Startup Growth

8 Growth Hacking Rules for Startups

Media loves covering stories of startups that utilized unique hacks to grow their users and business rapidly. It’s become part of the “Facebook” dream (as opposed to the “American” dream) that many millennials have chosen to aspire. Traditional business development rules are broken every day when sites like Uber and Airbnb take off with seemingly unexplainable success, while many online businesses flail around with misleading statistics and unrealistic growth projections in hopes of finding that magic pill that will take them to the top.

According to this article, you are ready to growth hack your business, because at least 40% of your users says that life would not be the same without your product. If you’ve yet to reach that milestone, this article is for you. The rules of growth hacking your startup start long before the startup hockey stick success curve.

Rule #1: Don’t Look For Hacks

Prepare for the long haul in building a successful business.  Many people search for growth hacks like looking for a magic diet pill – a quick fix for success without any hard work. As you’ll notice, there still aren’t any magic diet pills, and there aren’t any 100% guaranteed growth hacks. Looking for shortcuts to massive growth can take you down a path that may bring you some short-term wins, but in the end: value, service, and authentic buzz are the keys to creating a successful company.

Rule #2: Build A Great Product

If your product is really industry shaking, it will grow organically.  Many business owners and marketers try to generate press when the product’s still not quite ready for market. A common belief is early buzz or speed to market is the key to viral success, but if your product/software/service stands out as the best of it’s kind, or completely changes an industry and improves efficiency, that will be your best growth hacking strategy.

Rule #3: Don’t Purchase Social Shares

Arash AsliBlog Image 2There’re ways to pump up your stats by buying traffic, likes, video views, or application installs. This is a big no-no. These users don’t stick around, and Google and Facebook’s algorithms for finding false interactions are getting better and better. It has to be natural in the way someone finds your application and use it because they want to, not because they were paid to be there or tricked into it.

Rule #4: Nurture Your First Customers

Preferably paying customers. Not only can they become your raving reviewers and greatest ambassadors, but they also are your most valuable product testers. Listen to them carefully, watch their interactions with your product to know exactly how their experience is going and be available right away to help them out.

Rule #5: Find Partnerships With Bigger Players

Use strategic partnerships to overcome your business challenges by teaming with larger companies that share the same vision and target market. Or, expand your own target audience by tapping the audiences of your suppliers.

Rule #6: Create An Easy-To-Use Rewarding Referral Program

You need to be dialled into understanding your audience, and where referrals are coming in from. We want to try to make the conversion as easy and seamless as can be. Choose a great incentive structure.

Rule #7: Keep Overhead Low And Value High

When it comes right down to it, cash flow is king.  The more you can keep unnecessary expenses down and invest deeply in product development, customer care, and sales hustle, the better off.

Rule #8: Find A Successful Mentor

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Hack your startup by using the expertise and experience of a successful startup founder or investor. Their knowledge can be crucial in helping you bypass pitfalls and distractions.

Startup incubator programs have a great mentoring process in place if you already have a start-up with some traction and show you’re ready to hustle for success.  Alternatively, there is mentoring available at and Successful mentors are busy and have been successful for a reason. Don’t expect them to jump at the chance to give you their “spare” time to motivate and teach you. Read their blog posts, listen to any advice they have already shared before even initially asking for some mentoring. An excellent approach is to offer to intern or provide some value to them first.

The process of growth hacking is actually very simple and straightforward. Start by asking the traditional question “How do I get more customers for my product?”

Author Bio: Arash Asli is at the forefront of business growth. As Co-founder and CEO of Yocale, he has a unique blend of technology, business development, corporate, and finance experience. Arash is honored to have been named the Business in Vancouver’s Top Forty under 40 business executive.


Why Business Startup

Why in the Heck Would You Start a Business?

Having been involved as a founder, investor or early-stage employee at over a dozen startup ventures, I have a few entrepreneurial chops to draw upon. One of the companies I helped start was eventually sold for $500 million and a few didn’t make it, with all the others falling somewhere in between. So why did I participate in these speculative ventures and why do so many of us put our time, energy, passion and finances into launching a new business. Here are a few of the motivating factors and my brief thoughts on each.

Flexibility. Most entrepreneurs crave freedom from the 9 to 5 routine. What they often end up with is a more demanding schedule than being a so-called wage slave, but the point is; they have more self-determination and flexibility, and these can be precious commodities.

Desire to be your own boss. How many times have you had a desire to fire your #$%& boss? In my career I’ve had some terrific bosses but also a couple that made my working life painful. I’m sure the same is true for you. One answer to this problem is to fire the boss and go to work for yourself. But consider this carefully because if you don’t have the right discipline, skillset and financial backing, you may prove to be a poor boss indeed.

Money. The desire to build wealth is a big driver of new businesses. There is a misconception among some that entrepreneurs are getting rich but this is not necessarily the case. According to Payscale, the average small business owner earns $71,600 per year. Many make more but a large number make less – sometimes far less.

Passion about a new idea.  Although I tell my entrepreneur students not to fall too much in love with their idea (since most businesses need to pivot) – many great ventures were started based on a dream about how a particular product or service could solve a large problem. Working on something that really matters to you can reap large dividends.

Lifestyle. Whether it is the freedom to work from home, or to take extra vacations, there are large lifestyle implications to being a business owner (good and bad). One of the best ways to transform your life is to combine a hobby or avocation with a marketplace need. As Harvey MacKay put it, “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life”.

Security. Like several of the other factors, security is a double edged sword. On the one hand, if your startup is successful, you can create an independent economic asset that provides you way more security than the average corporate job. Conversely, small businesses do have a high failure rate so the security is relative.

Learning. Entrepreneurs sometimes start ventures because they are fascinated by a particular subject and want to use the business to develop their skillsets. Of course you do need enough knowledge about your business to satisfy customers out of the gate.

Fun. Never underestimate fun as a driver of new business startups. Of course not all days in an entrepreneur’s life are blissful, but once the company is established, very few business owners want to go back to the paycheck lifestyle.

There are other factors motivating new venture creation – for example: an inability to find suitable employment, the need for part-time income, or simply for the opportunity to test oneself in the marketplace. Regardless of why you choose to take the entrepreneurial path, make sure you have a good blend of solid reasoning and strong motivation. And remember that the “why” you do something is often more important to success than what you actually do.

Sales Curiosity

Curiosity Killed the Cat (But It Made the Sale)

In my work with sales teams all over the world, I am often asked about what is the most critical trait for a successful salesperson. My answer is always the same: “Genuine curiosity.” Curiosity is like a Swiss Army knife with all the attachments. It gets the job done in nearly every situation and is easy to access once you’ve got it in your tool kit. Curiosity helps you:

  1. Build customer relationships. You will notice a different level of respect from your clients when you show an authentic level of interest in them as individuals and their company. Humans respond extremely well to this almost without exception.
  2. Increase your business acumen. Being curious about your own industry and the industries of your prospects drives you to learn more. As you satisfy your curiosity, you augment your ability to add value to your customer’s business. Clients want to know that you have invested in learning about their ecosystem: industry, customer set, products, services and impact trends.
  3. Be believable and sincere. You ask questions that uncover needs because you are genuinely curious, not because it’s in the training manual. People can tell from your demeanor that you’re being natural and not formulaic.
  4. Solve customer problems. Sales reps who aren’t curious about what makes people tick and why technology works (or doesn’t) don’t solve customer problems; they just sell “stuff.” Curiosity enables you to create unique solutions to their unique issues.
  5. Negotiate successful contracts. Your ability to understand the positions of the other party is directly dependent upon your ability to be truly curious about them. If you’re not curious, you’ll end up arguing about issues that aren’t important.
  6. Correct sales errors. When a customer buys from somebody else (or doesn’t buy from anyone), if you’re not curious about what happened, you won’t bother to find out why — and therefore can’t learn to turn your failures into future successes.
  7. In short, curiosity is at the core of truly successful business efforts. If you don’t have curiosity, you can’t expect to be successful as an entrepreneur, a salesperson or even as an engineer. Period.

Note: this post originally appeared at May 27, 2016