Growth Hacking vs Growth Mindset

Before you stop reading this text, let me give you some perspective on this title. Growth hacking is a precious process that helps online startups scale a kickass product from scratch to billions in revenue and users. Or, at least that is what it oh-so-elusively seems so to the satisfaction-hungry customers who don’t get to have a peek at the backend. But, if you ask your team of mobile developers about growth, their story will sound more like finding the best anti-dusting agent and using it to produce a perfectly clean and polished house with the least number of moves as possible, than like having a magic wand solution to hit the top of Google Play store.

Get Down to the Growth Mindset

Growth hacking works along driven, measurable, testable and scalable products. But, if you are in the midst of an online startup, you already know that. Your developers know it, your marketers know it and even your dog knows it, if you don’t have the time to take it for a walk around the block.

The questions you most likely struggle with are:

  • How do I bring everything to the table to work perfectly like a chamber orchestra?
  • How do I help my startup team grow in the face of failure?
  • How do I do more with less?
  • How do I know when to launch my product?Is this the right product for this moment? Is this the right moment for this product?

You may still have these questions about your startup growth on your mind even if you have put all metrics, statistics and data analytics in place. After all, you work in apps development and got immediate access to the glitzy world of perfect new products before everyone else   Wait, what? Haven’t you scaled processes yet?



growth hacking



Then, work on your growth mindset as you set the processes with these 3 places-to-be for online startups:

Place-to-be #1


growth mindset


Find your place in the huge online startup community by joining GrowthHackers. The place is an academy for app developers. Create an account, start asking and answering questions, join a discussion, connect and share an idea. The place is literally the startup green market. Did I mention that it was founded by Sean Ellis? He helped Dropbox skyrocket to its current size by creating a data-driven strategy asking the customers to develop what they need. He just let the customers grew the product and complete half of the job for him!   

Place-to-be #2



To get to the basics, the advanced lessons and the tested and tired approaches of growth metrics, follow Kissmetrics. Neil Patel is both a marketer and a growth hacker. Leave out the popular debate that the two just don’t go together. It’s a matter of perspective. Make the best of the old and the new. Kissmetrics sets industry standards. For a squeeze of his most precious growth hacking tips for online startups, watch him talk. He is as inspiring as he is informative, and well-worth of 45 minutes of your time.

Place-to-be #3

For knowledge and wisdom for product-market fit, getting to your target audience by thinking about people who won’t use your product, and mixing the right testing tools with the right people at the right time, see what’s Adam Nash up to. He is always up to something good. He gets the job done and leaves the company better than it used to be. Do LinkedIn, eBay and Apple ring a bell? Well, he is now helping Wealthfront provide expensive financial advice for cheap money. Doesn’t make sense, right? Only if you think in simple numbers and do not get to your growth mindset. Who would you trust more – someone who takes a big pile of money to make another big one or someone who knows how to do the same with a small amount of money?


Retain the Growth Mindset

So let me correct the title hook –  You don’t need only growth hacking. Now, that seems more viable, doesn’t it?

You need a growth mindset. It is the mindset that comes before, during and after growth hacking. The growth mindset is Carol Dweck’s baby. She is a Stanford Ph.D. Are you impressed yet? Carol Dweck managed to amp up an underachieving class of students who couldn’t hold a pencil straight to the top 95 percentile in the state of New York within a time of months. How did she do it? She noticed a difference in the mindset of children who got better against failure and the mindset of children who struggled with failure. A growth against a fixed mindset. The growth mindset revolves around the belief that skills are built by learning and developing. Skills are not talents. If you’ve got talent, that’s great. Many online startups don’t even stand a chance without talent. Your talent is great, but you need to put up the work from a new perspective.

The growth mindset is very similar to the process of software development. Each failure is a chance for improvement. Just this simple switch in the traditional belief about failure as an obstacle helps you grow your startup in new ways.  

How do you develop a mobile app?

Try. Test. Fail. Think. Repeat. Succeed. You use the growth mindset.

If you aren’t already using psychology tips in mobile app development, the time to do it is now. There is the book. It is worth wasting a few vacation afternoons on it. I get you. With all that growth-hacking analytics you need to complete, you don’t have the time to read a full book. That’s fine. Then watch Trevor Ragan’s 8-minute presentation to get the key points of the growth mindset process and spare the rest of your holiday time on sipping cocktails. Keep it handy as a focused reminder of the differences between the fixed and the growth mindset.

Do you know what is the key difference?

Fixed mindset: I’m not there and never will be

Growth mindset: I’m not there. Yet.

Does it work for team magic?

You bet it does.    

Boost Your Team’s Growth Mindset

Praise more wisely.

Praise effort and process instead of talent.

Praise discipline.

We never knew it took Michael Jordan many months of getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning to commit to a three-hour basketball practice before school. He did this to discipline himself. Do you know who helped him unfix his fixed mindset? His mom. When he got rejected by the school basketball team, she took the chance to help him stop fretting and get back into the game. And, boy, did he get into the game!


Hire the Right People

Don’t let the label ‘growth mindset’ bamboozle you. Mindset only sounds cognitive. Yes, it is true that it works on a belief principle. But, belief is strongly based on emotions. So, hiring the right people for your online startup is not only about qualifications. The right person must be interested. Interest is the emotional glue that holds everything in place. The motivation to keep going will keep up the things in order when you endlessly test, try and repeat. The team with a growth mindset will keep up the startup going when it hits some hard places. It worked for us to house one of the most diverse and innovative teams of startup app developers in New York.


Don’t Grow Too Quickly

We all know about Instagram’s insane success. Was it really all down to growth hacking? Yes, if that includes ‘growing mindfully’. Wait, what is that? Was Instagram not growth-hacked?

Considering the growth in monetary worth, yes.

But considering the work behind the scenes, the growth hacking involved a lot of careful experimentation, plenty of networking and choosing the right team with caution.

Having a dynamic co-working space helps a lot for connecting with the right people. A flexible startup ecosystem can help you scale down teams as the needs arise. Your clients don’t need to know all details that took you to develop a beautiful mobile app, but they for sure will appreciate your flexibility when they see what you made for them. In a dynamic place, you can bring people onboard by informal experimenting. This is one of the best ways to train your startup muscle. Difficult, only if you get back to the fixed mindset!


Become Agile

The growth mindset is a lot about agile development and agile marketing. It is about avoiding threats and locking down opportunities. If you know that agile methodologies don’t always work for you and prefer being plan-driven, consider scaling your approach to the situation. See how many people on your team thrive on chaos versus order.

When scaling the approach, get your hands down to Barry Boehm’s balancing act between agility and discipline. For the busiest among you (that includes both those who don’t have the time or the will for reading) the full book ‘Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed’ may be too much.

If you are the lazy reader, here is a shortcut to the core of the balanced mindset that brings growth and agile on the same table:

  • Agile is adaptive instead of predictive
  • Agile is happy customers before process specification
  • Coding is a craft, not an industry
  • Agile is people over processes


The growth mindset is the common denominator for agile development, agile marketing and growth hacking.

So, if your online startup has a cross-functional team of agile developers and a cross-functional team of agile marketers, your growth mindset might just start pumping up by thinking about bringing them together. Get used to slowing down the process when this happens. Not everyone will be used to working with the same pace. When you bring in people from legal to the team of startup app developers things will naturally slow down.

If you are wondering whether your cross-functional team is too big to growth-hack your online startup, just use Jeff Bezos’ two-pizza team rule: 8 to 12 people can be held clearly accountable to each other and fed by two pizzas.


Growth is Discipline in Action

You don’t need to call yourself a growth hacker to use the growth mindset. The word has become unpopular with app designers who know the painstakingly repetitive process of designing a product to its best final version. If you find that growth hacking is more of a marketing hype than a real essence, you probably prefer calling your growth-hacking expert a product manager. In that case, you may thrive more on building discipline than on building a media hype. Both can work, but discipline has a very long-term potential.

The growth mindset was primarily designed for school children. When it was so successful in building discipline with children, why wouldn’t it work perfectly well with adults?  And when George Lucas runs the school, why wouldn’t app developers become very probable clients.

What are the lessons from George Lucas’ Edutopia that will most likely be useful for your online startup team?

Ths Mindset Kit from Stanford University is a free course that can help your startup app developers work out new ways of assessment by using self and peer-feedback, modeling critique and testing the fixed mindset math culture. Edutopia has an overall amazing library on whiteboard explainer videos and reading you can browse through when you need to restart your growth mindset. Don’t let the level of presentation discourage you. Although the majority of the bits are aimekd at children, they will work great even for an agile team of grown-up entrepreneurs. Developing a new software product is very similar to children at play.

Try. Test. Fail. Think. Repeat. Succeed. This is what children do and how they learn. We often forget the growth mindset as we “grow up”. Working on it will remind you that your online startup can also learn and grow. So, when you decide on the right scope of the scaling or when your growth-hacking expert (aka product manager) gets to a halt, you can always go back to the drawing board and start afresh with a master reboot of your growth mindset.

Do not underestimate what a long marathon of growth-mindset videos supported by George Lucas can do for your online startup!