Over 1,500 business owners and key employees are gathering this week in Phoenix, AZ to share best practices and learn from each other and nationally recognized experts. What do these companies have in common? They all made the prestigious Inc. 500/5000 list.
Inc. annually recognizes the fastest growing 5,000 privately held companies in the United States. Like most companies, these firms have had to overcome adversity to survive and thrive. However, many have had to manage through the additional challenges that come with rapid growth (I realize that many of you would like to have these particular challenges!).
What are some lessons we can learn from these companies?
(1) Know what you are – and what you are not. Winning companies repeatedly caution that you cannot be everything to everybody. Building one-off capabilities may help you gain one additional client, but at the cost of building out your primary business model. Do that too many times and you have likely sacrificed what you are best at for small incremental sales.
(2) Balance short term and long term needs. The business owners stress that it is not choosing short or long-term – rather it is doing both. You have to have a plan for where the company is going whether that is geographic, product portfolio, service model, etc. Yet, you also have to know how you are going to make payroll this Friday. If you get too myopic on either front you will likely have significant issues.
(3) Surround yourself with good people with complementary skills. Winners emphasize surrounding yourself with people with complementary skills to strengthen the overall team. If you are a whiz at finance you probably don’t need the rest of your team to be. Most of the time you would be better served with a strong IT, HR, or production person. One thing where agreement is a must – passion towards what you are doing.
(4) Network, network, and then network some more. Inc. 5000 winners are masters at networking. The more they can learn about other winners’ business models the better they can use that information to successfully position their own company. There are lots of conversations around joint marketing, product distribution, and shared development.
(5) Take time to recharge. You don’t end up as one of the fast growing companies in the United States by working part time. Nights, weekends, and holidays are part of the drill. Yet these business owners talk about the need to get away, to focus on themselves and their development. They recognize that focusing on their development is an investment not an expense to the company.
These insights can apply to companies whether they are one of the fastest growing or not. There are a lot more stories that you can learn from. You can read more about the winners at http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2014. Who knows, maybe your company will be on this list in the future.
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