The First Growth Hack – Creating a Culture of Growth

By: Jeff Goldenberg

As more and more companies learn about growth hacking and see the growth trajectories of many bootstrapped startups, people are wondering how they can achieve these results for themselves.

The problem is that all the best growth hackers and growth strategies don’t stand a chance unless your company has a culture that will support and encourage the process.

For startups, culture is a malleable work-in-progress.  For more mature companies, culture is either the product of leadership’s conscious culture building efforts, or more likely, the ‘result’ of a culture that has developed.

If you want a culture that fosters growth, here are a few areas to contemplate and focus on.  I’ve intentionally selected areas that can be impacted at any stage of growth, and are tactical in nature.


Discuss Failures Openly

Failures are typically hidden in the closet and never revisited, as they’re often are a source of shame and embarrassment.  I’ve spoken to some of the fastest growing companies in the world, and without exception, they openly discuss their failures and learn from them.  When leadership discusses their failures openly, they send the message to the team that failure is a part of business, and it’s the learning that is important.

Track Your Hypotheses

Every day in offices everywhere, employees are having ideas.  I wonder what would happen if we did this?  Create a system that allows all team members to submit ideas and hypotheses so you can keep track of them and test them over time.   I find that the best growth hackers share a healthy curiosity.  Let this curiosity flourish as it’s where the big ideas live.

Ruthlessly Prioritize

If you’re going to create a culture of growth, then prioritization is the most important discipline. Revisit your hypothesis list weekly, and ensure that the most important tests (the ones that could have the biggest impact on growth) are at the top.  That way, even if you can only devote a limited amount of resource to growth, you’ll at least be working on the most important tests.

Establish a Testing Rhythm

If you only test one thing a week, that’s 50 tests a year.  That’s not so bad.  With 15%-20% of tests typically yielding significant results, that could be 10 key learning’s a year.  Regardless of your testing velocity, establishing a rhythm to your testing will make growth part of your operational routine.

Learn Every Day

Once you have results, let the data replace your hypotheses, and adjust accordingly.  There’s no point in testing if you aren’t ready to implement the results.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available.  Focus in on the 3 or 4 Key Performance Indicators that are the most important to your business model and track them only and obsessively.   Focus your tests on activities that will impact those KPIs directly.

Creating a culture of growth is really important as it’s the foundation upon which your growth team will operate.  Let your failures breath, test every day, and learn something from every day.  Getting 1% better every week will compound extremely quickly.

Let the growth be with you!

Jeff Goldenberg is the Head of Growth at Borrowell, Canada’s leading marketplace lending platform.  He is an Entrepreneur in Residence at MaRS and co-author of the upcoming book The Growth Hacker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which can be backed on Kickstarter at

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