Four types of growth hacks to supercharge growth hacking.

Four types of growth hacks to supercharge growth hacking.

Use the four types of growth hacks with a checklist as a cheat sheet to know how to find, develop and validate growth hacking opportunities giving you a competitive advantage
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The four types of growth hacks and a checklist of ways to exploit them for super growth

There are four types of growth hacks that help growth hackers unravel growth opportunities by finding unique opportunities others don’t see.

As covered before, we discussed the mindset and habits of growth hackers, and one of the fundamental aspects is how they see opportunities.  In most cases, it’s built on the exploitation of a weakness someone else has.  These exploitations are unique growth opportunities that few see and can capitalize on. 

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Four types of growth hacks

These four areas can be seen as a guide to answering the question “where to find a growth hack.” This guiding question sets the tone and process to finding, executing, and creating new growth hacks.

Four types of growth hacks

The optimization point is the target in deciding which of the four types of growth hacks best suits a situation.  Through our research, we have found the optimization point is best measured by

  1. Speed of execution – how fast and effective you can action your growth hack.
  2. Level of flexibility to adjust – how fast and accurately you can change 
  3. Cost of execution – how to keep execution cost-effective 
  4. Return on investment – how to lower cost, efforts, and time against the results 

In optimizing growth hacking, we look at the four types of growth hacks.  There are four types of growth hacks they seek to exploit:

In optimizing growth hacking, we look at the four types of growth hacks.  There are four types of growth hacks they seek to exploit:

  1. Find a limitation – an area not being solved well enough. 
  2. Find a gap – an area not being solved at all.
  3. Find a hole – an area where its completely dysfunctional 
  4. Find a combo – an area where a combination has not been exploited. 
Types of Growth Hacks, Gaps being the most used growth hacks

The most exploited type of growth hack is gaps, while combinations are the least executed.  Although gaps might rise to the tide on this, that’s because they are the easiest to identify and execute.  In complete contrast, the combinations are the least exploited due to complexity, lack of vision, and a willingness to try new things.  

Business methodologies

Growth acceleration is one of the four types of methodologies used in the practice of management.  The growth accelerator space is the most underdeveloped of the four types that being:

  • Offering design models to design products and services
  • Managing projects models design to manage development
  • Building a company models design for building a company
  • Accelerating Growth models designed to accelerate the growth process

To learn more about business methodologies and how they work click here to learn more.

Find a limitation – an area not being solved well enough. 

Limitations are when parts of a system cannot reach their full potential; it can be something missing, or not done well, or something that just doesn’t function right.  It also can be something that has been overlooked and creates a limitation.  

Find a limitation - an area not being solved well enough
  1. Neglect  

When a limitation is known, no one wants to take on the effort or pain to solve this, and hence they find other more comfortable places to put their efforts.  This presents a significant limitation since they outright ignore it and are most likely unwilling to tackle it.

Validation checklist

  • Ignoring the growth opportunities
  • Miscualations of the growth opportunities
  • Can’t see the value in the growth opportunities themselves 
  • Not investing in the overall growth opportunities. 
  • Not interested in the growth opportunities
  1. Blind-spot 

When a limitation exists, no one really sees it, understands it, or even acknowledges it.  This is a super ample space to be, as it gives you a natural advantage of being ahead of the curve.  These opportunities are usually straightforward, but no one sees them.

Validation checklist

  • Don’t see the growth opportunities.
  • Don’t understand the growth opportunities. 
  • Don’t see the value in the growth opportunities.
  • Don’t know how to make the growth opportunities.
  • Don’t give it importance to the growth opportunities. 
  1. Underestimated 

When a limitation is known, understood, and even being actively tackled.  However, they don’t see the real opportunity as they have become exhausted or numb to see the same problem repeatedly.  This also gives a natural advantage of taking a new perspective others have not.

Validation checklist

  • Undervalue the growth opportunities 
  • Miscalculating the growth opportunities 
  • Don’t see value in the growth opportunities. 
  • Don’t see the growth opportunities all together.
  • Mindset is blocked from seeing the growth opportunities. 

CASE: Blockbuster was neglecting the streaming market very early on although they saw it coming and even had better service than Netflix to start with.  However, they were to invest in their physical space and retail footprint.  This mindset blinded them from seeing the future of their industry.  As a result, this became a major limitation that Netflix exploited very well.

Find a gap – an area not being solved at all.

A gap is an element where something is missing or not done well at all.  This is not a limitation but rather the absence of something vital or not seen at all.  Gaps present a massive opportunity and account for about 25% of all growth hacks undertaken.


Find a gap - an area not being solved at all
  1. Unseen

When no one sees a gap, this is usually due to a lack of insights or the ability to see fresh perspectives.  These are some of the best growth hacking opportunities where you can get ahead of the curve before everyone else.

Validation checklist

  • Undetectable to the majority 
  • Not enough exposure 
  • Not enough insights
  • Not enough experiments 
  • No one cares or see value. 
  1. Not understood

When a gap isn’t well known, its existence is known, but not enough insights on how to resolve this gap.  This means no one has understood the opportunity itself and why no one will invest their time and efforts.  This is where you stand to shine.

Validation checklist

  • Poor insights and low quality data
  • Little research conducted to understand
  • Lack of foresight to see what is coming in the future. 
  • Not willing to take risk and experiment 
  • Outcomes are not seen as valuable enough to justify taking action. 
  1. About to be solved 

When a gap is known and actively being resolved, this doesn’t mean there is no opportunity but rather a chance to resolve the gap better than others.  This would be a more competitive space but worthwhile to tackle.

Validation checklist

  • Highly competitive space 
  • Utilize the efforts of others to get an even better solution. 
  • Others are not seeking collaboration opportunities. 
  • Validated demand and value, justifying pursuing growth in this area  
  • Large potential of volume and growth 

CASE: AirBNB saw an unseen market in the area of tourism, where people can use their own houses as hotels.  As simple as this might sound, they saw what no one else was getting out of asset management and focusing on service experiment management.  While hotel chains continued to invest heavily into assets and branding, AirBNB was able to help people build income using their own properties, meanwhile giving customers a cost-effective experience.

Find a hole – an area where its completely dysfunctional 

A hole is a situation, an element, or a system in part or in whole where it is outright dysfunctional.  The parts don’t come together well or not effectively and hence create a situation of poor performance.

Find a hole - an area where its completely dysfunctional
  1. A big mess

When a hole is so deep, no one wants to tackle it. This is when the dirty work is seen as not worth it.  This means people are underestimating growth opportunities and don’t know the value of the outcome.

Validation checklist

  • High level of complexity 
  • People avoiding investing effort and time 
  • Lots of confusion and misinformation 
  • Undervaluing potential outcomes 
  • Reorganization, rethinking, and a fresh take is needed. 
  1. No one wants the pain.

When a hole is seen as too painful to tackle, no one is willing to invest the effort to find growth opportunities.  This is a blind spot because it is highly underestimated, and the outcomes are not understood by most.

Validation checklist

  • Efforts and time are perceived as too much to justify investing.
  • Outcomes are undervalued 
  • Few people are actively pursuing. 
  • Perceived as low value, low outcome, and not worth it
  • The pain is seen as too much, and no one wants to take it on.
  1. Fresh perspective

When a hole is an old problem and seems everyone has tried to find growth, but no one has.  This simply means an entirely new approach is needed where everyone is blinded to the possibilities related to that hole.

Validation checklist

  • New insights others don’t’ know.
  • Seeing new ways of solving a problem that has not been attempted
  • Has been tried and tested but not working well
  • See a different, more valuable outcome than others.
  • The investment of time and effort is justified, but others don’t think so

CASE: Ghost, cloud, or dark kitchen as they are referred to aren’t something new, but when the logistical nightmare of the delivery side of the food business turned into an even bigger mess due to the covid-19 pandemic disruption started.  The Food and Beverage industry is being disrupted by delivery companies like Deliveroo, not restaurants.  Deliveroo took advantage of the BIG MESS happening in managing logistics, order fulfillment, and marketing on the front-end of food businesses.

Find a combo – an area where a combination has not been exploited. 

This is when two or more existing elements are combined via an integration that allows them to work together.  This usually will create a massive amount of cost savings, time effectiveness, and a significant reduction in efforts required. 

Find a combo - an area where a combination has not been exploited.
  1. Never been done

When a combination has not been attempted, remember, this is about connecting two or more things that exist that work optimally together.  Ideally, in this case, something no one has connected the dots with before. 

Validation checklist

  • Never seen or done before
  • Attempted but not enough efforts put into it.
  • Attempted but not done right before
  • A blind spot where others simply do not see or understand it 
  • Low levels of optimization, not combined well, or more improvements needed. 
  1. Not done well

When a combination has been attempted but not well enough.  This is usually because they have not integrated two or more elements well or explored other ways or connections to enhance this specific growth opportunity, 

Validation checklist

  • Ineffective combinations for better results
  • Inefficient combinations for better results
  • Expired combinations that did work but do not now
  • Have not explored adding another combination
  • Seek creative combinations not attempted before
  1. Optimization 

When a combination exists and is working because it is not effective or efficient anymore.  This would be exploring a better way to make it work or a new combination that is more effective and efficient. 

Validation checklist

  • Finding better integrations for better results
  • Finding better tools for better results
  • Finding an additional combination for better results
  • Finding a better supplement for one of the combinations 
  • Reconfiguring existing combinations for a better result

CASE: Zapier built a whole business around this.  They become the combo exploiters of the SaaS world.  If the connection did not exist, they made it happen. They took the most popular and highly used services out there and created an easy and effective way to create connections to supercharge and automate your workflow.  Although this is a software-based example. Combinations happen across many levels, not just software.

Where to find growth hacks

Using the four types of growth hacks gives you a cheat sheet on where to look.  This applies to all systems, platforms, or general situations in which you need to hack growth.  Keep in mind; a growth hack is about disproportionate results.  This is about exerting the least amount of effort and resources to get the most results possible. In general, we have two scenarios to deal with:

  1. Problem > solution — You define a growth problem, then seek to find a growth hack.
  2. Solution > problem — You have a growth hack and then see a problem to apply it to.

In the first scenario, this provides a broad scope of potential as the solution is always pointing towards an application making this approach practical.  In the second scenario, a very well-developed solution is in place, but it needs to seek problems where it can be applied.  The challenge with the second scenario is it often doesn’t exactly fit.  So people try to make it work, and that is where more trouble comes into play.  The best of the two scenarios is the start by understanding the growth problem in detail.

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Growth hacking optimized

In conclusion, knowing which type of growth hack to use in which scenario gives growth hackers a significant advantage by measuring their efforts.  We have been using growth Labz and Artificial intelligence-driven tools to determine the best growth hacks to use.

Growth hacking optimized

99% of growth hacks do not work.  It is primarily due to lack of testing, ability to change quickly and to keep it cost-effective.  Experimentation is at the heart of making growth hacking a success, and mastering that capability is the number one challenge growth hackers face to ensure long-term success.


Gain access to a $249 report, FREE.  This report is about the return on investment and growth hacking experiments helping you pinpoint critical decisions to supercharge your growth using 107K data points from some of the world’s fastest-growing companies.


FAQs for this article

What are the four types of growth hacks?

Where to growth hack - Growth Thinking design

1. Find a limitation – an area not being solved well enough. 
2. Find a gap – an area not being solved at all.
3. Find a hole – an area where its completely dysfunctional 
4. Find a combo – an area where a combination has not been exploited.

Which type of growth hack is most used?

Find a Gap

The most used type of growth hacks are — Finding a gap, this is because they are the easiest to find, exploit and capitalize on.

Which type of growth hack is the least used?

Find a combo

The least used type of growth hack is — Finding a combination. This is highly overlooked due to the efforts required but the outcomes are very prosperous.

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