Robert Glazer is the founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, a digital strategy firm focused on profitable online customer acquisition for high-growth consumer businesses--and a member of EO Boston.
It's been an incredible honor to make the Inc. 5000 list not just once, but two years in a row. Acceleration Partners had a four-digit growth rate in 2014, something that may seem like luck. And while we have certainly benefited from our share of good luck and timing, we spend a lot of effort on the things that we can control to put us in the right position for these opportunities.
It's been my experience that you can substantially increase your chances of success in a fast growing business with discipline and planning. That's what we've worked to do over the past several years by deciding where we want our business to go, creating a plan that will get us there and executing that plan. In this way, we've been able to plan for success instead of reacting to it. Here are my keys to sustainable growth:
Having a Vision
We've been conscious of establishing a clear long-term vision. With an eye on the long-term plan and our "Why" as an organization, our next step was to make sure that we hired people we thought could help execute that plan. That meant making sure our vision and purpose as a company was strong and visible enough to attract and keep talented people. We have openly communicated our vision and focused on finding people who are invested in the long run--people who want careers and purpose, and not just a job.
Culture, Hiring and Core Values
Figuring out what, exactly, our company stood for in terms of values and principals and establishing how we would make decisions from the get-go prepared us for rapid growth. Instead of figuring out how we would deal with things as they came up, we already had procedures in place for making quick decisions.
After establishing our company's vision and core values, we made it a priority to operationalize those values. Everyone at Acceleration Partners knows what our core values are, and they are talked about and acted upon regularly. Most importantly, we make it a point to hire, promote and fire based on those values.
Alignment and Focus
It's not uncommon to have people at companies doing great work that's just unaligned or out of sync with overall values. In addition to making sure that our people are aligned to our values, we use a management system called EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to ensure that we translate our long-term vision into clear, actionable steps in the medium and short term.
Each year, we update our three-year plan and set priorities for the year. We then have quarterly "offsites" to set and lock quarterly priorities, to be met by team members' individual goals. A weekly meeting keeps everyone accountable to these goals and focused on what we said we needed to get done. A system that understands how each person fits into overall business operations extends throughout the entire company.
Letting Go and Playing to Strengths
One of the hardest, but most vital, parts of sustaining fast-paced growth is learning when--and how--to let go of certain responsibilities. This often starts with the founder getting out of the day-to-day and embracing the visionary role, which is something that I have done successfully in the past two years with the help of a great leadership team and general manager.
As Acceleration Partners grew, we've had to train people to fulfill existing roles so that others can focus on learning the new skills necessary for continued growth. Simply put, we've mastered the art of job adaptation; the understanding that you can't be great at something if you don't enjoy it.
By making sure that all of our employees are aware of the direction we're headed, and that they're committed to helping the company get there, we hope that Acceleration Partners has carefully laid a foundation for continued growth over the coming years.