The annual Inc. 5000 ranking of the nation's fastest-growing companies was released last week, and it's amazing to pore through the list. It represents an incredibly diverse set of companies and entrepreneurs, all with their own stories of success.
I am proud to report that OtterBox made a strong showing again, at No. 85. We actually made the honor roll this year, joining the ranks of companies on the list for five or more years. Fast growth is not easy, especially given the global economic climate during the past several years. Maintaining fast growth is an even bigger challenge.
In 2007, when OtterBox first landed on the ranking, at No. 2,163, we had 27 employees. Today, we have more than 500 and continue to expand. There's no secret or single right way to grow and continue to grow a business, but below are a few tips that have pushed OtterBox on this upward trajectory:
1. Take Notes
Entrepreneurial success isn't new--the path has been forged by many before, and there is no reason to break entirely new ground. I've relied heavily on the genius of others when building my business. The ideas of Michael Gerber, Jim Collins, Dennis Deaton, and many others are thriving at OtterBox and surely at countless other Inc. 5000 honorees.
2. Embrace Change
The only thing that is constant at a fast-growing company is change. If adjustments, transformations, and overall business evolution make you queasy, then you're in the wrong business. Accepting that change will occur isn't enough. True adaptability comes when change is welcomed.
3. Cherish Culture
It's easy to get caught up in the nitty-gritty, tangible elements of your business, but the culture of your company should drive everything else. If you don't take time to foster culture early, it's going to be very difficult to instill it later.
4. Know When to Let Go
Entrepreneur CEOs breathe the first life into their companies, but they can also suffocate them. There is a time to step aside and let someone smarter and better suited to a large organization take the driver's seat.
5. Do What's Right
It's so simple yet so often overlooked. If you do the right things, the right things will happen. This is not an immediate gratification play, but if you're building for sustainable growth, that doesn't matter. Do what's right by your customers, employees, vendors, and communities. They'll thank you for it and return the favor.
If you ask any founder or CEO from the companies on the Inc. 5000, they will have their own list of must-dos for fast growth, but the above have worked for OtterBox; there are many more that have come into play over the years and many more that we will learn in the years to come.