So you were hired as the Head of Growth at a startup, now what?
So You Were Hired As The Head Of Growth At


I’ve spent the majority of the final 13 years working at startups. I really like startups. I’m hooked on the motion and the power.

I used to be one of the first 200 staff at HubSpot, again in 2011, and noticed first hand what a rocket ship felt like from the inside. Then I used to be worker quantity 40 at Wistia, the place I began and scaled the Growth Staff, and later led the advertising efforts for his or her video advertising product.

However, after I accepted a new function as Head of Growth function at Postscript, a YC firm, again in November, I felt nervous to start out over.

I used to be excited to place my stamp on the firm and assist them scale, however I wasn’t positive the right way to strategy my first 90 days in a development management function at a new startup.

I needed to hit the floor operating. After I accepted the function, my mind began buzzing with concepts of all the issues I needed to do. At the similar time, I didn’t wish to step on anybody’s toes throughout my first few weeks earlier than I understood the firm tradition and working system.

It was like driving a automobile with each pedals pushed to the flooring at the similar time.

So I searched Google for concepts. I figured somebody smarter than me should have considered this earlier than. I hoped to seek out a framework, plan, roadmap, or doc I might apply at new my gig, however I didn’t discover a lot.

After chatting with my skilled coach, I purchased the guide The First 90 Days, which is an unimaginable learn, and used it to create an onboarding plan particularly for my scenario.

The plan helped me dive proper into my new function. Since then, I’ve shared it with different development leaders, who’ve tailored it to their conditions, and been profitable as properly.

The framework was designed particularly for development people (Heads of Growth, Growth Entrepreneurs, and Growth Product Managers) working at quick paced startups and early stage corporations however the rules and priorities will apply to bigger organizations as properly.

So fairly than showing-up and figuring it out as you go, are available with a plan already in place so you can ship worth from day one.

The primary ninety days are essential in your inside model

Regardless of how profitable you’ve been in the previous or how a lot expertise you have — the first ninety days are essential for anybody switching jobs. That is very true in a development function at a startup or early-stage firm.

As the first development rent, your organization is hiring you as the professional. The scope and duties for the function normally isn’t properly outlined. Your job is to show them what must be carried out and the right way to do it.

The chance to personal the strategic path and have a big impression is thrilling. Nonetheless, with out a plan, and different “development individuals” to bounce concepts off, the lack of readability might be intimidating and result in imposter syndrome.

There’s a lot to do throughout these first 90 days. You’ve acquired to:

  • Find out about the enterprise.
  • Set up relationships together with your supervisor and colleagues.
  • Educate everybody about development and your course of.
  • Find out how work will get carried out at this new firm.
  • Work out what assets can be found.
  • Arrange a reporting infrastructure.
  • Begin figuring out alternatives.
  • Start working.
  • Show that you know what you’re doing.
  • Impress your new crew.
  • Not step on anybody’s toes.

Overwhelming, proper?

Most individuals present up for his or her first day with out a plan

Earlier in your profession, it’s completely acceptable to point out up and comply with the onboarding plan your new supervisor put collectively for you.

However you’ve been hired in to a management function at a startup. At this degree, you’re the professional and you’re in cost of how you spend your time. Don’t waste it.

You possibly can wait till you begin, get the lay of the land, and determine it out as you go. Perhaps your new firm can have a normal onboarding plan you can comply with.

Or, you can spend a week earlier than you begin, get your shit collectively, and show-up on day 1 with a detailed 90 day plan that’s particularly in your function, and designed to assist you ramp-up shortly.

Your new supervisor and management crew will likely be extra impressed by the latter.

Coming in with a plan permits you to construct momentum shortly whereas you manage-up and construct belief, which is extremely necessary for each place, and particularly so in a cross-functional management function.

However most individuals don’t; they determine it out as they go. They spend the first few days feeling misplaced, poking round new instruments, and attempting to look busy.

This plan was created by occupied with the high-level priorities for a development chief beginning a new function at a startup and consists of key initiatives together with a free roadmap.

That is meant be used as a place to begin, not a end line. So be happy to download a copy and adapt to your scenario.

One ultimate be aware: it’s purposely extra detailed and prescriptive throughout the first thirty days and turns into much less particular over time, as you’ll naturally begin to revise and customise based mostly on what you be taught.

Your first thirty days are the place you can acquire unimaginable leverage.

No person expects you to ship many tasks or experiments throughout your first few weeks. Most individuals waste it searching Twitter or LinkedIn in between conferences.

But when you leverage your time and a focus properly, you can acquire a tidal wave of info that may permit you to be efficient down the street.

Listed below are the prime priorities throughout the first thirty days:

Precedence 1: Centered studying

It’s best to get extraordinarily detailed about what info you have to be taught now to be efficient instantly, and which may wait till later.

Each enterprise can have its personal nuances, the record of areas to focus under must be directionally correct.

Fundamentals of the enterprise and the way they affect development

The extra you learn about the enterprise, the more practical you’ll be in buying, activating, and retaining prospects down the street. Each enterprise has particulars that take time to know. The earlier you begin studying about them the higher. This may assist you to start any fast wins you establish, constructing belief together with your friends, and assist you recover from any imposter syndrome.

Basic issues you’ll wish to study the enterprise:

  • Firm imaginative and prescient, technique, and alternatives
  • Aggressive panorama
  • Goal buyer information: personas, jobs to be carried out, verticals, what do they love most about the product, what do they want it might do?
  • Deep dive into present go-to-market technique
  • Conversion obstacles: why do they purchase, what stops them from shopping for, and why do they churn?
  • Product overview: core worth prop, important issues it solves, main options, and limitations
  • Product onboarding: what’s the first person expertise like? Do new customers get caught, if that’s the case the place? What does success appear like? Is there a clear definition about what an activated account seems to be like?
  • Business particular info if you’re coming into a new area
  • Buyer finest practices

The best way to study the enterprise:

  • Your employer seemingly has some new rent onboarding conferences already scheduled with you. In the event that they don’t, begin placing time on their calendar to go over the info above. In the event that they do, leverage that point to ask actually particular questions to realize context on the concepts above. You would possibly really feel overwhelmed by the quantity of studying throughout these conferences. Take notes.
  • Analysis trade finest practices throughout your downtime.
  • Use the product as a lot as doable. Undergo the onboarding movement a number of occasions. Is it clear what you ought to do subsequent?
  • In the event that they don’t learn about the conversions obstacles — get a survey reside on the web site or in-product asking customers what’s stopping them from taking the subsequent step in the course of.
  • Make the most of surveys to realize buyer insights in the event that they don’t have current buyer analysis.

Firm working system

You don’t wish to step on any toes your first few weeks. After you orient your self to the enterprise, you wish to perceive how the work will get carried out at the moment.

You’re being hired to hired to implement your personal programs of executing cross-functionally. However in the brief time period, it will assist you make progress as you establish quick-win tasks by sliding seamlessly into their present methods of working.

Particular issues to study the present working system:

  • Related advertising or product dash cycle information
  • Key conferences and typical stakeholder involvement
  • Present undertaking administration instruments & how they’re used
  • Communication and documentation norms
  • Present advertising and product tech stack & the way it’s getting used right this moment

The best way to study the working system:

  • Leverage any relevant onboarding conferences.
  • Observe up with key stakeholders relying what’s, or isn’t, isn’t lined.
  • Speak to your new teammates to know the working system norms and nuances (extra on that under).

Present funnel & conversion charges

In my expertise, that is sometimes lined throughout the interview course of. So I received’t go into nice depth right here. However as a development chief, you have to turn into an professional in how the firm works and perceive the important development levers at every stage of the buyer journey. That features figuring out the uncooked numbers and conversion metrics for every stage of the buyer journey, by coronary heart.

You don’t have to have them memorized on day one. However the sooner you start to know how the enterprise is performing, the more practical you might be at prioritizing your time and a focus.

The best way to turn into an professional in the funnel:

  • The one highest leverage factor to do right here is to create a development mannequin, which tracks the main levers that impression development charge (whole guests, new installs, activated accounts, new purchases, upgrades, downgrades, and so forth.) together with their conversion charges. The method of creating the mannequin will assist establish gaps of their present information (and certain tech stack). Then use it to establish areas the place you could wish to focus your time and a focus as you stand up to hurry.
  • Achieve entry to any pre-existing dashboards if relevant.

Precedence 2: Construct connections with new teammates

Connections are the spine of any crew, and particularly a cross-functional crew. Creating a robust basis of belief and understanding can pay dividends down the street.

Construct that belief proper off the bat. Don’t waste their time by asking them to espresso with out having a plan. Method this strategically. Don’t simply wing it.

Use this time to align on how development matches into the group, share your course of, and solicit concepts to start constructing your backlog.

Right here’s who to fulfill with:

  • If it’s a small startup, plan to fulfill with everybody over the first few weeks.
  • If the firm is simply too massive to fulfill everybody, prioritize your key stakeholders and crew members you’ll be working carefully with. Then slowly develop out.

Then, arrange 30 minute casual “espresso” conferences. This may be carried out in individual or just about. However ideally not in a convention room to maintain the power gentle.

  • Prioritize studying about your colleagues as individuals first: who they’re, what their life is like outdoors of work, household, and so forth.
  • Then steadily, be taught extra about their function at the firm, and the way you’ll be collaborating collectively.
  • Ask about their working types: what choices they prefer to be consulted on, how they like to speak, and so forth.
  • See in the event that they perceive how your function matches with the current crew. In the event that they don’t, that is a nice alternative to align early!
  • Get concepts in your development roadmap by asking what tasks and alternatives they assume you ought to give attention to. Don’t decide to executing something on the spot.

A couple of nice inquiries to ask to assist with alignment:

  • Have you ever labored with a development individual earlier than?
  • What questions do you have about my function?
  • What are some of the greatest development tasks or alternatives you see?
  • What landmines ought to I keep away from throughout my first few months?

Precedence 3: Align in your function & duties

Growth roles are usually undefined. Your job is to first create your personal objectives, milestones, and roadmaps. Then, talk them to inside stakeholders for alignment. And at last, begin executing after you have gained consensus.

Failure can come from misaligned expectations. So clarifying and verifying your key roles and duties is a essential step throughout your first thirty days.

Don’t assume everyone seems to be on the similar web page. Be proactive.

The best way to align:

  • Present them your 30–60–90 day plan and ask for suggestions.
  • Focus on the imaginative and prescient for the function together with your supervisor & different key stakeholders.
  • Set qualitative milestones in your first few weeks & months.

Precedence 4: Get some early wins

This one is a bit extra easy. However you wish to begin constructing momentum and get some wins on the board as early as doable.

The place to start out:

  • Based mostly in your learnings from constructing the development mannequin and the alternatives your new colleagues shared throughout your “espresso convos,” you can begin creating a backlog of quick-win tasks.
  • Search for tasks that may present a right away impression to the enterprise you can execute with the assets you have throughout this time.
  • Many quick-wins come from eradicating friction. Search for key areas of the customer-journey the place customers appear to get caught. These might be superior sources of friction that may be shortly eliminated to extend conversion charges.
  • Help in something pressing that would use your assist and area experience.

Days thirty to sixty are the place you can start to construct belief by making certain everybody at the group understands what you’ll be targeted on, and why.

Your objective is to develop a plan with particular objectives and outcomes to extend development. Then start to establish and purchase the instruments, assets, and programs to execute that plan in your new firm.

Right here’s the right way to make it occur.

Precedence 1: Create a Growth Manifesto

A development manifesto is a actual doc you ought to create with the objective of organizing your ideas and sharing with others in the group for alignment.

Right here’s what to incorporate in the first model:

  • The mission, imaginative and prescient, strategic path for development in your group
  • Key working rules. I sometimes embody issues like “targeted on studying & enabling different areas of the org,” “placing person’s opinions over our personal,” “bias for easy options that scale,” and so forth.
  • A 3 month roadmap the place you’ve outlined particular development objectives and key milestones that align with firm targets
  • Hypotheses on longer-term development packages that you’ll examine after you spend extra time in the group

Plan to iterate on this doc. The objective isn’t to be good. It’s to share what you’ll be targeted on, why you’re targeted on it, and the way you count on to do work.

Creating a development manifesto permits you get to early enter from stakeholders if you’re lacking something and provides you a lot of time to redirect your power if you’re headed in the incorrect path.

It’s additionally excellent place to refer future new hires to share what development is.

Whereas you must be excited to create this doc for all of the causes listed above. In my expertise, you don’t make one thing like this, somebody will finally ask you for this info anyway. So you would possibly as properly take the initiative and share it proactively together with your new crew.

Precedence 2: Prepping the development working system

After getting alignment above you’ll know what to give attention to and believe it’s aligned with the imaginative and prescient the firm had in your function.

Now, it’s time to evaluate and purchase what you’ll must be profitable, together with:

  • Cross-functional assist from different departments (sometimes design & devs)
  • Instruments: for reporting, a/b testing, or different development packages
  • Funds to accumulate any of the above
  • Extra buyer insights to assist you establish issues and alternatives

Working in development, your colleagues are going to ship you a lot of concepts. Some will likely be nice concepts. Many will likely be distractions.

Begin growing a prolonged “backlog” of non-essential tasks that you can re-evaluate each few months.

Precedence 3: Begin delivery

Purchase the mandatory assets above and start executing in your roadmap!

Sixty days at a startup is a very long time. This half of the plan is deliberately much less outlined.

Your objective is to realize momentum, begin forming opinions based mostly on what’s working (and what’s not), and iterate in your plan as you acquire extra confidence.

Your important priorities ought to embody:

Precedence 1: Proceed executing your development roadmap

It is going to take a few months earlier than you get into a good rhythm of the right way to function at your new firm. Use this time to get higher at executing and studying about the potential impression you could make.

Precedence 2: Replace strategic imaginative and prescient based mostly on learnings

The objective of the first model of your technique and roadmap is to take your finest guess about the place to focus your time and power. It’s okay to be incorrect. Simply revise your roadmap and refocus.

Precedence 3: Refine development mannequin & funnel dashboards

As you make progress in your roadmap, you’ll seemingly establish further insights that may assist you.

Don’t wait in your first week to start the onboarding course of. Begin planning your objectives priorities upfront so you can start your new journey with a full head of steam.

Use this plan to your benefit. It’ll assist you be more practical, sooner.

Whereas it’s not totally exhaustive, it ought to give you a good shot to achieve success in your first few months.

You may also download a PDF version of this plan. Be happy to customise, edit, and reserve it for later.


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