What is Growth? (And What Does a 'Growth Specialist' Do?)

I wrote last week about my new job.

I’m now ‘Growth Specialist’ at Unito. When I tell people I work in growth, the next question is “what does that mean?”

This post will give a brief overview of what I do and how I think about growth.

Growth, in short, is exactly what it sounds like - it’s my job to identify and exploit growth opportunities for the company.

That still doesn’t give insight on what I do day-to-day. To some extent, everyone at a startup should be thinking about growth.

Intercom’s definition of a growth team is “a software team solving a company’s business problems.” That’s not far off.

The Growth Process

Identifying and exploiting growth opportunities typically involves a cycle of the following steps:

  1. Examining the customer lifecycle for gaps or deficiencies (aka potential improvements),

  2. Coming up with hypotheses for improvements, and then ranking them,

  3. Designing and executing experiments to test these hypotheses, and

  4. Implementing successful changes permanently.

  5. Finally, repeat this process (forever).

When I’m asked how an engineering or science background helps in business, this is one of the best examples. Growing a company involves iterative, controlled processes, executed over and over for a long period of time. Engineering and science are great preparation for this kind of thinking.

Andrew Chen’s definition of growth is “the scientific method applied to KPIs” (KPIs = key performance indicators; these are numbers that show company progress).

Essentially, I’m responsible for this process. 

Product, marketing, sales, and other teams will experiment on their own, within the part of the customer lifecycle they deal with.

My job is to maintain an overview of all the experiments going on, ensure they’re conducted properly, and then make sure what’s learned doesn’t get lost. I’m also looking to design and drive experiments on my own.

Repeat Forever

Once a particular experiment is finished, the next one should already be ready to go.

This process is never done; it’s meant to be a continuous loop.

My job as Growth Specialist is to make sure we continue improving in all areas of the customer lifecycle, and we document what we learn.

We’re searching for both large impact experiments and small, incremental improvements over time.

Ultimately, we’re looking to grow the business.