The most famous growth hack used in sports was by Sir David Brailsford, who became the performance director of British Cycling in 2003. Brailsford used the concept known as marginal gains – making small improvements that add up to major improvements when added together – to improve the performance of the team. In Brailsfords case, he set out to improve every area of the British cycling team by 1%. This ranged from testing various types of anti-bacterial gel used by the cycling team to reduce infections, to experimenting in a wind tunnel and discovering that the bikes were not aerodynamic enough. The result? At the 2004 Olympic Games, the British cycling team won two gold medals, their best performance since 1908. Since then, the team has gone from strength to strength, winning eight gold medals and 12 silver medals at the 2008 Olympics, and eight gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Brailsford might not know it, but he growth hacked the Olympics. And like him, you can growth hack your business to success, too – just like an Olympian.
Here are three tips to growth hack your way to business success.
1. Build it and A/B test it
It used to be that companies would spend years developing a product, and then release it to market when they were fully-tested and fully-formed. No longer. Nowadays, its all about being agile. Brailsford understood that. His minimum gains approach meant that he tested various types of antibacterial gel on the team, at the same time, to find the best one that reduced the risk of infection. In the long term, this resulted in fewer infections for the team – a major improvement.
Your startup should be no different. Create your product, test it with different audiences, and measure your results. In other words; build fast, test fast.
2. Develop an unhealthy obsession with your customer
Brailsford said: First and foremost, I work for the riders.
Brailsford prioritized the riders, because he understood that it was the best way to get optimum performance out of the team. Its a simple, yet effective growth hack that yielded great results for the team, and you can get the same results for your business.
Your first commitment is to your customers. When youre starting out, its tempting to think of customer feedback as a personal assault on your business. However, all feedback no matter how bad, is good for business. Think of it as your real-life testing ground. Simple comments like, I like it, but if it had x feature, I would like it even more, are great opportunities to create new products that you might not have thought of.
3. Think small, act big
Startups often think that they need a lot of money to develop their product or service. But that is not necessarily the case. While its good to be ambitious (think big), sometimes, the best way is the Brailsfords way. Focus on the 1% of each process or aspect of your business, make those changes, and soon enough, youll see big improvements in your product or service offering.
This could be by creating a minimum viable product (MVP), releasing it to market, iterating until its perfect, and then releasing the final version. The iteration process need not be long winded. Make the changes you need to make to your product, quickly and efficiently, and put back on the market. This will help save time and costs, and also help you to build a superior product in the long term.
You may not be an Olympian, but by implementing these growth hacks in your business, you should be able to see some improvements in your business.