What is it that makes some businesses far more successful than others?
In the years I have worked with successful fast growth companies I have seen the following traits displayed by each of them
1. Think BIG
These highly successful fast growth companies may start out small but they think big from day one. This may be evident from their aggressive growth targets; their fearlessness in competing against companies 100 x bigger than them; or how they organise themselves internally with CEO, CFO, CMO etc titles.
2. Cover bands don’t change the world
Their mission is crystal clear. They know what they want to achieve even if they’re not exactly sure how they will make it happen – yet. To be another “me-too” business is not an option. The mission is sometimes disruptive in existing markets; sometimes a new slant on existing markets or other times striking out into completely new blue ocean markets. Having a clear mission that cascades throughout the organisation allows for decisions to be made quickly: “Does this move us closer to our mission / goal / objective – Yes or No?”
3. Give me a lever long enough and I’ll move the world
The business must be scalable if it is to continue on its growth trajectory without sacrificing the majority of its profit margin on more people, materials etc. Achieving scalability is different from business to business but every successful business has a plan for profitable scalable growth.
4. Clients’ interests are always put 1st
No matter what internal protocol says, if a client is unhappy they will go the extra mile to put it right. There is no navel gazing. They treat every client like it is their only client. I use the word ‘client’ rather than ‘customer’ deliberately – a customer may be viewed as transactional – a ‘one-off’ – whereas a client is a long-term relationship. These successful companies want clients.
5. No need for corporate values charts
Every member of the team is an embodiment of the culture of the organisation in the way in which they act every day. I am not sure if this stems from the fact that the founder(s) of the business are directly involved in the recruitment of new staff in the early stages and therefore recruit only those who understand and resonate with the mission of the business? Whichever, it works as you will often hear clients or suppliers reflect “Where did they find staff like that? They were so keen, so helpful, so eager to please – it was a pleasure working with them”.
6. Invest in many small bets
They know that if they are to grow and respond to changing market needs they will need to take risks and try new stuff. Trying new stuff costs time and money. Staking the future of the business on 1 new idea, product or service is folly – the walls can crumble in an instant if the project fails. So rather than sit tight and do nothing, these highly successful businesses try lots of little projects and test them with the market. If the feedback is positive (and cash is being received) then they can invest little by little into these little bets until they have a fully fledged new offering.
7. Dynamism is built into their DNA
It seems like there is a constant feedback loop going on in the business. Client-facing team members share successes and failures internally with lightening speed. Advances in technology allow these businesses to observe and listen to client needs. Tweaks to products and/or services are made on a daily basis. There is no standing still. Ever.