Barron Caster

@barroncaster

5 Key Questions Before Starting a Growth Team

Set the foundation for a successful Growth Team!

Don’t start a Growth Team, yet.

As a Growth practitioner, I’ve been asked great questions about my experience building and running a successful Growth Team:

  1. Is the time to start really right now?
  2. What resources do I need to be successful?
  3. How do you identify the biggest opportunities?
  4. Who do I want on my team?
  5. How do I get more resources?

My goal is to to answer these questions and elaborate on the human-side of building a growth team through learned experience and hard data. But first, some quick facts:

Rev Growth Team 2 years ago: 0 members

Rev Growth Team Today: 3 Product Managers, 8 Engineers, 2 Designers
Customers Acquired by Growth Team: 150,000+
Rev Business Lines: 5
Rev NPS: 75+

1. Pre-Liftoff

Is the time to start really right now?

You have petitioned to start a Growth Team or your company wants to make growth a priority. First, you need to understand the answer to ‘why now?’ Generally, your company has found indications of Product-Market Fit and wants to throw gas on the fire to grow faster. If this is not the case, then work on the core product.

Get buy-in at every level, executives to individual team members.

You will need dedicated resources to be successful. Growth teams that share resources with other teams need to petition every time they want to make a change. They regularly find the organization making the trade-off between “improving core product” and “growing the existing product.” This is not a healthy conversation to have constantly, so try and carve out a dedicated team.

For example, I used simple projections to show how A/B testing would more than pay for itself in terms of headcount by studying our current flow, creating a quantitative model, and sharing realistic projections. This model demonstrated to executives why the team needed more resources and motivated team members around a common goal.

2. Kicking off

How do you identify the biggest opportunities?

Work on the right problems. My team and I have been guilty of working on projects that seemed important at the time, but inevitably did not move the bottom line. There are a few ways to avoid this:

  1. Work on metrics that matter — do not start working on changes until you have identified the area of the business that will benefit the most from growth work and you have prioritized changes.If you skip this step, you will likely waste company resources. I started the Growth team a month before any engineers or designers joined. Once they joined, I knew exactly what we should be doing and we were off to the races.
  2. Low-effort, high-impact wins — when starting on a new project, you will find things that are currently ‘broken’ and no one has fixed because it has not fit into the organization’s past goals. Prioritize these for fast results.
  3. Context is king — each business is unique, so you cannot trust that ‘growth-hacks’ that worked for others will work for you.

Note: you will never go wrong by working on efforts that increase revenue, the trick is figuring out which are the right ones to work on.

3. Team Structure

What resources do I need to be successful?

Rev’s growth teams looks like all product teams at Rev with a business person (PM), engineers, and a designer:

Growth PM (1)—manages the growth process, removes bottlenecks, and shares results

Growth Engineers (2–4)— implement all product changes and improve the underlying tech

Designer (1)— spins up fast, iterative designs that focus on UX

We started off with 1 PM, 1 Engineer, and a contract designer to tackle the low-hanging fruit and prove ourselves before building up the team. Each company has their own flavor of team structure and required roles, including data analysts, marketers, and qualitative researchers. At Rev, those jobs fall on the PM.

4. Team DNA

Who do I want on my team?

Certain qualities have worked resoundingly well for the Growth team’s product managers:

  1. Growth-mindset — you want to learn quickly and improve
  2. Impact-focused — your primary motivation is seeing your work reflected in the numbers
  3. Competitive — you want to win and you want to see results fast
  4. Scrappy — you do whatever it takes
  5. Humble — you don’t need to have the best ideas, just ensure the right things get worked on

Engineering is a different beast. Engineers can be driven by technical prowess more than results. At first, find engineers who share similar qualities to your PMs. To accommodate longer-term, try to balance quick wins (which are a majority of Growth work) with larger initiatives.

Engineers want to bolster their skills by working on meatier challenges. Don’t deprive them of this, but be sure that the projects will be high-impact for your metrics.

Your objective is to get results, but you need a happy, high-functioning team to get there.

5. Getting More Resources

How do I get more resources?

Ideally, all the growth work will be low-effort and high-impact. After you pick off this low-hanging fruit, you will need more resources to complete bigger projects.

Always keep a running list of these high-impact growth projects and the value they bring to your organization.

Quantify and share the impact of your team.

The best way to get resources in any organization is by being public about your work and the results you’re achieving. Share results early and often. There are other benefits to being open about team progress:

  1. Ensure you are working on impactful projects
  2. Get the team excited about your work
  3. Encourage peers to give feedback

Include as much context as possible without overwhelming, and know that the process is equally important as the results.

Growth teams have the benefit of tying results directly back to revenue. It is very easy to understand the trade-offs — give X resources to get Y revenue results.

Your Growth Team

With clear answers to these questions, you are ready to start a high-powered Growth Team.

If you have questions or want to talk about Growth, please reach out: Barron.Caster@gmail.com or LinkedIn.

Related reading: The 3x Conversion Playbook and Growth Tools 101.

Special thanks to Lana Caster for custom graphics

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