Businesses in hypergrowth can just as quickly fizzle out, unable to scale to meet demand. So if business is booming, how can you keep up, especially if you’re running a client-based business that requires you to keep track of incoming requests, items in production, meetings and team member schedules?
Fortunately, there are tools and processes that can help you stay ahead of the hypergrowth curve — without compromising on quality.
Hypergrowth is “the steep part of the S-curve that most young markets and industries experience at some point, where the winners get sorted from the losers,” according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. But it’s not only an attribute of start-ups — hypergrowth can take place in any industry, at any phase, thanks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as both new and legacy firms turn to disruptive technologies and business models.
Where to start?
So if you’re in hypergrowth mode, what’s next? First, create a strategic plan, but keep it simple. Your plan should include standardizing business processes and technologies that can scale — and keep pace — as the business grows. Thanks to the cloud, this is easier than ever, but it still requires strategy.
“For successful scalability in terms of operations, companies identify their core businesses and intellectual property rights (IPRs) and often outsource the noncore needs that might inhibit scaling, should they be pursued with internal resources,” according to a report by the World Economic Forum.
To keep pace with hypergrowth is one thing — to do it while maintaining quality control is another. Flaws, technical glitches or bad service that gets unwanted attention on social media can rapidly reverse that trend. If “the prosperity of the business can outpace the ability of the business to maintain that success,” then rapid success can lead to failure, according to an article in Inc.
Trusting the right people
But there’s no roadmap for success — especially if you’re heading into uncharted territory. That means you need agile decision-making.
“Lean processes, simple structures and scalable operations are assisted by clear and well-tested management practices. Successful firms describe decision-making as iterative, fast and experimental. To ensure continuous scalability, hypergrowth companies seldom follow an exact roadmap. Rather, they navigate ever-changing, unmapped landscapes,” according to the World Economic Forum report.
But how exactly do you put that into practice? Ultimately, it comes down to hiring the right people and trusting them to do their job, without layers of red tape that will stifle growth.
Hiring the right people may seem like an obvious point. But as founder of PandaDoc, Mikita Mikado, points out, “many leaders within hyper-growth companies get this part wrong.” In their quest to hire the best of the best, they “often hire the wrong fit for the stage of growth their company is in.”
Training and development
Trust your team. Don’t micromanage, but give them the tools they need to succeed. That starts with training and development. Indeed, a rigorous focus on salesforce training is a “clear differentiator” between the fast and slow-growing companies surveyed by McKinsey in a report that uncovers ‘secrets’ of high-growth companies.
It also means providing digital tools and technologies that can make employees more productive, while better serving customers — from automating tedious administrative tasks to helping workers collaborate, analyze data and make better decisions. And thanks to the cloud, companies in hypergrowth mode can get the technology they need without having to reinvent the wheel.
Consider a CRM
Managing your accounts means managing your customers, and an Excel spreadsheet isn’t going to cut it in hypergrowth mode. Consider investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, which not only keeps track of customers but also your relationship with them, including transactions and interactions. This can be invaluable for cross-selling, upselling, targeting new marketing campaigns or even wooing back inactive customers.
In hypergrowth mode, you may not have time (or resources) to roll out an on-premise solution, but a cloud-based CRM is an increasingly popular alternative since you leave the software management to a trusted third party.
And there’s plenty to choose from. One of the better known CRM platforms is Salesforce, but there are plenty of others, such as HubSpot, Insightly and Nimble.
Aside from managing customers, many of these tools also track leads, automate sales and provide support to vendors and partners — some offer social media management and analytics platforms. You may also want to consider cloud-based accounting software, such as FreshBooks, Intuit QuickBooks Online, Xero or Sage 50cloud to manage payroll and keep track of expenses.
Also worth considering is the emerging area of customer success management platforms, which track customer success at each stage of the buyer’s journey to maximize lifetime value. A few options include ClientSuccess, which helps retain and grow your customer base with analytics, actionable insights and best practices, and Gainsight, which allows you to operationalize the entire customer lifecycle.
As a business in hypergrowth, it’s easy to focus on accumulating more and more customers. But don’t sacrifice the customer experience for customer acquisition. Hypergrowth can’t be sustained indefinitely, so ultimately you want to turn those acquisitions into loyal, repeat customers who refer their friends.
So keep it simple, make it scalable and invest in the right tools — and you’ll avoid the hypergrowth hangover.