The journey of a high growth business is very much a roller coaster ride with added twists and turns, some you see coming over the horizon and others smacking you in the face without prior notice. It has struck me that high growth businesses and their teams need to create a whole team of what I call critical friends to support the growth journey, these include:
1. Customers – we have to convince them we can deliver and do the job well. Very often the catalyst for high growth is a single customer who trusts you and your company with a big order. Many customers/buyers like to play it safe and all too often will default to the less hassle option. You must persuade this critical friend to give you the break, if they do, be sure they enjoy a great experience, this big order provides the evidence to others that you can handle serious levels of business. Let them down and you have potentially blown it.
2. Funders – many companies hit a road block because of cash. They need the necessary funding to take their business to the next level, without this critical friend you are going nowhere. Be sure you have trusted advisers, not fee chasers – they should help you present your case in a clear and concise way. Always keep your bank in the loop and supply them with regular management accounts. Avoid surprises, if you envisage a problem let them know well in advance.
3.Strategic partners – An organisation is often viewed by the company they keep, be sure to surround yourself with partners and collaborators that add value to your brand. Strategic partnering can help you extend your service offering, enter new markets and innovate. For new high growth businesses partnering with larger organisations can help you punch above your weight.
4.New Staff – As a business grows, gaps start to emerge in ability and capability. Remember all companies need thinkers, doers, controllers and sellers. New critical friends to complement the management team are often pivotal to moving a business to the next level – typically sales and financial control. Word of caution, be careful about how you choose these new friends, so often lack of rigour in selection can lead to cash burn! I have seen it so often with high growth businesses recruiting sales staff that never make the mark.
5. Mentors – These critical friends are so important for an entrepreneurial founder. The journey can be lonely and all to often the leader has to put on a brave face, in front of staff, customers, suppliers (and all too often family). This can be a draining experience. All successful entrepreneurs I have researched have consult mentors in times of need, this can be both business and emotional issues. Mentors help to develop new ideas, overcome barriers, connect you with experts, help out on strategy, help to shift mindset, help to prioritise……..
Be sure to find these critical friends, my research shows they make the journey much more manageable.