Picture of By Ward van Gasteren

By Ward van Gasteren

One of the first growth hackers in Europe, Author of 'Growing Happy Clients', and freelance Growth Consultant to companies like TikTok, Strategyzer, Pepsi, Cisco, Unilever and more.

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What is a Growth Hacking Mindset? (+ 5 tips to develop it)

What is Growth Hacking Mindset
Picture of By Ward van Gasteren

By Ward van Gasteren

Author of 'Growing Happy Clients' and freelance Growth Consultant to companies like TikTok, Pepsi, Unilever and more.

The Growth Hacker Mindset is one of the most important characteristics of a growth hacker, and is seen as the biggest difference between growth hackers and traditional marketers, but what is the meaning of ‘growth hacking mindset’?

The Growth Hacking Mindset is a certain way of looking at challenges and opportunities. For example, a person with a growth hacking mindset does not hold onto his own view of the world and knows that he does not know everything, so he has to learn and experiment.

In this blog, I’ll explain what the growth hacking mindset entails and how you can train this mindset with yourself and with your employees (including some examples).

What is a Growth Hacking Mindset?

A Growth Hacking Mindset is a way of working and dealing with problems related to business, where you look for alternative solutions, give priority to progression over perfection and use data and new techniques. The growth hacking mindset is a characteristic of growth hackers and growth marketers.

It is often difficult to explain the growth hacking mindset in one sentence, because it is a combination of different characteristics. Therefore, I will discuss the five characteristics of a growth hacking mindset one by one below.

Speed > Perfection

Speed ​​is more important than perfection. Nobody can say beforehand with certainty what will and will not have an impact on your growth. That is why we as growth hackers work with the growth hacking cycle to set up marketing experiments, such as A / B tests and MVPs from larger campaigns.

On average only 1 in 10 experiments is a huge success and, among senior growth hackers, that amounts to a maximum of 1 in 3 experiments. Conclusion: you will have more success if you set up more experiments and people with a growth hacking mindset understand that.

Jeff Bezos Quote If You double the number of experiments you do per year you're going to double your inventiveness. Growth mindset
Amazon has even mentioned a direct link between the number of experiments per month and its growth.

Since you want to set up and implement as much as possible, it is important that you don’t get carried away by perfectionism, but that you focus on ‘good’ instead of ‘perfect’.

For example, when we look at fast-growing start-ups / scale-ups, such as Amazon and Booking, who do not necessarily have beautiful websites, we see that they are known for their speed of work.

As an example: If you say that your design still has to score a 6/10 instead of at least an 8 or 9, you can move so much faster, because you don’t have to coordinate that many departments, since more people will be able to design things themselves.

Voordelen van Growth Hacking Mindset
If you lower your standard, you can make more speed. You can always perfect it later. (Screenshot of from one of my workshops)

The end result?

  • A) If it is not successful, you haven’t invested too much time and effort into it, so you’ve wasted fewer resources.     
  • B) If it is a success, then you already have success on a level 6 with minimal effort. Imagine how much you can achieve on a level 9, if you put the time and effort into it.     

By lowering your standard, you can do more work and thereby achieve more successes, and you can also make better use of your most important people and resources.

Be open to alternative problems

As mentioned, a growth hacking mindset revolves around having an open mind and that also applies here to finding your growth problems.

As a company, all kinds of problems can limit your growth (think for example of your product, your target audience, your internal priorities, etc.), but unfortunately, most companies never look beyond their marketing and point to attracting too few customers as their biggest problem.

However, it is a huge waste of your time and budget if you work on the wrong problems.

That’s why many growth hackers use the Pirate Funnel to first identify the real problem.

Pirate Funnel for Growth Hackers
Use the Pirate Funnel to find your real growth-problem.

In short, the Growth Hacking Mindset helps growth marketers to work as efficiently as possible and to tackle real problems immediately.

Be open to alternative solutions

At the same time, as a growth hacker, you must also be open to trying alternative solutions.

Usually, it is not the most used solution that will be the most effective.

Consider, for example, ‘banner blindness‘, where you see that the first advertisements ever used to be incredibly efficient with click-through percentages of no less than 78% (!), but nowadays you can be happy if you achieve a click-through percentage of 2% on Facebook ads.

This ability of humanity to adapt to current marketing-strategies, is the reason that you will have to use new techniques to attract customers. Among growth hackers, this phenomenon is also known as the “Law of the Shitty Clickthroughs“.

example banner-blindness research
Example of “banner blindness”: subjects during an eye-tracking test no longer even look at the advertisements.

Also, the ‘growth hacks’ that work for other startups, such as Uber, Airbnb and Spotify, will probably not work for your company. Not only because customers are used to it, but it probably won’t work for you either because every company has a different product for a different target group with a different budget and at a different time.

And that is why you always have to keep looking for your own ‘growth hack’ and come up with your own solutions.

Data-driven choices instead of gut feeling

20 years ago, marketing budgets were assigned to different channels by the marketing manager. He/she made that decision on how to divide the marketing budget based on feeling: Which newspapers do I read? Which TV programs do I think to connect well with my customers?

And nowadays I still see this regularly: some companies do not advertise on Facebook, for example (and have also never tried it), because their management does not believe in that medium.

Growth Hackers work differently: they work on the basis of figures and data because nowadays, you can calculate exactly which channel delivers the most customers for relatively the lowest costs.

Data-driven growth hacker mindset
Data is inevitable in the growth hacking process

In addition, people with a growth hacking mindset also use data to find the biggest growth restrictors in Google Analytics, they always measure the “One Metric That Matters” to see if the team is doing well and at the end of a new experiment they measure the results as go/no-go moment.

So ask yourself: Are you really working on the basis of data? Or are you secretly listening to your gut feeling most of the time?

High level of “Digital Intelligence”

Finally, Digital Intelligence is one of the most important features of good growth hackers and a growth hacking mindset.

Digital Intelligence is the ease with which you can adapt to the latest technological developments.

For example:

  • Can you quickly handle a new tool/software for your work?     
  • Aren’t you turning your hand to try out new techniques?     
  • Do you develop your skills via Google and YouTube?     

Online developments are going so fast nowadays and new tools are added to the internet every day. As a result, channels and tools are decaying faster and faster (see chart below) and today’s online marketer must, therefore, be able to move to stay relevant.

Decay of growth marketing channels
New channels are emerging faster and faster and faster. Can you move fast enough?

Make sure you don’t exclude yourself from such trends, because you have to move to stay relevant. We call this ‘Learnability’, one of the most important skills for a growth hacker.

In addition, I also want to reassure you that most tools and platforms are nowadays designed with the user in mind. That ensures that it is really not that hard to work with. the new tools. Give it a try! 😉

Why is a Growth Hacker Mindset so important?

A growth hacking mindset is important in two ways: both personally and professionally. I’ll explain:

From a personal point-of-view

See your mindset as the lens through which you see the world and deal with it:

  • How do you view challenges?
  • How do you tackle problems?
  • How do you come up with solutions?
  • How do you look at ‘the unknown’?

In this way, a growth hacking mindset is really a personal matter. Your mindset determines how you develop, how you deal with changes and how you feel. For that reason, it is extremely important for yourself. It has an impact on everything you do.

From a business point-of-view

But a growth hacker mindset is also extremely important from a business perspective.

I assume that you as a company have a unique concept. This means that you as a company will also constantly encounter new challenges.

For all these new obstacles and challenges you have to come up with solutions quickly. And if the first solution does not work, you will have to come up with new solutions.

And most solutions will again require other tools or skills that you or your employees must learn.

That is why a growth hacking mindset is so important:

  • because you need to have an open mind to challenges,     
  • which allows you to find solutions faster,
  • for which you need to learn new tools and skills faster,
  • which allows you to take steps faster as a company.     

Many growth hackers even describe growth hacking as a mindset and way of working, rather than a discipline.

And if you think about it, that’s right: two growth hackers can do completely different work with completely different tools, in different business models and different solutions, but always with the same goal: growth!

The creator of growth hacking, Sean Ellis, described a growth hacker as “A Growth Hacker is a person whose only focus is to grow.”

At the same time, you can also make yourself a lot more important to your employer if you are the one find a solution to any problem.

5 Tips to acquire a Growth Hacking Mindset

Tip 1 – Change your image of ‘success’

First, you’ll have to change your mindset to stop looking at success as being the best, but from now on you have to see success as always wanting to get better.

As a company, you can be at the top, but that does not guarantee that you will stay there; Blockbuster was always the best, but Netflix strived to keep getting better, while Blockbuster was not prepared to keep innovating.

Growth Hacking Mindset example - Netflix versus Blockbuster chart
Growth Hacking Mindset = Always strive become better

For you as a growth hacker, this means that you must continue to strive for growth because there is always room for improvement. A part of growth is failing and learning from it. So keep trying to learn from experiments that have not produced a major improvement: Why did our customers not respond the way I expected them to? Why did that ad have such a low CTR? How can I apply that knowledge to other channels and incorporate those insights into future experiments?

Tip 2 – Don’t be stopped by obstacles

As we discussed earlier, speed is the most important factor for your growth. So don’t be stopped by obstacles. Find help to learn how to get over an obstacle, for example by discussing it with others or googling it.

  • You don’t understand why your Facebook ad is not converting properly? Ask it on Quora or in a Facebook group.      
  • Don’t know how to adjust the header of your website? Look it up on Google or search on Youtube for a tutorial.      
  • Do you no longer have any inspiration for new acquisition channels? Send an email to a more experienced growth hacker.      

Most people shut down when they don’t know how to move forward. Force yourself to solve problems and overcome obstacles anyway. That will help you to develop your growth hacking mindset (and your growth hacking knowledge).

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.

If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

Jim Rohn

For me, it helps to choose one to three tasks a day and to ensure that I complete them one way or the other. It forces me to keep moving.

To achieve that goal every day, I often have to look for the right answer and that way I keep developing myself, but it also ensures that my own company and my clients’ companies always keep making progress.

Tip 3 – Stay curious

The third tip to develop your growth hacking mindset is that you have to learn something new every day.

This will help you to take a broad look at all possibilities in your project, ensures that you are better informed about the latest techniques and helps you to view a problem from multiple angles. The marketing world is developing so fast that new opportunities are popping up every day, but fortunately, there are also plenty of people who are willing to share their knowledge.

For example, sign up for some interesting newsletters for growth hackers.

Or read one or more blogs about growth hacking every day via Zest.is or GrowthHackers.com.

Tip 4 – Surround yourself with the right people

It will work wonders for your mindset, if everyone around you thinks the way you want to think. You will soon discover how infectious a growth hacker mindset is.

This means that you are looking for people around you who:

  • Thinking in solutions, instead of just criticizing     
  • Always keep learning, instead of people who only trust their outdated knowledge
  • Being open to alternative choices, instead of always choosing the easiest way         

I do not mean that you should only surround yourself with growth hackers, but that you should be critical about the people around you. Also in private spheres, the people around you have a big influence on how you think. So spend more time on people who have a growth mindset.

It can also help you to find a growth hacking mentor; an experienced growth hacker who likes to share his knowledge and answer your questions. Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author, once said: “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” So be aware of the five people you interact with the most.

Tip 5 – Challenge your own assumptions

Finally, every marketer will at some point lose their inventiveness for their field. You may recognize yourself in one of the following characteristics:

  • Your new ideas are no longer really innovative.      
  • You are often applying the same techniques.     
  • You feel that you are often the last person to discover a new technique.     

If you recognize these points, it is good if you challenge yourself more often. The problem is that you are stuck in your own assumptions. In order to innovate (and therefore be able to perform), you must be regularly challenged in your fixed assumptions.

How can you solve this? Either you continue to challenge yourself in all your fixed tactics and the tasks that you must do on a regular basis, or you start looking for a critical challenger who can point out your mistakes, who can ask you questions that you yourself have walked away from and who can challenge you to consider alternative techniques.

Many senior marketers experience this over time, because there are no other more experienced marketers in their surroundings to ask critical questions. For your own development and your growth hacking mindset, it might be wise to find a work environment where you are not the most experienced person anymore, or to look for an external sparring partner. For example, find yourself a mastermind group, a fellow marketer (where you can challenge each other) or a more experienced mentor.

If you can apply these five points above to your work and your daily life, then I am sure that you develop a Growth Hacking Mindset pretty quickly.

[Bonus] Tip 6 (for employers / managers) – Motivate employees to go

For the managers or employers who read this blog and want to help their employees to develop a growth hacking mindset, you should try the following:

The most important thing to inspire a growth hacking mindset is that you show your team the room they have to be in charge, to learn and be creative. You can do the following:

  • Give room to try out new tactics, tools or tasks.     
  • Stop telling them what to do; they should be self-reliant.
  • Schedule learning time in their planning so that they feel free to learn (and that knowledge may help your business).    
  • Establish learning objectives to motivate people to develop themselves.     

I used to work in education for a long time and there it is a well-known fact that you have to support students in a balance of guidance and freedom. You have to tell them what the end goal is and make sure they have the basic knowledge and resources to reach their goal, but how they get to that end goal must lie with them.


This is the end of the blog. If you have any questions about the growth hacking mindset, you can always contact me or ask your questions below in the comments. I’m always happy to help! —> ward@growwithward.com.

I regularly help companies implement growth hacking in their company and the mindset is always the hardest part to change. For that, you need training, guidance and the right processes. If you need help with this, please contact me.

FAQ on the Growth Hacking Mindset

What is a ‘growth hacking mindset’?

A Growth Hacking Mindset is a way of dealing with problems related to business growth, where you look for alternative solutions, give priority to progression over perfection and make use of data and new techniques. It is specifically characteristic of growth hackers and growth marketers.

How do I develop a growth hacking mindset within myself?

Developing your growth hacking mindset is a matter of consistently continuing to develop yourself. In this article, we discuss 5 methods to develop your growth hacking mindset. These are the five tips:
Tip 1: Change your image of ‘success’.
Tip 2: Don’t be stopped by obstacles.
Tip 3: ABC – Always Be Curious.
Tip 4: Develop your “Growth” Tribe.
Tip 5: Challenge your own assumptions.

Why is a growth hacking mindset so important?

A growth hacking mindset is important from two perspectives: personal and business. For you personally, your mindset is important, because it is the lens through which you look at problems and challenges. From a business perspective, a growth hacking mindset is important, because as a company you will constantly encounter new obstacles and issues. Someone with a growth hacking mindset is able to find a solution to those problems. In this article, I explain how a growth hacking mindset is useful for your company.

How do you give a growth hacking mindset to your employees as an employer/manager?

The most important thing is that you show your team room to develop themselves. You can do the following:
1) Give them time to try out new tactics, tools or tasks.
2) Stop telling them what to do; they must become self-reliant.
3) Schedule apprenticeship in their agenda so that they feel free to learn.
4) Set learning goals in which people want to develop.
Unfortunately, it is a long process. You need training, 1-on-1 guidance and the right process to succeed. If you need help with this, feel free to approach me.

Train your Growth Hacking Mindset
Picture of By Ward van Gasteren

By Ward van Gasteren

Ward van Gasteren is one of the first growth hackers in Europe, author of 'Growing Happy Clients', and freelance Growth Consultant to the fastest-growing startups (TikTok, StartupBootcamp, Catawiki) and biggest Fortune 500 enterprises (Pepsi, Cisco, Unilever)

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2 thoughts on “What is a Growth Hacking Mindset? (+ 5 tips to develop it)”

  1. Dear Ward,
    I think there may be a typo in “Data-driven choices instead of gut feeling” part:
    20 years ago, marketing budgets were assigned to different channels by the marketing manager. He/she made that “division” based on feeling

    Do u mean “decision”?

    • Thanks for your alertness! I did mean ‘decide how to divide the marketing budget among different marketing channels” haha, but I see where the confusion could come from. Thanks for reaching out and I’ve edited it.


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