high performing staff or teams, a dashboard will provide ongoing motivation for them to meet their reward targets.

A sales dashboard is a great tool for all startups to have. Track the sales streaming in from all channels to ensure your organization is always receiving a healthy inflow of revenue.

Some examples of sales dashboards:

sales dashboard

Figure 7 - Sales dashboard example -  chartio.com

sales dashboard 2

Figure 8 - Sales dashboard example - venturebeat.com

Marketing dashboard 

A marketing dashboard will help your marketing team track the performance of all campaigns in real time.

Your marketing team will have the ability to identify poor performing campaigns and then instantly make the necessary adjustments to keep operations as lean as possible.

Marketing dashboards come in various forms. You could have a dashboard dedicated to each individual channel or display an overview of all marketing performance.

Most dashboard software solutions offer integration with all major ad platforms (such as Google Ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads etc). This allows your dashboards to track the performance of each individual campaigns in real time. 

Some marketing dashboard examples:

social media marketing dashboard

Figure 9 - Social media marketing dashboard - venturebeat.com

ppc and seo dashboard

Figure 10 - PPC and organic performance metrics - venturebeat.com

lead generation dashboard

Figure 11 - lead generation metrics - venturebeat.com

Customer support dashboard 

As a startup, you're not only developing a new solution, but also a new reputation. During the fragile early stages of a startup, you can't afford to taint your image. 

One of the best ways of ensuring that you establish a positive reputation as early as possible is to respond to customer issues in a timely manner.

A customer support dashboard will help your user engagement team to keep track of all support tickets as well as the time it takes for each ticket to be resolved.

You could use this data to help you cultivate an efficient support process and also discover any potential product improvements. 

Here's an example of a customer support dashboard:

customer support dashboard

Figure 12 - Customer support dashboard - venturebeat.com

Development dashboard 

Your development team can also benefit from a dashboard.

If your business solution is outside of tech, you could adjust this dashboard to display your unique business solution metrics.

A dashboard can help your development team keep track of all bugs and their fixes.

Here's an example of a development intelligence dashboard:

development dashboard

Figure 13 - Development dashboard - venturebeat.com

Business intelligence software examples

There are many business intelligence software options available. Each of them come with their own unique set of integration capabilities

Before purchasing any of the software be sure to check whether the tools you are currently using to run your business are capable of integrating with it.

If any of these software solutions don't have a pre-built connector for your business tools, you could possibly have a unique connector built with the assistance of a software developer.

Below is a list of some popular dashboard software solution options:

Klipfolio

Geckoboard

Chartio

Automate all operations 

business scaling startup automate operations

The final loose end to tie before scaling your startup is to automate all processes so that your operations do not require extensive manual intervention.

if you launch your startup with a Technical Co-Pilot, you should have this established from day one.

With a fully established staffing structure and all your dashboards in place, you may actually have complete automation already achieved.

Any remaining administrative tasks that you're still needlessly handling should be outsourced to either internal or external staff (freelancers).

Establish a strong communications channel 

business development startup communications

Communication is a key component to have efficiently established before scaling. Once your startup is in a position to start operating autonomously you'll be free to step away and focus on strategic growth.

This might involve you leaving the office to establish relationships with external partners, which shouldn't interrupt communication with your team.

Of course, the industry standard for intra-office communication is Slack. But if you don't want to spend the money on a SaaS tool, Whatsapp and Viber are both great communication solutions, and they’re absolutely free.

Whatsapp has also released a business suite that allows you to communicate with customers directly. You also have the option of automating messages to help you maintain a quick response rate

Finally, you should have the ability to track the progress of all projects while outside of the office.

There are a few very powerful options available:

Jira

Asana

Trello

Monday

A great feature of these solutions is the ability to comment and attach files at every individual stage of a project’s development. So your team members can keep you well informed on the daily progress of a project.

These tools also have associated mobile apps so you can keep track of all projects, from any location, straight from your mobile device.

More scaling methods

business development startup scaling options

It might surprise you to know that If you've been following our guide up until this point you've already commenced scaling your startup.

Scaling is the process of multiplying your efforts, so if you've established a full triangular staff structure, your startup has been scaled to a milestone size.

With your organization scaled from the inside, it's now time to scale your customer acquisition efforts.

You can use the analytics provided to you via your marketing dashboard to scale the efforts of your most effective campaigns.

You can continue with this process of carefully scaling efficient marketing campaigns and monitoring the response of your startup via dashboard data until you decide to let your foot off the gas.

There are a few situations that might warrant a cessation to scaling:

  1. Your marketing campaigns have lost their potency and you need to come up with new strategies.

  2. Your product requires urgent repair, or your service solution needs urgent reconstruction.

  3.  Key staff members aren't available.

  4. Technical issues within the business (power outage or major software bugs etc).

If controlled customer base scaling is not your style, there's a special category of scaling designed to help you achieve the highest possible growth in the shortest amount of time. It's a phrase startups love.

We're talking, of course, about growth hacking.

Growth hacking for startups

The goal with growth hacking is to achieve an autonomous chain reaction of multiplying growth.

An example of growth hacking being executed correctly is the success story of Hotmail.

Yes, you may have forgotten that Hotmail existed, but it used to dominate the email provider market. The company used a very simple growth hacking strategy to increase their user base from 20,000 to about 1 million in only six months.

They simply added a tagline to the bottom of each sent email which read:

“Get your FREE email at Hotmail”

This was hyperlinked. It led users directly to the Hotmail signup page.

This was effective for two reasons:

  1. They piggy-backed a natural action of their users

Users were sending emails with this message automatically added, so there was no additional effort required by the user.

Hotmail also piggybacked an action that multiplied the exposure of this message every single time it was executed.

  1. They used effective marketing words

The word FREE is very hard to ignore, so clicking on the hyperlink was a natural response.

The best growth hacking strategies incorporate powerful marketing words that are designed to achieve active responses.

Hotmail’s tactics provides us with a framework for a highly effective growth hacking strategy.

An effective growth hacking strategy:

  • Accomplishes a conversion in as few steps as possible.

  • Requires little to no effort by the user.

  • Gives the user a compelling reason to convert.

  • Achieves a chain reaction of exposure.

  • Manipulates user intent with creative content (marketing words, videos pics etc).

We've used this framework to compile a list of effective growth strategies for you.

You could choose to incorporate any one of these strategies or a selection of them.

Your choice of growth strategies should be appealing to your audience and not a tactic that's likely to alienate them.

For example, if you were selling orthopedic shoes to seniors, doubling down on a Snapchat filter campaign might not be your best bet.

Know your audience well and always curate your marketing efforts based on their unique personalities. To achieve this you need to first create detailed customer personas (just like we discussed in chapter 2).

Growth Hack #1: Referral incentives

growth hacking referral incentives

This is a slight variation of Hotmail’s growth hacking strategy, but instead of your users unknowingly spreading the word about your solution, you convince them to actively do it.  

But how do you convince your customers to willingly tell others about your solution?

By rewarding them for doing so.

A very effective reward is a free feature upgrade. Dropbox utilises this growth hacking tactic by offering their users up to 16GB of extra storage space if they successfully refer a friend.

This tactic has helped Dropbox grow by an incredible 3900%!

growth hacking dropbox referral program

Figure 14 - Dropbox referral incentive program.

If you're offering a tech solution, you could offer an upgrade to your customers in the form of either a feature or service.

If your solution is solely service based, you could offer your customers additional services. 

But be very careful when deciding upon your referral incentives (especially if it’s a service upgrade). Your reward should be attractive, cost effective, delivered quickly and, most importantly, scalable.

Use the audacious growth rate of Dropbox as a reference when deciding on your referral incentives:

If you keep offering clients free additional consultation hours for each referral, and your business grows by 3900%, will you be capable of scaling your operations at the same rate as this growth?

Service upgrades that demand too many resources are not efficient referral incentives. Tech add-ons are much simpler to scale, and much faster to implement.

Another important lesson from Dropbox’s strategy is that little effort is required by users to send referral requests.

Only two actions are required:

  1. Input an email (or multiple in the one field)

  2. Click send.

If you overwhelm users with too many steps, your referral rate will be very low, no matter how valuable your referral reward may be.

So make your referral process as minimal as possible and help your users as much as possible (auto-populating fields etc).

If you want to encourage your clients to send multiple referrals, you can implement a means for them to track the status of each referral via a dashboard.

Dropbox has implemented a dashboard like this for their users:

growth hacking dropbox referral dashboard

Figure 15 - Dropbox referral dashboard

This makes the process feel more like a game as your users keep checking the dashboard score and aiming to increase it.

In fact, depending on whether this fits with your business persona, you could turn this process into a fun game by offering reward upgrades at each new referral milestone.

Integrating games into marketing campaigns is a highly effective strategy because it encourages high levels of engagement.

This tactic is a growing trend in the marketing world. It’s known as gamification.

Growth Hack #2: Gamification Marketing 

growth hacking gamification marketing

Gamification marketing is the process of converting leads through game-like content. This strategy is particularly effective because gaming is such a popular form of entertainment.

To help you appreciate the potency of this marketing strategy, here are a few gaming stats:

  • The video gaming market is expected to be worth over $90 US billion dollars by 2020

growth hacking projected video game market value

Figure 16 - Projected video game market value - Source: wepc.com

  • Over half of the US population is into gaming 

According to 2018, gamers accounted for 66% of the entire US population!

growth hacking gamification penetration of gamers

Figure 17 - Penetration rate of gamers amongst the US population from 2013 - 2018. 

  • Gamers spend an average of 6 hours playing games every week.

growth hacking gamification global average gaming time

Figure 18 - Global average game time

As you can see, the gaming industry is monstrous, and the users are “sticky” meaning that they spend a considerable amount of time on the platform.

If you can successfully integrate your business solution with this network, it could result in a colossal number of conversions.

To deploy a gamification marketing campaign you will need three things:

  1. A gaming concept that ties in naturally with your business solution.

  2. A conversion strategy (to convert leads from the gaming platform)

  3. A means of developing the game.

You could either hire an inhouse software development team to create your gamification concept or outsource the work via your Technical Co-Pilot.

Choosing a gamification concept

To help inspire your gaming concept and conversion strategy, let's take a look at an example of a highly effective gamification concept.

Nike running club

growth hacking gamification nike running club

Figure 19 - Nike Run app on Google Play

Nike launched a mobile app aimed at runners. The application tracked running statistics and also allowed users to measure their progression towards personal goals. 

The application tapped into the natural competitive nature of its users, that coupled with the self-development statistics outlined above, resulted in a very high usage rate.

The Nike running club app achieves conversions by sporadically encouraging its users to purchase a new pair of running shoes from their store to maintain running progress.

These conversion messages are displayed in tandem with a congratulatory message whenever a running milestone is achieved:

growth hacking gamification nike running app

Figure 20 - Nike Run app on Google Play

Users are most likely to consider Nike’s offering at this point because they're experiencing a natural high and therefore much less guarded.

 

Growth Hack #3: Be exclusive

growth hacking be exclusive

If you had the choice of attending only one of the following birthday parties, which would you choose?

  1. A birthday celebration at a public park

  2. A birthday celebration at an ultra-exclusive restaurant

Even the most extraordinary introverts would feel compelled to attend the exclusive restaurant party because it’s … well … exclusive.

You could go to the park at any time, but not an exclusive restaurant.

  • Why is it exclusive?

  • What do they do that’s so special?

  • I don’t want to miss my chance to find out!

These are some of the thoughts that might race through your mind after receiving such an invitation.

Exclusive invites a very powerful because they play upon the natural tendency of a person to avoid missing out on enjoyable activities (FOMO).

Pinterest took advantage of the FOMO concept by initially being an "invitation only" platform. The only method of having access to the platform was to receive an invite from a friend.

growth hacking pinterest invitation only

Figure 21 - Pinterest started as an invite-only platform.

Anyone trying to sign up to Pinterest would receive a message advising that the platform is invite only, and that the only way to gain access otherwise was to submit their email to join a waiting list.

When a prospect reached the first position in the queue they would receive an email advising them that they now had access to the platform.

You can imagine how quickly these leads jumped at the chance to open their email and sign up before they missed out again!

The reason this tactic was such a success for Pinterest is because they focused on firmly establishing their brand awareness first.

There's no point in setting up a waiting list system if nobody knows or cares about your solution; they'll just bounce off your page, never sign up and forget about you.

For fresh startups, Pinterest's strategy can be slightly modified to incorporate a brand awareness campaign.

While executing a brand awareness campaign, on the signup page of your solution include a message stating that there are only a limited number of free sign ups available.

This will compel prospects to convert while they can, playing into their fear of missing out.

Once you've reached a substantial level of brand awareness (reflected by the number of signups to your solution) you could initiate Pinterest’s waiting list tactic.

Growth Hack #4: Take advantage of a popular network

Spotify grew their platform subscribers by taking advantage of Facebook’s popularity. 

Spotify listeners had the option of sharing a song they were listening to on their Facebook profile. Users who clicked on this post were directed to the Spotify app.

Because Facebook has millions of users, this eventually resulted in millions of new signups to Spotify.

In order for this strategy to work you, the following criteria have to be met:

  1. You need to provide value to the platform you are leveraging traffic from.

The value Spotify offered Facebook users was the ability to freely listen to whatever song was being shared.

The free access was limited, but just enough to spark compelling interest in the platform. This is also a growth hacking tactic known as "freemium" (more about this shortly).

  1. There must be an interest overlap between your audience and the audience of the platform you're leveraging traffic from.

People make friends with those who share the same interests. This is why Spotify was capable of achieving such a high conversion rate with this strategy. The friends of those who shared these posts were likely to have the same musical interests, and as a result, listen to the song on Spotify. 

WIth leads now using the platform and instantly enjoying its features, only one powerful action was required to convince leads to convert and enjoy more of Spotify’s features:

A free subscription.

Growth Hack #5: Freemium 

growth hacking freemium

Freemium is a highly effective conversion strategy because it's very hard to resist a great product that is free.

This is the key to this strategy’s success: the product needs to be of very high quality. That's the “wow” factory that will spark incredible growth. You want users to:

  1. Be surprised that such a high value solution is free, and therefore instantly convert.

  2. Instinctively share the solution with others who could benefit from it (thereby building brand awareness and achieving conversions at the same time).

The other benefit to offering a free membership is that reviewers are likely to try out your solution and create reviews for it, either by blogging about it or recording a YouTube video.

This is free marketing for your solution, which will result in another channel of traffic flowing to your website and growth hacking your conversions.

If you focus on offering a high quality product, you won't have to worry about any reviews being overly negative, so you will have high converting traffic flowing in from all directions.

What is freemium?

It is important to understand the difference between a freemium subscription and a free trial.

A free trial is only free for a limited time; if time is not a constraint the features are heavily limited.

Feature-constrained free trials are usually constrained the point of minimal usability, which is not an efficient conversion strategy. 

Users are unlikely to convert to a paid subscription if the free experience was a poor one.

A freemium subscription is one that provides users with a high value experience for a limitless amount of time. 

Users convert to a paid subscription because they love using the product and want to upgrade to an even better experience.

To give you an example of an effective freemium model, let’s return to our friend Dropbox.

Dropbox provides new users with 2GB of free cloud storage. If users decide to just stick to the free subscription, it's still a highly enjoyable experience:

  • Users are set up on the platform in a few short minutes.

  • The navigational experience (UX) is very clean and intuitive.

  • The solution works perfectly with little to no errors encountered.

  • There's a mobile application gateway that can be freely downloaded allowing users to access stored files straight from their mobile devices at all times.

If it sounds like we're trying to sell the Dropbox solution to you, that's evidence of Dropbox executing an effective growth hacking strategy:

  • Their product is so good users are inclined to tell others about it.

  • Those that hear about it are highly likely to convert because it’s free.

  • Now these new users will enjoy the product and tell their friends about it, thereby continuing the chain reaction.

So Dropbox’s growth strategy is a combination of both a freemium model and a referral incentive model.

No wonder they grew by 3900%!

Dropbox encourages users to sign up to a paid subscription by displaying messages offering extra storage in exchange for a subscription upgrade.

The key to successfully growth hacking your user-base is by primarily focusing on the development of a top quality product your users love; if you give leads little to no reason to doubt your offering, your product will naturally promote itself.

If you’ve been following our guide through to this final chapter, your business should be structured around the development of a premium quality product with the highest chances of selling.

Conclusion

Congratulations on finishing this 7-part ultimate guide to starting a business.

We’d like to take this opportunity to first of all, applaud you, the reader,  for deciding to take ownership of your financial situation by attempting something most are afraid of even trying: launching your very own business.

And secondly encourage to pursue this venture to completion. 

The key to establishing a successful business is to emulate the strategies of other successful businesses. All of the strategies outlined in this guide were modelled from a collection of thriving businesses that demonstrated their effectiveness first-hand.

As a result, by following this guide, you'll have a very good chance of establishing a successful business of your own.

That being said, because the correct application of each of these strategies is entirely dependent upon the situational decisions of each individual reader, we can't guarantee that this business guide will 100% help you build a successful business.

If you require any assistance, you should seek the guidance of a business consultant or similar professional body.

To discuss how our Technical Co-Pilot service can help you build your business, head to www.freelancer.com/project-management/. We'd love to play an influential role in helping you achieve your dreams.

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Kaa Ukiwa Umesasishwa

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