Growth is the goal of every business, whether it’s decades old or barely out of its incubation period. After all, if you aren’t growing, you’re dying. But managing growth is just as important as going after it—too much or too fast can damage your business as surely as it can move it forward.
Here are some insights from the folks who have first-hand experience with the challenge of growth.
You’ll need to weather a few storms
— GoToMeeting Canada (@GoToMeetingCA) January 11, 2015
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsLong before Nicholas Woodman, the founder and CEO of Woodman Labs (better known as the creator of the wildly popular GoPro series of action cams) found his success selling digital cameras to the adrenaline-junky crowd, he had to endure a failed dot.com startup. He raised over $4 million in VC money for game company Funbug, but it died during the dot.com crash when Woodman was only 26. Even after starting the company that would eventually make him a billionaire, Woodman spent years selling straps that would hold your existing camera to your arm—a far cry from the digital devices his company sells today.
Treat your business like a baby
Brian Smith, founder of Ugg Australia, knows a thing or two about growth. He’s been the driving force behind the popularity of the ubiquitous footwear brand since 1979. Since then, the company has gone on to generate hundreds of millions in annual sales.
Smith says that the key to growth in the early years is to give your company constant attention, likening it to a baby. The analogy continues to hold as your company grows beyond its infancy. Once it hits its teenage years there will be a temptation to tackle everything, all at once (just like a typical teen) and this is where the greatest risk resides.
Getting beyond this period intact is the key to long-term success Smith says. If you can guide your company into “adulthood” it won’t require nearly as much care and might even become self-sustaining.
— GoToMeeting Canada (@GoToMeetingCA) January 15, 2015
Waterloo-based Athena Software provides a platform for case management that it calls “Penelope.” Athena has been continuously developing Penelope for over 13 years and the company has experienced significant growth thanks to Penelope’s popularity (try saying that three times, fast!). When we asked Athena to share some of their insights on global growth, the topic of innovation naturally came up.
To stay innovative, despite the pressures of growth, the company remained focused on its clients, claiming that client input at some level has driven all innovation.
Internally, they make an effort to hire smart people and then encourage that team to provide input and new ideas on an on-going basis. They also uses their blog as a means of communicating ideas and soliciting feedback from the greater web community.