One of the most gratifying experiences after being named to the Inc 5000 was the outpouring of support and encouragement from so many friends, family, clients, and colleagues. It meant a lot to know that share in our excitement. One of the first follow up questions I get is: How did you all do it? Well, there’s no one answer, but I wanted to share a few learnings from this journey.
1. Embrace a growth mindset. This may be a common phrase, but it can be very complicated to implement. The reason being is that as a growing business, you have to hold firm on certain core values while also being maniacally focused on finding where you can provide more value for your customers in a sustainable manner. It’s a paradox that many growing businesses face. When faced with a conflict on this issue, I ask myself a couple of questions.
- Is it good for our clients. Does it provide meaningful value and address their needs?
- Is it good for our team. Does it make use of our strengths? Does it fit within our current infrastructure and bandwidth? Will they be energized by this change?
- Is it sustainable as a business? How does this change impact our economics, processes, and operating principles.
If the answer to all three of these is yes, we pursue the change. If the answer to any of these is no, we brainstorm as a group to make sure we are not missing anything. We never let fear of the unknown stop us. We simply keep asking questions to frame the problem, knowing that a problem well defined is a problem half solved. And if you see a way to make a change that will help your business, figure out how to embrace it quickly. Even if you can’t implement it all right way, think about ways to start the making changes sooner than later to get learnings.
2. Run your race. It’s easy to get caught up in what other businesses are doing, how they are growing, what strategies are working and not working for them. But, each business is unique. Each has different strengths, different challenges, and different teams. While it’s important to try to learn from others where possible, it’s critical to work your own plan for growth. You know your business better than anyone. In today’s social media age, it’s easy to see shiny headlines but not see all the underlying challenges that were met along the way. Run your own race. Follow your plan and adapt it based on your business, not what others are doing.
3. Create a robust sales and marketing plan. This one sounds obvious, but it’s the one I see businesses shortchanging the most. Growth eats cash. There is no way around it. Growth isn’t always efficient. If you’re focused on maximizing the immediate ROI of every decision, you’re leaving growth on the table. If you think you need 100 leads a month in your sales funnel to hit your target, build a plan to get to 200. This means investments in sales staff, marketing and brand building, and infrastructure to support sales. These will likely not have an immediate ROI, but if you are committed to growth, embrace a growth mindset, and run your race, you’re setting yourself up for long term sustainable growth. Many businesses short change the marketing and brand building side, but this is critical for long term growth. We’ve been running our own brand building advertising campaigns and each year that goes by, we see the cumulative effect. If we made decisions based on immediate ROI, we would have pulled the plug long ago. But we knew these were investments for the future, and I’m glad we continued to invest in brand building because that foundation is paying massive dividends in everything we’re doing today.
This is by no means an all-encompassing list of best practices. But these are the areas we have seen pose the greatest challenge for many of the businesses we work with. If we can help tailor your advertising strategy to something that is effective and sustainable for the long haul, please don’t hesitate to reach out!