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4 Tips to Stay on the High-Growth Track

Getting off the ground is only the first challenge. As your business grows, your role must change to keep that growth going.

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We run a high-growth company--but we are continuing to learn as we go about what it takes to continually create growth. As a two-time Inc. 500 company, we've managed the business through various stages and, as co-CEOs, we've changed our role a number of times as a result.

At first, we tried to clone ourselves in order to grow. Then we focused on building the right mix of skills and roles that could take us to the next level. Now that our team has topped 30 people working across multiple lines of business, our role is evolving again.

We've built a team that, for the most part, can deliver our value proposition and make the right day-to-day decisions, but given that the organization is spread across multiple priorities, we now need to take on roles that keep us on the high-growth track.

We've learned to focus our energies on four key tasks:

1. Keeper of the Culture

At least once a day we get involved in a decision, whether it be a client issue or a team issue, where we are faced with the choice of staying consistent with our culture or straying outside. When we ask, "What is the right decision given our team's culture?" the answer usually presents itself. It's easy to make the right decision on a people or policy issue when we stick to our cultural norms.

2. Chief of the Brand

As the team grows, our people increasingly represent our brand in the marketplace on a daily basis. We need to ensure that every time a potential client or investor sees Avondale or reads about us, the communication reflects a simple message that reinforces our brand. If our message remains clear and consistent, it's worth more than any other marketing investment we could make.

3. Re-enforcer of Our Vision and Values

We have a vision that the organization is constantly on a path to achieve, and a set of values that define how we behave, operate as a team, and approach the marketplace. More and more, our strategic and operational decisions can be defined by the choices that are consistent with our vision and values. As CEOs, we need to constantly hold the organization accountable to delivering these and provide a stable voice when questions arise.

4. Communicator of Our Goals

Not surprisingly, as the team grows we need to spend more of our time and efforts communicating what we are trying to achieve as an organization. The CEO can facilitate the right decisions by constantly reorienting the team back to examples of work that are maximizing the company's short and long-term goals.

As we enter this next stage as a company, focusing our time and energies on these four priorities enables us to be more effective as CEOs. What do you focus on to manage growth? Let us know in the comments or send us a note at karlandbill@avondalestrategicpartners.com.

Last updated: Oct 30, 2012

KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree.
@karlstark




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