5 Growth Principles I Learned While at Hubspot
It’s almost been 3 year since I left Hubspot to join my next unicorn tech startup. I’ve had time to look back and reflect on some of the things they did really well. It turns out, some of the most valuable lessons weren’t clever hacks or short cuts, they were time tested methodologies that only the great companies get right over and over.
Here’s 5 core culture principles they got really right when it comes to growth.
Solve for EV
As a former professional poker player, I obsessed over making not just the “right” play, but one that would net me the greatest expected return in the long-run. Whether it’s poker or a business, it’s human nature to put an easy win on the scoreboard, even if it will cost you a few point in the long run. Humans are not fans of pain, and our brains are designed to avoid uncomfortable situations. However when you’re competing at the highest levels, you must make the decisions that others may be too short sighted to make. That’s where the profit comes from.
Good companies will incentivize their employees to win. Great companies will incentivize their teams to find max value.
This all come down to the classic 80/20 principle, where 80% of your results come from 20% of the things you do. It’s not enough to find a high leverage opportunity, you have to commit to those learnings and squeeze every bit of value you can get before the competition catches on - and they will.
This concept couldn’t be more true in Hubspot’s case - where when we conducted an analysis of which content from our blog drove the most revenue. It turns out 80% of our pipeline came from ~20% of the content. Those internal learnings drove a competitive advantage in SEO for quite some time before it became common knowledge.
As soon as you know something isn’t working, shift that energy to bigger payoffs. It’s simple, but if you can’t say ‘No’ to the low payoff items, you’ll never completely commit to change.
When you’re in a company that values learning & evolving quickly, that means you must adapt or die. No better example of this than when I initially joined the customer success team and we had just began to experiment with more scalable customer retention strategies. If we wanted to win, we couldn’t sustain a 1:1 relationship with our customers, and that meant I too had to learn new things & challenge myself. Sticking in there and battling through some of the more challenging business problems that weren’t figured out yet was in hindsight, some of the best experience I could have asked for.
Maintain High Execution Velocity
Growth requires a lot of rapid iteration to learn and find value. That rapid iteration creates compounding returns. It’s unlikely you’re going to find one magic bullet, so you’ve got to take many shots to find the big wins. One often overlooked concept is you need to build a team who get each others backs when inevitable failure happens. If something doesn’t work out, it’s ok, move onto the next thing, because it could be the one that pays off and you can’t get there if you’re stuck on your last project.