What are the ingredients to help you grow your business? I recently discussed hyper-growth with Michael Holthouse. He founded Paranet, grew it rapidly and sold it to Sprint for $375 million. He is now exponentially growing Lemonade Day, the flagship program at his nonprofit, Prepared 4 Life. Here is what you need to do to achieve hyper-growth within your own company.
Passion and purpose
Passion and purpose are the foundation of your business. Ask yourself and your team, why are you in that specific business? If your primary answer is making money, then you may grow in the short term but long-term, sustainable growth will be a challenge. Find your passion or find another business.
“Our passion at Paranet was to invent a new paradigm in the computer-networking world. It drove us,” Holthouse says. “And, our purpose at Prepared 4 Life is to help America’s youth develop business and entrepreneurial skills.”
Clarity of the business model
Understand and articulate with absolute clarity your core management philosophies that detail your business model and approach. If your core philosophies are ambiguous, achieving hyper-growth will be excruciatingly difficult.
“I strongly believe in a decentralized organization,” Holthouse says. “It is a business model that allowed us to produce rapid growth.”
Big, audacious vision
While your passion and purpose must create a sense of commitment, your vision must create excitement.
“I like fast-growing, high-impact organizations,” he says. “We set an audacious but achievable goal of reaching $100 million in revenue in five years. We needed a vision that inspired people. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than them.”
Hyper-growth is rarely a linear path. You will have to be opportunistic and nimble. Your strategy must dynamically respond to ground realities and execution data. A stale strategy will kill hyper-growth. If you are clear about the business model and are nimble in your strategy then you can bring the right products to the market at the right time.
“Our strategy to find an intersection of interests with other entities such as schools, community and religious organizations has allowed us to grow LemonadeDay rapidly,” he says.
Scalable work processes
Hyper-growth involves rapidly scaling up your business. Small cracks turn into gaping holes as the organization grows. Therefore, you must ensure your work processes are well designed and consistent with your mission and vision. The interactions and handshakes between the teams, the roles and responsibilities, the expectations and accountabilities must be crystal clear.
“We held everyone accountable to predefined goals and gave them the authority to achieve the goals based on their talents and drive,” Holthouse says.
Hyper-growth is not for everyone. It takes a different mindset. The willingness to not just survive but thrive on change. You must hire the right people who understand hyper-growth, want to excel in that environment and have the desire and the wherewithal to succeed. The right culture provides the energy to help the organization self-propel itself to great heights.
“If you are going to reinvent an industry, hire the leaders in the industry — the eagles. Eagles fly one at a time, they are majestic, they soar; ducks you will find a dime a dozen,” he says. “Eagles are A players. They will help create the right culture.”
The focus on making it happen makes all the difference. Fighting the distractions, the ambiguities and the confusion and making relentless progress toward their vision are the hallmarks of companies who achieve hyper-growth.
“To be successful say what you are going to do, do it when you say it will be done, do it for the price you said, and if you do that consistently, your customer will never leave you,” Holthouse says.
Ravi Kathuria is president of Cohegic Corp., a management consulting, executive coaching and sales coaching firm, and he is president of the Houston Strategy Forum. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, WorldNews, and featured on CBS Radio and the BusinessMakers Show. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “The Coherent Company, The Struggle for the Next Level.”