Measure your growth and progress in years, not months, because you have to be in it for the long haul.
I've been leading and running my email marketing company, VerticalResponse, for the last 12 years, and even though I recently sold it, you'll still find me in the trenches ensuring we stay on target for exceeding both our customers' and our shareholders' expectations. I got to this place by making sure from the get-go that I measured our growth and progress in years, not months, because I knew we were in it for the long haul.
If you've just started your biz and already plotting out your exit strategy, then stop reading now. But if you're focused on growing for years to come, read on for some tips to keep your eyes on the prize.
Get a Firm Grasp on Your Finances
For our first few years in business, we did a lot of things by the seat of our pants and that was okay in that crazy start-up time. However, I soon realized that if we really wanted to grow and continue to invest money back into the company, we needed to establish some strong financial controls. With that came the hiring of our chief operating officer, Dave. Dave brought a greater focus on financials, quickly establishing accountability around key performance indicators throughout the organization, and tighter controls on money coming in and going out of the company.
If you want to be an established company, you've gotta act like one by getting a grip on these things early on. It helps to have someone like Dave on board to help you get there.
Focus on the Future
Even though I've always believed in leading from the weeds, by hiring talented, smart and capable people throughout the company, it enabled me to concentrate on future. I've been the face and voice of VerticalResponse for over a decade because I know people take comfort in knowing the head of the company they're doing business (or might be doing business) with. Whether it's speaking at small business conferences, blogging on our VR Marketing Blogor building relationships with potential new partners, I'm out there making sure we are positioned for next week, next month and next year.
Do More Than One Thing Well
We started out as an email marketing company in 2001. Back then, there weren't many companies offering what we had to small businesses at an affordable price. But that quickly changed and we've had to change along with that, if not ahead of the curve. That's why over the years we acquired a social media marketing company and also added direct mail postcards, online surveys and event marketing to our product portfolio. We also were one of the first companies on the Salesforce AppExchange, which created a long-lasting, incredibly successful partnership.
Spreading your revenue sources over more products and customers will help reduce risk because you're not putting all your eggs in one basket. You never want to rely too heavily on any one thing--or customer--for your continued growth and success.
Use these tips to keep your business growing well into the future, and share any other long-term company growth strategies that you believe in!
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick