7 Sure Signs You Are Ready to Hire a Growth Marketer
The dominant paradigm in the startup world is that growth is everything. As Paul Graham wrote in his seminal post, “The only essential thing [for a startup] is growth.”
It’s no wonder then that founders often look to hire a growth marketing consultant, agency or a full-time growth marketer as early as possible and expect them to work their magic. But hiring one does not necessarily mean your business will grow the way you expect.
When you focus on fast growth too early, you are likely to fail. So, when should you bring a growth marketer onboard? Here is how to tell you are ready to hire one to take your business to the next level.
1. You have achieved product/market fit
Product/market fit is the fulcrum to which a growth marketer will apply a growth lever. So, don’t go looking for a growth marketer if you haven’t built a great product or service that customers want.
You’ll be wasting money on bringing leads that either won’t convert or churn. Instead, your product must resonate with a target audience and demonstrate strong organic adoption.
A growth marketer won’t help you find your way to product/market fit. You understand the business, the product, and the customer better than anyone else, regardless of their expertise. If you are not yet at product/market fit, you should focus on talking to customers, iterating the product, and refining your target market until you reach a comfortable traction point.
2. You have a scalable business
The investment in hiring a growth marketer is justified if your business can generate incrementally more profit. To do that, it has to be scalable.
Entrepreneurs love scalable businesses, but what does that really mean? There are two attributes that make a business scalable: operating leverage, in other words the potential to grow revenue with minimal incremental cost, and large addressable market.
A SaaS platform, an ecommerce store and a marketplace are all examples of scalable businesses that would greatly benefit from bringing growth marketing expertise. On the other hand, a local store, a consultancy, and a web design agency are examples of businesses that are not scalable and would not see the value from getting a growth marketer involved.
3. You have infrastructure and processes in place
While growth is your top priority, do not make the same mistake that many startups make. Before you can scale, you need to make sure you are in a strong position as an organization to handle the growth that you expect to come your way. If you begin to grow without setting the right foundation, you will find your resources stretched thin, impacting customer service levels and your brand’s reputation.
It starts with having a healthy technical infrastructure, including both hardware and software, that can handle an influx of new customers. You also want to make sure you have structure and documentation around operational processes, such as customer support or employee onboarding, so that they are carried out efficiently and consistently as you grow in size.
4. You know how to scale your team
A strong core team got you here, but as you move into the next growth phase, you will need additional resources. And you need to have a hiring strategy before you start scaling.
Have you identified the key operational areas that you will need to build up? Do you have a strong network and a pipeline of relationships? Do you know where to go to get the talent you need?
Make sure you are comfortable with your ability to scale your team. If you start thinking about these questions after you see strong growth, it will be too late and you will be time-pressured into making bad hires.
5. You know how to fund your growth
Entrepreneurs seeking to expand should have a strong handle on their financial footing.
Sure, not many businesses are profitable at the start. But whether you are bootstrapping or have secured initial outside capital, you need to understand your path to profitability, how much financial runway you have, and your options for getting additional funding.
It’s important to forecast what your revenues and costs will look like in a fast growth scenario, so you understand the size of the potential financing gap before you invest in hiring a growth marketer.
Even if your business is now profitable, it may require upfront capital investment to support larger scale. Be sure to assess your likely financing needs and your ability to fund them.
6. You have adopted a growth mindset
The mindset of small bets, quick iteration, and creative thinking is a hallmark of growth marketers. Their willingness to experiment, learn, and embrace failure in the pursuit of growth is what makes them different from traditional marketers.
To work with them effectively, you need to be comfortable with their approach and adopt the same mindset. Accept their methodology of testing potential growth drivers and be prepared that it will take time and some failures before they can identify scalable and profitable customer acquisition channels for your business.
7. You understand growth yourself
Few founders have experience with growth marketing or have hired and managed growth marketers before. As for any other role, you should not hire a growth marketer without first sitting down and making a conscious effort to educate yourself on the basics.
Making a hire in an unfamiliar function with a fuzzy job description and lots of cross-functional responsibilities is fraught with risks. Without understanding the fundamentals of growth marketing, you won’t know how to evaluate and manage a growth marketer, resulting in a bad hire and damage to your bottom line.
You can also enlist an adviser or a mentor who has domain knowledge and experience in hiring growth talent to help you navigate the hiring process.
Growth is the key to your startup’s success, but savvy founders know that measured growth is sometimes a smarter strategy than the aggressive expansion you can’t handle.
A startup will generally look to hire a growth marketer once it has a product/market fit, a scalable product, and confidence about how it can operationally and financially support fast growth. By cultivating a growth mindset and garnering basic domain knowledge, you will put yourself in a position to hire a growth marketer and get the results you want.