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So you want to build a high growth web startup? (Part 3)

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by Startacus Admin


Build yourself a great team
One of the most enjoyable parts of building a startup for me is creating an awesome team from scratch. We are engaged in this process now at StorkUp, and rather than repeat myself, I’ll just direct you to my recent post on this topic.

Growth Hacking for fun and profit
Growth hacking is my current obsession – mainly because we are now at the stage with StorkUp where we need to grow our user base! The term itself brings together a bunch of disciplines (SEO, outbound web startupmarketing, analytics, etc) and groups them under a single phrase that spells out the main objective behind doing all this stuff: getting growth!

There is a lot of stuff on the web about growth hacking – I’d recommend checking out this Quora page which links to a bunch of useful resources (or just search for ‘growth hacking’ on Google). If you just want a tl;dr at this stage, then a great summary can be found here. There can be a bit of temptation, especially amongst first time founders, to outsource things like SEO and other aspects of marketing. You might get lucky doing this, but ultimately, you are skipping over a learning process that will be core to the success of your startup.

Some tasks can be successfully outsourced – if you end up with a big Adwords budget, then you either need to hire a specialist or use an external one, as they can make the difference between success and failure (especially in competitive verticals).

However, SEO is definitely not in the same category. If you are building a web app, then you need to be baking in SEO from day one. Think about how you can combine human created content with algorithmic content, but ensure you don’t fall foul of Google’s frequent purges. It is worth shelling out $300 for a month’s subscription to SEOBook – just make sure it is during a month that you can devote a lot of time reading all the posts Aaron Wall has written and asking heaps of questions to the experts who regularly post on their forums.

Ultimately, a lot of growth hacking boils down to the same core skill – great content creation. From insightful and/or humorous posts to snazzy link-bait infographics, the success of your content generation “engine” will be a key factor in determining the success of your startup.

Groupon, for all their many shortcomings, are the ultimate example of a company that used creative writing to give their email marketing a killer edge. If you aren’t confident with your own writing skills, then now is the time to sharpen them up. As with most things the best way to get good at writing is to do lots of it. Start guest posting for relevant blogs (which is a good way to boost your SEO as well), crafting funny and engaging email newsletters, etc.

Conclusion

If you are still reading 4,200 words later (part 1 and part 2 included), congratulations for your persistance.This is certainly a skill that you’ll need for building a high growth web startup.

My own persistence has seen me through a journey that has lasted 13 years and counting, building skills and learning new things. During this time I’ve ‘officially’ done three startups as well as various other ventures. My scorecard so far is, like many entrepreneurs, somewhat mixed. My first company became a solid lifestyle business, my second hit hyper-growth (£0 – £7m turnover in less than 3 years) before flaming out during the banking crisis, and my third is progressing very nicely – thanks to my brilliant co-founders Fiona and Claire, and our awesome lead investors, Bauer Consumer Media.

I guess my motivation for spending two weekend evenings writing this post is to try and help other entrepreneurs get to the stage where they can launch, fund and grow a web startup in less time than it has taken me. I hope that some of what I’ve written above will help someone, somewhere, move the needle in their startup. If that person is you, then it has been a worthwhile exercise indeed!

Of course, this post is just a collection of my personal opinions. As such don’t treat it as anything other than some more data to add to the mix. You have chosen the path of a startup founder and your fate is in your own hands.

Good luck!
Craig – @lefthandme
Entrepreneurial Spark Start-Up

Cheers Craig from Startacus for this mammoth and quite excellent read! 


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Published on: 14th May 2013

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