Sales pressure, organizational chaos, lack of time. Unfortunately, this is everyday life for many scale-ups. It’s also very relaxed. Check your business for the following 5 aspects and you will know whether your company is ready to grow successfully.
Ariane Lindemann in an expert discussion with Markus Geissinger, managing director of the SMB Academy from the CyberForum network.
Markus, is there such a thing as a growth formula?
In any case. The problems are almost identical for most startups when it comes to growth. It’s not that companies don’t want to or can’t grow, it’s that they simply can’t get started in everyday life. There is often a lack of consistency. We see a lot of chaos in this phase.
Scaling in a relaxed manner – is that even possible?
Yes absolutely. But it only works if you consistently stick to a few important points. Then you can take your company to the next level in a relatively relaxed manner.
You have advised well over 100 companies in the growth phase. Among other things, you are active as a mentor in the CyberForum. What patterns have you recognized?
It was like déjà vu every time – in almost all companies there are the same aspects that are not seen but are extremely important. I have them Growing 5 called. 5 elementary factors that you should definitely apply permanently in order to grow continuously and stably. New customers are a good start. But they do not yet mean sustainable growth. Hiring more people is an important step. But not enough for scaling. Even the best sales professional can do little if crucial key factors are ignored.
The Growing 5 Your book is also called – a guide for scale-ups…
After countless projects, telling the same thing over and over again got boring at some point. So I decided to write a book. Everything that is important is there now. It is an ideal introduction to the topic.
“It’s not that companies don’t want to or can’t grow, it’s that they simply can’t get started in everyday life. There is often a lack of consistency.”
Leave it to us Growing 5 go through it. Where do we start?
No matter whether you are a startup, a company with 15, 50 or 100 employees – there are two factors that – regardless of the industry – are the key to getting started with growth. I call them “hardening” and “repeating.”
You have to explain this to us in more detail…
I have seen many companies strive for growth but have not done their homework. This means: your strategy is not precise, the market testing is not optimal, the target customers are only defined imprecisely or not at all. In addition, in many cases only 50 percent of sales are extracted from the actual system. Hardening means meeting entrepreneurs where they are and making the current system as stable as possible. Growth is very expensive and very time consuming. And only with clean production control and when I have my capital resources under control – i.e. my company is running stably in its current state – only then can I achieve healthy growth. Otherwise, I’ll constantly have crisis management and growth at the same time. This can’t work. Even if many people believe that.
Sounds like a lot of work…
Hardening sounds hard – but it’s not. Once companies understand how much this stability keeps them grounded, it is relatively easy for them to cleanly work through these handful of parameters. And when the first experiences of success are there, everyone, including the customers, is happy that things are going a lot better. The second point, the topic, is more difficult Repeat.
“It’s better to direct creativity towards what your company really needs instead of blindly innovating: growth doesn’t always need new ideas.”
What is meant by “repeat”?
Entrepreneurs often have countless new ideas. Which is essential for growth. The problem is that this sparkling spirit is the opposite of a focused strategy. Because you don’t grow with a thousand ideas, but rather with a single, consistently implemented idea. And that is exactly the next step in growth: pursuing a great strategy and creating a reproducible process. This means repeating what works. Permanently automate and implement everything that is lucrative.
Why is this so difficult?
Because it bores many entrepreneurs. They want to move forward quickly and realize their ideas. But success lies precisely in repeating what brings good results. As long as it contributes to the positive overall result. It’s better to focus creativity on what your company really needs rather than blindly innovating. Growth doesn’t always need new ideas.
What do you recommend about team expansion?
Expand is the third important point in the growth process. It takes a lot of care to attract new people and new skills. You should be very meticulous in your selection and focus on the skills, mindset, values and motivation of the key player team. Because things can get stormy on the expansion course and the better the skills are, the easier the team can withstand it, adapt to new circumstances and achieve maximum output. Important: Expand your own skills, employee skills and bring new talent on board – because good people want to make a difference and are interested in growth. Organizing a company with 25 employees does not mean that the managers and bosses have sufficient skills to orchestrate 50 or 100 employees. Completely new laws apply. You have to take this into account and, under certain circumstances, cut off old braids that were still working.
Ambitious entrepreneurs can look forward to the fourth growth accelerator… because now comes the “risk”!
Yes, because here you can try things out and bring new ideas to life. take risk is an important step in the growth process. But what is meant here is not high-risk maneuvers, but rather considered risk-taking with small, demarcated test setups close to the core business. This could be a new offer for customers or a shift to online marketing or something similar. It’s about taking consciously calculated, isolated risks in order to improve ongoing performance. Anyone who acts too recklessly will neglect their ongoing business, which is quite counterproductive.
What is your 5th and final tip for the scale-up phase?
Networking. It’s no secret that companies with good scaling performance network more than others. Contacts are extremely important. Because new methods, techniques, employees, strategic opportunities, resources, etc. always come from outside. Growth from within is very limited without looking outside at the market and at your customer group.
“There are things you can copy and there are things you have to
“You get it.”
Are these Growing 5 a guarantee of success?
Absolutely. Because they bring clarity and orientation that is missing in many cases. This is in the nature of things, because for most people the topic is completely new. At the same time, it is important for every company to recognize the principles that work for them and to understand what they actually do. The company should strictly work through the Growing 5, but also establish the transfer to its own visions, its own corporate culture, its mindset and its own context – and learn to make the right decisions itself. There are things you can copy and there are things you have to understand.
Are you currently in the scale-up phase? Or just before? Then take a look at our academy offer. We would be happy to support you and your company in a successful growth process.