Growing your company in the early stages can often feel like a rollercoaster ride. The most successful companies have safeguards in place to manage the inevitable ups, downs, twists and turns on the path to maturity. In reality, however, for many companies experiencing hypergrowth it often feels more like you've been catapulted into outer space without a spacesuit, helmet, or oxygen.
Rapid ascension is often unexpected and can send a small operation into scramble mode. That doesn't mean hypergrowth isn't exciting.
After all, the masses are lining up to purchase what you're selling, and by the very definition of the term you're doubling your revenues every two years. Shareholders, partners and employees all stand to benefit tremendously -- if you successfully manage the stress this kind of growth places on your organization.
Put values at your core
You'll be making decisions at a breakneck speed, so how can you be sure your moves stay true to your core values? It starts with leadership. As a partner, you have to be more diligent than ever in aligning your people with your core values and vision. With so many moving parts, new talent coming aboard and unforeseen challenges to tend to, the company's reason for being has to be as clear as day and woven into the culture of company.
To build strong, you have to educate. Share and co-build your strategic plan with your key decision makers and teach people exactly how the business makes money.
Define the width of your playing field early on as you teach people how to make decisions --what lines should never be crossed, and what are the value-based choices that help you arrive at the right outcomes. This can be done in the form of a decision matrix that you give to your managers.
Get the right people in the right seats
Part of being a strong leader during the hypergrowth phase means setting egos aside and putting the right people in managerial and leadership roles. Beware of promoting people to certain roles just because they were with the company in the early days or because they were competent in their previous role. Also, never be afraid to fire people who just aren't good fits.
When hiring, think about the effect each individual will have on your company culture. As the amount of work on your plate stockpiles, it can be easy to hire for need based on the best resumes you see, but a more thoughtful approach designed around your core values will land the best people on your team. The culture you established in your early days played a large part in your rapid growth - don't let it erode.
Build processes, but don't over process
In addition to leadership, focusing on your process and infrastructure to make sure you avoid common hypergrowth traps is key to your staying power. Balancing your process building can be tricky --companies either don't do it or they err on the side of over-processing.
When you're poised to scale rapidly, it's imperative that you stay organized, and while too much process can hinder your flexibility and creativity, you simply cannot go without it at some level. The most effective way to keep your infrastructure solid as you scale is to document everything as you create and do it for the first time. Establish your standards and templates for procedures and policies, and make sure everyone in your company understands the importance of diligent documentation.
The better you are at tracking your day-to-day processes, the more clearly you'll be able to understand the key metrics that propel your business. Your data reports should be focused less on the minutia and more on the three to five key points that can be shared company-wide to track success. Hold your people accountable for distributing this information on a regular basis.
Revenue growth means a lot of contracts will be signed. Don't just leave it to legal and your CFO to handle all negotiations -- make sure your managers, directors and VPs are well-versed in the art of contract negotiation with vendors, suppliers, agencies, and so on. You'd be surprised at how many of the people you've delegated to handle these relationships don't know how to do this properly. Don't get fast and loose with this, and allow hastily drawn up contracts to get signed in the name of speed, leverage or partnership.
As you grow, it can be understandably exciting to win new customers at a fast pace. But don't forget, you still have those early customers who were with you before you were on the cover of every business magazine. They're the ones who bought into your values and your product from the beginning, so go out of your way to involve them in your growth as much as possible by being transparent with your organizational evolution and showing that you value their opinions.