Is Your Business Built to Grow?
Much of what we believe about what it takes to scale a successful company and keep it growing is just plain wrong. Despite all the conventional wisdom about the greatness of America’s entrepreneurial culture, the fact is most companies start small and stay that way.
Think that’s an overstatement?
Consider this: In the United States, only seven tenths of one percent (0.7%) of all companies will ever reach $50 million in annual revenues. And an even smaller number, only one in a thousand companies (0.1%) will ever reach $250 million in annual sales revenues.
Business Growth – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I know firsthand how hard it is to scale a company and keep it growing. As a growth company leader, I’ve enjoyed the upside of business growth and endured its destructive nature.
In 1999, I was a senior leader for a fast-growing company in Austin, TX. We were intelligent, hard working and wildly ambitious. And we had a lot to celebrate. We had grown the business from a handful of customers to $3 billion in sales in just three years. Wall Street loved us. Investors wooed us. We received all kinds of honors. And an IPO was just months away. We believed we had the formula for growth and success. And we were wrong.
Less than a year later the company imploded. Collapsing under the weight of our own growth, we filed a $1 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We closed 30 offices, laid off 1,200 people, and went down as one of the biggest business failures in Texas history. It was the classic entrepreneurial dream come true that turned into the classic entrepreneurial nightmare.
It would be nice to say that the mistakes we made were unique to our situation. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. We got lost on our way from small to big and we are not alone.
The Reality of Business Growth
Growth can provide incredible opportunities but with those opportunities comes risks. Too much growth, if not well-planned and managed, can wreak havoc and overwhelm a business and can often outstrip the capabilities of people, management teams, and companies. Poorly managed growth can weaken a company’s culture, business model, and brand. The quest for growth often leads to bad outcomes and even business ruin.
Growth should be a strategic decision made only after the risks have been assessed. Unfortunately, most companies never take the time to make that assessment, nor do they take the time to prepare the organization and its people for growth. The vast majority of companies pursue growth in a way that brings with it as many risks of failure as chances for success. Growth happens and leaders react. They roll the dice and hope for the best. But the odds are against them and more than luck is needed to counter the odds.
Growth companies are the engine of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. But given the haphazard way most businesses grow, the fact that such a tiny percentage actually succeed isn’t really surprising. Consistent high-growth companies are the exception not the rule. That’s reality.
The fundamental issue is a lack of knowledge of how to avoid the pitfalls, how to think through the issues, how to operate the business, and how to systematically manage growth. In short, how to build and maintain a business that can survive in the short term and succeed in the long term.
In Search of Answers
Why are some businesses able to experience sustainable growth and success while others, in the same industry, stumble along? Why do most promising businesses fail to reach their full potential? What goes wrong? What can be done to increase the odds of an organization’s success over the long term?
I wanted answers to these questions and more. I wanted to know where the information was that could help a leader steer a fast-growing company through the pitfalls that lie between a promising business and a market leading enterprise. Unfortunately, the majority of the advice handed out by the business press, “gurus,” and consulting firms simply doesn’t begin to address the real challenges businesses face as they target the next stage of growth.
You might think there would be hundreds of books on the subject, but there aren’t. Most of the attention gets focused at the extreme ends of the spectrum – very small businesses and very large businesses. But fast-growing businesses face a completely different set of challenges and opportunities than Fortune 500 firms or start-ups. And I thought it was time that someone uncovered what it takes to grow small companies into big companies.
More than fifteen years ago I set out to understand what enables that tiny fraction of promising companies to successfully grow beyond the entrepreneurial phase of development. More importantly, I wanted to understand exactly what a CEO and management team must do, at every step along the way, to achieve scalable, sustainable, profitable growth.
Built to Grow
The understanding I’ve gained comes from experiencing the dynamics of what actually happens in successful AND unsuccessful companies as they grow. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of growth company CEOs and their teams to help them navigate the challenges they face as they travel through every stage of growth from start-up to market leadership.
I’ve distilled the insights and experiences I’ve gathered as an executive, entrepreneur, and consultant into a free eBook – Built to Grow: A Survival Manual for Growing Companies. This eBook is a comprehensive view of what it really takes to build an enduring growth company. Built to Grow will help you:
- Avoid the pitfalls that derail most companies as they attempt to scale.
- Understand how successful companies actually grow over time.
- Anticipate and plan for how growth will impact your organization.
- Develop the strategies, skills, and capabilities necessary to get to the next level of growth.
- Assess whether or not it is time to change your methods and management approach.
- Focus on the right things at the right time.
Why this eBook?
Unfortunately, I continue to see growing companies of various sizes and in various industries stumble and fall over the same fundamental issues. Too often growth overwhelms companies and their management teams and even destroys once promising businesses. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Leaders of growing companies must concern themselves with the nuts and bolts of building a company, not just the exciting stuff like developing products and articulating the vision. This eBook will show you how.
My ultimate objective in writing Built to Grow is to help leaders build successful growth companies that expand into a powerful market presence. Built to Grow provides a methodology for approaching the most vexing problems of business growth and guidance through the most difficult passages. This eBook is an attempt to provide you with key concepts to be aware of, think about, and incorporate as you build and grow a business.
Although every company’s situation is unique, growth itself presents challenges that are common to every business. Addressing these challenges requires a holistic approach to cover the entire scope of what it takes to succeed. If you’re ready to find out exactly what it takes to go from small to big—and survive, download your free copy of Built to Grow.
Download your FREE copy of Built to Grow here.