No matter how great it is, your company probably isn’t going to be the next Amazon. It might not even be the next Uber.
But a company doesn’t have to be an industry-slaying unicorn to grow faster than its rivals. After all, growth is relative: what looks breakneck in one industry is ho-hum or even subpar in another. As long as you’re staying ahead of the crowd pace, you’re in good shape.
And there are plenty of reasons to do your best to stay ahead of the crowd pace. Fast growth equates to greater market share, especially in newer industries without established incumbents.
Every story has two sides, of course, and this one is no different. Not every business needs (and not every business owner or leader wants) to grow fast. There are persuasive arguments to be made for and against rapid business growth, as entrepreneur Scott Vollero recently noticed in his blog.
Before you chart your growth strategy, you need to do your homework and determine whether pulling out all the stops is really in your best interest. Once you build up a head of steam, it can be hard to dial back.
If you do determine that rapid growth is in your company’s best interest, you’ve got quite a task ahead of you. Here’s what you need to do to keep your enterprise from overheating and remain in the driver’s seat through thick and thin.
- Avoid Catastrophic External Risks
What’s that? Rapid growth with no risk?
Not a chance. If you really want your company to take off, you need to accept risk. A lot of it.
But you don’t have to accept catastrophic external risks capable of killing your company in one fell swoop. Such risks tend to be rare — they’re like moonshots, but very, very bad. Nevertheless, however unlikely they are to occur, they need to be smothered in the crib.
First, surround yourself with a formidable advisory team that has enough collective experience in your industry to anticipate pretty much anything that could go wrong. (Or, at least, has gone wrong at similar companies in the past.)
Second, protect yourself. That means looking into insurance and reinsurance, hiring the best lawyers you can afford to dot and cross your legal i’s and t’s, and avoiding international markets regarded as unfriendly or unpredictable for outside companies.
- Hire for Growth
When you’re growing at a breakneck pace, it can feel like hiring is your company’s sole reason for existence. And, in a way, that’s true. Hiring for growth is very different from hiring for maintenance. You need to weed out candidates based on how they’re likely to perform on a high-stakes stage where change is the only constant.
- Emphasize Branding and the Customer Experience
If you’re at $10 million in sales today and you’re aiming for $100 million in sales 18 months out, you need to act like a company with $100 million in sales. Among other things, that means ready-for-primetime branding and UX. Even if you know the truth, you need to trick your prospects and investors into believing you’re playing in the big kids’ sandbox.
- Look Into Franchising or Licensing
It’s glib to say that franchising and licensing offer all the upsides of rapid growth with none of the downsides. Running a franchisor is hard work, and there’s plenty that can go wrong when you attach your name to everything under the sun. (Just ask Donald Trump.) But both options are great if you’re hoping to scale — and raise your profile — without doing (and funding) all the legwork yourself.
- Scoop Up Distressed Competitors
Organic growth is hard, particularly in competitive or mature industries. If you have the enough capital, leverage, or both, the path of least resistance may well lie in snapping up distressed competitors at bargain prices. Avoid making moves merely to put competitors out of business though — every merger or acquisition should have clear upside for you, whether it’s access to a new geographical market or exposure to a new product line.
What are you doing to supercharge your business’s growth?