This Post is the second of a series of posts on the topic of scaling a hypergrowth enterprise. My former company, CyberRep, grew from $550,000 to over $80 million in annual revenue over a 9 year span. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about People as the first of 5 key elements for scaling a hypergrowth company, the other four being Culture, Scalable Customers, Process, and Capital. Today, let’s examine Culture.
Culture is the company’s DNA. It’s the genetic code which governs how the business is built, how customers are acquired and services, how employees are managed and developed, what core values matter, etc. We sought to build a culture of hypergrowth, opportunism, speed, and flexibility. This was integrated into our “Top Ten” corporate core value set and our “Four Pillars of Success” which I will discuss in future posts.
When should a Culture be established? – Whether you’re starting a new business, a division, group, or team, it’s critical that Culture be established at the very beginning. Why? Because, it’s always easier for new hires to fit into an existing culture, than to change a group’s culture once they are operating. People hate or fear change. It’s for this reason that so many M&A deals fail. Buyers are unable to impose their new culture on the legacy team, so integration is never fully realized and dysfunction sets in, but that’s a topic for another day.
Hypergrowth – It may seem tautological that scaling a hypergrowth enterprise requires a culture of hypergrowth. Well, that’s right. Our culture was focused on our “Four Pillars of Success”: Client Satisfaction, Profitability, Revenue Growth, and Associate Satisfaction. These pillars were interdependent, and our leadership team evangelized the focus on these objectives, including REVENUE GROWTH, on a 24/7 basis. Our objective was to grow via new customer acquisition, but more importantly, via our existing client base by expanding current offerings, cross-selling new services, and thrilling the heck out of our them. Our sales team, client service team, and operations teams formally reported in on their progress on a weekly basis. We held everyone accountable. By sending a clear, consistent and constant message of hypergrowth, the focus on revenue became a daily responsibility of EVERY associate, and it was was incorporated into our company’s DNA.
Opportunism – In order for a company to get into hypergrowth mode, it MUST be able to identify or create new opportunities. Opportunism is a highly entrepreneurial trait. A company needs to nurture and support creativity and risk taking in order to establish an opportunistic culture. While it is very important to focus on key objectives, you have to also keep your eyes open for those windows of opportunity that may open. This could be something a client needs which you do not currently offer, or perhaps a great acquisition, or even a new line of business. Keeping a pulse on client requirements, and the market as a whole is crucial. But the key thing here for hypergrowth enterprises is to keep fostering that culture of opportunism, creativity and risk taking, and letting your smart people come up with great ideas on which you can then capitalize.
Speed and Flexibility – Speed kills. And so does flexibility. The big advantage of small organizations is that they are more nimble and responsive that the big guys, and therefore they can grab more market share by doing things that larger and more inflexible competitors can’t do. And, believe me, customers do appreciate this! It can be tempting to fall into the trap of wanting to “cookie cut” a product or service offering, and then resist customizing it to a particular client’s specifications. If you want to create a hypergrowth business, don’t fall into this trap. For service companies, especially, not being flexible is risky for a bunch of reasons: client dissatisfaction, revenue loss, lost opportunities, etc. In our experience, by jumping through hoops for clients and delivering faster and better than our larger competitors, we grew astronomically, not just with these clients, but with others who had similar needs. Again, it’s up to leadership to create and evangelize this culture of speed and flexibility through any means possible. So many successful and FLEXIBLE hypergrowth companies have pivoted and morphed their business models into hypergrowth mode successfully, Facebook, Apple, and even Groupon and Living Social, being examples.
Business is Darwinian, and Charles Darwin himself said that it is the “adaptable,” not the strongest or smartest, who will survive:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survies, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
Part 3 of this series will address “Scalable Customers” as the thrid essential ingredient in scaling a hypergrowth enterprise.
Thank you for reading. I’d love your thoughts, so please Comment below…and please sign up for my Blog too! (See the Signup box on the sidebar of my Home Page)