Growth isn’t about doing everything, it’s about doing the right things. That’s the topic of this week’s Growth Snack: The Breakout Growth Podcast Short. This concept came into sharp focus for Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr when they spoke with Charlie Cole, the CEO who has led the turnaround of FTD Flowers (full episode next week).
A standout learning from the discussion with Charlie Cole is that startups and turnarounds often make the same crucial mistake: they try to do everything all at once.
So where should you point your relentless focus? And what is the order of operations that prevents you from simply throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks? In this episode, we look to answer these questions as we dive into the importance of getting the right people to the right experiences with qualitative and quantitative learnings, and more.
So jump in, and in less than 10 minutes you will have food for thought as you work to achieve breakout growth success in your business.
* Even the best leaders will try to do too much all at once (00:45)
* The order of operations matters; slow down and focus (01:15)
* Don’t let the pressure to hit numbers force poor execution (02:00)
* Growth isn’t just about channels, focus on core customer challenges (03:13)
* Get the right customers to the right experiences (03:45)
Sean Ellis 00:00:00 All right. If you were leading growth, building a startup or looking toladder up your skills, then you are probably really busy. So every other week, tune into growth snack, the breakout growth podcast, short where Ethan Gar and I share one key growth learning to help you on your journey to breakout growth, success. It’s food for thought for anyone hungry for growth.
Ethan Garr 00:00:19 All right, Sean. So next week we have an awesome episode teed up for our audience. We are gonna be speaking with Charlie Cole. He is the turnaround CEO who led FTD flowers, um, since 2019, since 2020, um, following their bankruptcy, it’s gonna be an awesome episode for our listeners, but one thing stood out for both of us. So why don’t you tell us, tell our listeners what you and I have been so excited to tell them about why it’s so important.
Sean Ellis 00:00:43 Yeah, absolutely mouthful there. So yeah, , we are, uh, one of the things that really stood out to us is, is something we see in startups all the time. And so for a turnaround situation, it was interesting to see it as well. Yeah. And it’s that even the best leaders will try to do too much at once. So it’s, it’s important to remember that growth does not depend on getting absolutely everything. Right. It depends on getting the right things. Right. And that requires just ruthless prioritization of where you focus your energy and your time.
Ethan Garr 00:01:16 Yeah. I mean, as spoiler alert, you are probably gonna mess up a lot of things in growth. I mean, it’s just part, part of the game. So what it comes down to is really kind of getting your order of operations, right? And Charlie really talks about this a lot, but you know, it starts with, you know, step by step. You have to understand your customer journey. You have to ensure that everything is instrumented properly. Find the highest leverage opportunities, focus and so on and so forth. And if you don’t do those things in the proper order, and if you don’t slow down and really focus on what matters, you’re probably gonna run into all sorts of trouble and it’s gonna be almost impossible to grow. So why do you think it is that? I mean, we’ve seen it so much. Why do you think it is that so many companies try to do too much all at once and fail?
Sean Ellis 00:01:57 You know, I, I think it starts with just, just pressure to hit numbers. Mm-hmm and, uh, and that comes from the very top. So even beyond the CEO, a lot of times it may be, it may be that when the CEO was, uh, raising that first round of capital or the most recent round of capital that they over promised, and now, now they have to hit those numbers that they promised, or it might have been that investors said we’ll invest, but you need to commit to hitting X. And as soon as you have these big aggressive numbers, then those numbers start to guide all of the executions. So you start trying to do everything possible to hit those numbers. And the first thing we think about is, oh, it’s, it’s, it’s gonna be based on the channels that, that are gonna work for us.
Sean Ellis 00:02:43 So we need to do a little of this and a little of that. And, and, and you start thinking about all the different ways you can acquire those customers. But the, the truth is that you really only need one channel that can scale to, to be successful. So it’s not necessarily about trying every possible channel, but it’s that search for at least one channel that’s gonna scale. And then sometimes channels are not even where the problem is. Mm-hmm, maybe you’re having a hard time finding that channel, that scales for some other reason, maybe your conversion is bad or your retention or your unable to monetize.
Ethan Garr 00:03:19 Yeah. I mean, if you’re trying to dive bomb into all of these things all the time, it’s really impossible to put enough focus into any of them to kind of know what’s gonna, what really is the problem what’s going to work. You really have to take your time and figure those things out. So how do you, you know, how do you figure out what matters? Like what’s in your experience? Where do you think like that starts?
Sean Ellis 00:03:40 Yeah, I think in a, in a startup in particular, you know, first, first area you wanna look at is retention. And, and we, we talk about this a lot. We’ve, we’ve had a lot of growth snacks where we talk about product market fit and it’s, it’s because it’s a super important concept. And so retention is often an indicator of product market fit. So essentially meaning that someone tries your product, they like it enough that they keep using it over time. And, and if they do that, then, then everything in the business tends to work well. But if you have bad retention, there could be a number of factors that, that lead to that bad retention. It might be, it might be that, that the product is actually really bad. It might be that the, the product’s good, but you’re onboarding into the product is bad. Getting people to use the product the right way is, is where the challenge is. Um, so there’s a, a, a ton of different things that may be causing that retention issue. But the, the biggest thing you wanna figure out is how do I get the right people to experience, to experience my product in the right way.
Ethan Garr 00:04:49 Yeah. And I think figuring out that, that, that journey from right people to right experience is often comp complicated by the fact that people don’t look at it both quantitatively and qualitatively. I mean, especially in a startup where we’re focused on data and instrumentation, it can be really easy, especially, you know, I see it with apps a lot where you have, you know, a funnel, you look at the funnel and there’s some drop off. And like, for example, you’re asking for, uh, permission, like contact, access, address, book, access, people get there, and you see that there’s this big fall off there. So you say, oh, we’ll just move that. We’ll put it after the pay wall or something, and that’ll solve our problem, but you’re just really kicking the problem down the, down the road. Um, you haven’t really thought about what is happening in the customer’s mind to make them feel that way. So if you’re not looking, you know, talking to your customers and analyzing it qualitatively as well, probably gonna miss important things like that. So I think there really is this balance between figuring out the right experience and, you know, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Sean Ellis 00:05:46 Yep. And, and getting that right, figuring out these things, uh, is something that, that probably starts with leadership. So it starts with, with that CEO of being able to being able to shine the spotlight on what matters in the business. But I think it goes even beyond that, to where if you can get everyone across the team on the same page about what matters, and these are the things that we’re gonna need to figure out in order for this business to be successful. And this is the order in which we need to figure these things out. You’re gonna be much more likely to be able to, to, to solve the really hard, hard problems in the business to, to be able to unlock growth. And so, um, it’s yeah, the, the last thing you wanna do when you’ve got a million things on your plate is to take a step back and, and look at the big picture of the business, but that’s generally what you need to do. And you need to have that shared context that shared understanding and then, and then concentrate team resources around those couple of things. Those, those, that one, two, maybe three things that, that really matter in order to put the business on a track to where it can ultimately be successful.
Ethan Garr 00:06:58 Yeah. I think when in doubt do less to do more, I think that’s a, a really good just way to approach this. So this is great stuff, but, uh, we’re running outta time. So I think, uh, we should, uh, call it, call it there. Thanks everyone for tuning into this week’s growth snack. Like we said, next week, we’ll have a full episode with Charlie Cole, the FTD, uh, turnaround CEO. It’s gonna be great. I think everyone’s gonna really enjoy it. So if you’re hungry for growth, keep tuning in.