Growth is slow, before it is fast

Systems that drive compounding growth on autopilot need to be optimised and fine-tuned before they become powerful. Remember when there were 100 cases of a new virus in Wuhan? All compound growth feels slow, before it is fast.


  • Growth marketing is fundamentally about unlocking mechanisms of compounding growth for your product. The very nature of compounding growth (as compared to linear growth), is that it starts slowly and looks unimpressive at first.
  • On top of this, it can take time to fine-tune a system enough to actually get to meaningful results. You often need to have all the pieces in place, for the machine to really start to work. Until that last piece clicks into place, you’ll often see very little growth at all. But that is, unfortunately, the way the process often works.
  • As a growth marketer, we need to be able to shift between two different mindsets, which we call the bulldog and the nerd mindset. The bulldog is all about the hustle, and the grind and grit and perseverance to score direct wins. The nerd is about building the systems to drive fundamental growth. You need the bulldog mindset to get things going, and the nerd mindset to reach true scale.
  • In order to test and optimise, you’ll need data. In order to get data on things, you’ll need to have at least a trickle of acquisition flowing through your business. While unlocking a powerful sales funnel is often the crux of unlocking initial growth, you need to set up some sort of baseline acquisition strategy to drive enough traffic that you can optimise landing pages, lead captures, nurturing strategy and onboarding.
  • In all growth efforts, be sure you differentiate between the efforts that drive short-term momentum (like PR & publicity, a launch, and any short-term hacks), versus the strategies that support your long-term growth. Much like most rockets have multiple stages to get into orbit, you might require short-term tactics and hustle to unlock the altitude where scalable channels (like product-driven growth mechanics) can kick in.

In Practice

Even a simple business like Double suffers from these challenges. When we started out in building a growth agency, we had little experience, no portfolio, no team, no brand name recognition, no basis to charge premium prices, no content to nurture leads, not much in terms of network. Unless you can leverage some of those assets from a previous venture, growth will be slow at first.

But even a simple marketing agency has many self-reinforcing elements. Many things get better as you scale up, even if it’s slow at first. Your portfolio can only get stronger, your experience can only get stronger. Your brand can virtually only get stronger, and so for your ability to charge higher hourly rates. You build trust, rapport and relationships. And all these things somewhat feed into powering the other things. Higher prices allow you more acquisition opportunities. Larger clients increase the appeal of your portfolio… which allows you to charge more, and gains you experience in more complex cases. Moral of the story here: accept (but don’t settle on) the fact that growth will be slow before it is fast. Get started, and start building momentum.

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