Wondering how to achieve fast growth for your business – the right way?
Insperity spoke with three leaders of companies who were recognized on the Inc. 5000 2023 list of America’s fastest-growing companies:
- Matt Lafata, president and CEO of HRchitect
- Tracy Call, founder and CEO of Media Bridge Advertising
- Amy Deaton, COO of EvidenceCare
In this blog, we have their top insights for early-stage business leaders looking for aggressive expansion.
Go slow to go fast – and learn how to say no
During intense growth, it’s common for business leaders to get in the weeds on day-to-day tasks or make quick, in-the-moment decisions to help propel their company forward. It’s easy to be reactive and say yes to everything when you’re trying to knock out fires, execute quickly and survive to make payroll.
But you can’t lose sight of the big picture and your overall goals or sacrifice long-term efficiency and profitability in favor of short-term rewards. You must balance growth with smart, deliberate decision-making.
It’s important to take a step back to consider:
- Where you want the company to go in the next three to five years
- Whether your business is going in the right direction to achieve those targets
- Which opportunities exist to avoid complacency and find ways to deliver value to customers that could make growth more viable
- What guidance the peers in your network can share
- How your people factor into your growth
Even when you’re moving fast, it’s important to understand when to say no to things that won’t serve your company well over the long term.
Hire slow, fire fast
Your people are the foundation of your growth. Your company simply can’t exist, much less function well, without them.
That’s why it’s important to hire the right people who offer the right capabilities, so that your business can respond to clients’ needs and keep up with the marketplace. Don’t rush hiring decisions; take your time to find the right candidate.
However, hiring the right people involves more than checking off boxes on a skill-set list. Equally important is hiring for cultural fit. This means that your employees:
- Are aligned with your values
- Have the desire to grow with your company, which requires some grit
- Understand where the business is headed and the goals that everyone is working toward
If someone turns out to be the wrong fit, don’t hold on to them too long. You can actually lose good people to a toxic workplace that results from keeping employees who aren’t a good fit. The decision to let go of an employee can be hard, but it shouldn’t be delayed when it’s the right decision to make.
Adhere to your mission, vision, values and culture
Your company’s core values aren’t just words on a wall. They’re shared behaviors that are lived out each day in your organization. During times of transition, including fast growth, values serve as a guidepost and unifier across your team.
Values also help to differentiate your company. After all, there are reasons people want to work for or do business with some companies more than others. Oftentimes, companies are fast growing because people want to be associated with them. What sets your company apart?
You’ll want to establish a strong, positive workplace culture that encourages growth – and enable that culture to endure despite rapid growth. How can you do this?
- Focus on transparency.
- Overcommunicate. Especially in the era of remote work and distributed workforces, there really isn’t such a thing as too much interaction. Have a system of communication to regularly reach employees, from weekly meetings to virtual townhalls. Everyone should feel included and as though they have a voice.
- Recognize employees who don’t just perform well, but who also demonstrate company values in practice and embody the culture.
- Motivate employees according to what’s important to them individually – one size doesn’t fit all.
- Continue growing and developing employees to make sure they stay on their desired career trajectory.
- Engage employees in small ways that may not seem like a lot at first. You could offer a virtual happy hour or trivia night, for example, or encourage people to form social groups based on their personal interests. Over time, these efforts add up and employees participate in at least a few things.
Ultimately, this benefits employee engagement and retention. When scaling up, the cost and time associated with constantly hiring new people can hinder business growth and hurt profitability and efficiency.
If you align your team around your company values and create an enduring positive culture, they’ll stay put and be better equipped to serve clients well and prevent those dips in quality and customer satisfaction that can happen as fast growth occurs. When your people are happy and taken care of, everything else falls into place.
If it doesn’t help you earn or learn, outsource
It’s always a good idea to stick to your core business and outsource the responsibilities that aren’t in your wheelhouse to experts. Why try to reinvent the wheel or waste time on activities that don’t directly generate revenue, grow the business or inspire enthusiasm and innovation in you?
Find like-minded partners who you can trust to delegate essential tasks, seek guidance and collaborate.
The field of human resources (HR) is one of the best examples of this.
As businesses face rapid expansion, it’s common for them to fill HR roles last. Or, worse, companies tend to ask individuals who have other primary (and very specific) skill sets – for example, the head of finance – to oversee HR on the side.
What’s wrong with this scenario?
- HR demands can distract these individuals from their core job responsibilities and hinder business growth.
- HR isn’t their area of expertise. There are costly errors that can be made and critical opportunities that can be missed when a nonexpert manages this organizational function.
- When HR is reactive to the company’s growth situation, rather than proactive, it can allow room for HR-related compliance issues to happen.
When a business grows, it’s more critical than ever that HR responsibilities and expertise remain at the forefront to:
- Maintain compliance
- Free employees from working on tedious, administrative HR tasks so they can focus on the activities they excel at and better support the business
- Serve as a “head of people,” giving employees a contact and resource for all matters related to their employment
A professional employer organization (PEO) can be a great partner for companies in need of HR guidance and a scalable HR infrastructure.
Don’t be a lonely island
No one knows everything. Don’t try to grow your business all alone or operate in a vacuum – this approach rarely works.
What should you do instead?
- Build relationships and grow your professional network.
- Seek advice from peers.
- Find professional or industry groups comprising like-minded people occupying similar roles or places in life. This can give you the space to discuss business challenges, work through fears, bounce around ideas and validate dreams and goals.
- Solicit feedback from customers on how your business can evolve. View them as partners, not only as clients.
Undoubtedly, someone in business has tried a similar growth idea as the one you’re contemplating, and it either worked or it didn’t – for a compelling reason. Use the knowledge that’s available out there.
Otherwise, you could miss out on the wisdom, experience and great ideas of others, and your business may not grow as efficiently.
Summing it all up
According to business leaders whose companies were recently included on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list, there are some tips that early-stage companies should consider to accomplish fast growth:
- Slow down and take time to carefully consider your next moves, in light of overall goals.
- Don’t rush your hiring decisions – take the time to get them right.
- Ensure all employees are aligned with your company’s mission, vision, values and culture.
- Outsource tasks that aren’t core to your business to trustworthy partners and collaborators.
- Talk to other people for advice and ideas.
Want to learn even more about how to grow your business? Download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to managing organizational growth.