Connect with us

Business Entrepreneur

How to build and lead a high-growth company

(Entrepreneur News) To be successful in a high-growth company, and to sustain that success, one leader tells us first hand how they nailed it.

Published

on

high growth success

high growth success

Building and leading a high-growth company

Mike Broderick, CEO of audience response systems company Turning Technologies began developing applications for the first radio frequency wireless group response hardware soon after its introduction as a partner and president of one of the earliest group response software companies.

Throughout his 20 years in the industry, Mike has been one of the leading innovators in the group response industry working and leading efforts in sales, marketing, research and development, as well as product delivery and fulfillment. He has led Turning through remarkable growth and to their current position of dominance in their industry and markets.

bar
Broderick notes that “Natural leaders may gravitate toward entrepreneurship, savoring the opportunity to build their own company and control their own destiny. For those with a good product or service to sell and sound leadership abilities, an entrepreneurial venture might be the perfect career path. But it’s a challenging mission, a path that takes extraordinary commitment and clear vision.”

They started Turning Technologies with a simple idea and built it from the ground up to become the world’s largest audience response technology firm. They were able to grow and prosper during an historically severe economic downturn, and their story boils down to two chapters: building and growth.

In his own words below is a spot-on guide to executing both chapters at your own company:

Building a successful company

To get a new company off the ground, the first thing a would-be entrepreneur needs is a product or service concept that will have broad marketplace appeal. The Hollywood depiction of entrepreneurship usually involves an epiphany from an inventor–a company founder who thinks of a brand-new, billion-dollar concept that changes the world. But in real life, most successful entrepreneurs simply analyze the market and identify an opportunity to do something better or streamline an existing process.

That’s how we got our start at Turning Technologies: We noticed that people who gave PowerPoint presentations had a difficult time engaging audiences and collecting real-time data. So we invented our flagship product, TurningPoint, a software that integrates with PowerPoint and allows presenters to embed questions in their presentations. Audiences can answer using a keypad or smartphone. The product took off because it solved an existing problem, giving presenters a way to instantly gather relevant data and engage their audiences.

Our next step was to tell our story effectively.

You could have the greatest product in the world, but if your target customers don’t immediately understand how it will improve their lives, it will be a tough sell. You need to create a narrative about your product or service that customers will understand and relate to their situation.

We’ve found that the tried-and-true strategy of identifying customer pain points and then of discussing how our product would resolve these problems works best. We had to show how our product would enable us to engage audiences and also collect real-time data. We went directly to the people who are engaged in making presentations every day– corporate trainers, educators, sales professionals, trade association speakers, and the like–and showed them a way to make their presentations more interactive, informative, and fun. That made selling our product relatively simple.

Another critical success factor in any company’s building phase is commitment. It sounds like common sense, but it’s important for aspiring entrepreneurs to know up front that launching and growing a successful company takes an incredible amount of dedication. You’ll be unlikely to make it if you go into the task thinking that you’ll give it a few months and see what happens.

Even for companies that are later heralded as “overnight successes,” it generally takes a few years to turn a profit. When I was starting my company, I made the commitment to work long hours for no pay for the first few years. I went all in–there was no “Plan B.” Of course, this took a lot of planning and saving on the front-end to make my total commitment strategy possible. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, make sure you’ve done the up-front preparations, and ensure that you have the level of commitment that building a successful company takes.

Leading for growth

Once you’ve successfully launched your company, you’ll need a long-term growth strategy. Every enterprise is different, but there are basic principles you can follow to improve your company’s chances of evolving and expanding over the long haul. One of the most valuable strategies to make that happen is a long-term commitment to learning about your industry.

No matter what business you’re in, your market and the needs of your customers will change over time. If you commit to spending an hour a day reading about your industry, taking a look at online research and evaluating business trends and competitors, you’ll be better positioned to spot new opportunities and challenges as they arise. If your business involves technology, keep up with technical advances and be on the lookout for new products that may affect your customer base.

Another critical growth factor for just about any company is being responsive to customer needs. Take every opportunity to listen to your customers. Find out how your product or service is working for them, what features they like the best and which aspects they think could use some improvement. Tradeshows offer a great opportunity to connect with customers, as do online surveys and social media interactions.

Employees are another excellent conduit for customer information. The employees who are on the front lines will know best what customers are experiencing, the challenges they face, the new business requirements that are emerging in their industries and competitive products that are entering the marketplace.

In addition to being an excellent repository of customer information, your employees can also be a primary growth driver for your business in their own right. A dedicated, motivated staff will result in happier customers, and satisfied customers help your company grow. For these reasons, building a positive, productive workplace culture is critically important.

One way to position your company for rapid growth is to give your employees incentives to make it happen. Link rewards to results and give employees a sense of ownership in the company (through incentives like profit sharing programs, for example) to ensure that they’ll be focused on making sales, expanding relationships with existing customers and ensuring client satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

Every business is different, and each marketplace has its own unique considerations, but there are basic principles all entrepreneurs can apply when launching and growing a new company. When contemplating a startup, the first step is to identify a need for a new product or service, and then find a way to tell customers your story in a compelling way. Ensure that you’re adequately prepared financially and personally for the commitment launching a new company requires.

Once you have your enterprise off the ground, remember that growing a company requires constant innovation. Commit to ongoing learning, reading up on new developments in your industry to identify opportunities and emerging challenges. Listen to your customers to find out what their needs are and how you can help them succeed. And give your employees a stake in your company’s success so that they’ll treat it like their own and help your business growth and thrive. By following these steps, you can successfully launch a new business – and keep it growing long into the future.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Paveya

    April 3, 2014 at 3:22 am

    Thanks AG Staff! I agree with you above all tips are Amazing! I think that additional Tips are give bellow.
    1.Qualify leads: We’ve hired a lead-generation company. We define for them our target market and message, the proposal we’ll make and our sales process. They provide very well-qualified leads, and we take it from there. In our industry
    2.Embrace social: LinkedIn has become a very effective tool for us. Our theory now is: with all the social media at our fingertips, we should never have to make cold calls. There’s always some way to connect with a person you want to talk to and get an introduction, so when you make the call, it won’t be cold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Entrepreneur

How to effectively share negative thoughts with your business partner

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You and your business partner(s) are in a close relationship, and just like a marriage, negative emotions may play a role in the relationship.

Published

on

share feedback

You and your business partner are in a relationship. Your business was born when you shared a common vision of the future and became giddy from the prospect of all you could do together that you couldn’t do alone. Now, you spend much of the day doing things together in collaboration. The stakes are high; there are obstacles to overcome, decisions to make together, deadlines to meet, and all the stresses of running a business.

It’s no wonder a business partnership can often be just as complicated and emotional as a romantic relationship. If you are struggling with your business partner, you might find helpful advice in resources originally targeted towards troubled couples.

Relationship expert Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has explored how to share “toxic thoughts” with your partner. In a linked article, Bernstein describes toxic thoughts as distortions of the truth that cause us to overemphasize the negative attributes of our partner.

Some examples of toxic thoughts include blaming your partner for larger problems that aren’t really their fault, inaccurately assuming your partners intentions, or resenting your partner for not intuiting your needs, even if you haven’t expressed them. The defining characteristic of these toxic thoughts is that, although they may be based in the truth, they are generally exaggerations of reality, reflecting our own stresses and insecurities.

Just as much as in a love relationship, these toxic thoughts could easily strain a business partnership. If you find yourself having toxic thoughts about your business partner, you will need to decide whether to hold your tongue, or have a potentially difficult conversation. Even when we remain quiet about our frustrations, they are easily felt in the awkward atmosphere of interpersonal tension and passive aggressive slights that results.

Dr. Bernstein points out that being honest about your toxic thoughts with your partner can help increase understanding and intimacy. It also gives your partner a chance to share their toxic thoughts with you, so you’d better be ready to take what you dish out. It might be hard to talk about our frustrations with each other so candidly, but it might also be the most straightforward way to resolve them.

Then again, Bernstein points out, some people prefer to work through their toxic thoughts alone. By his own definition, toxic thoughts are unfair exaggerations of and assumptions about our partner’s behavior. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, or blaming your partner for imagined catastrophes, perhaps you’d better take a few minutes to calm down and consider whether or not it’s worth picking a fight about. Then again, if you’re self-aware enough to realize that you are exaggerating the truth, you can probably also tease out the real roots of any tension you’ve been experiencing with your business partner.

If you are going to get personal, shoulder your own emotional baggage and try to approach your partner with equal parts honesty and diplomacy. Avoid insults, stay optimistic, and focus on solutions. State your own feelings and ask questions, rather than airing your assumptions about their intentions or behaviors. Keep your toxic thoughts to yourself, and work towards adjusting the behaviors that are making you feel negatively towards each other. Your business might depend on it.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

Zen, please: Demand for mental health services surges during pandemic

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for many on a mental front. How has COVID-19 changed the mental health landscape?

Published

on

Man leaning against tree, affected by mental health.

As the pandemic stretches on, it continues to affect everything from jobs to plastic bags, but one major shift has come with mental health. According to the National Council for Mental Health, while demand for mental health services is up 52%, the capacity of mental health organizations have actually diminished. So…what does this mean?

Mental health startups get a boost

From tele-health to mindfulness apps, venture capital investments for mental health startups have already surpassed what was earned in 2019. And it makes sense; as more people are isolated for long stretches of time, there has become a greater demand for digital mental wellness services.

With COVID-19 predicted to spike again in the coming months, combined with shorter spans of daylight and less welcoming weather, the desire for these sorts of businesses isn’t likely to fade. If you have an idea for a neat app or website to help with mental well-being in some way, now is prime time to release it.

Companies increase mental health options

As the pandemic rages on, many companies have started to partner with mental health solutions for their employees. For instance, Starbucks has started offering free therapy sessions to employees through the mental wellness provider Lyra, and Zoom began to offer mental health seminars.

Of course, while smaller companies might not have the means to provide specific therapy, many companies have gotten creative with how they’re looking out for employees’ mental and emotional well-being. From providing virtual meditation sessions, to increasing self-managed leave, to connecting employees through book clubs or happy hours, there are a variety of ways that any company can help employees manage their psyche during these difficult times.

Resources are more accessible

Although therapy and similar apps do cost money (many apps include a monthly fee for the services provided), there are plenty of low cost alternatives available for those having a hard time. For example, many sites are offering free trials to services. There are also plenty of free or low-cost apps available to help you do anything from track your moods to manage your breathing. Or check out YouTube for videos to help with yoga or meditation.

While these resources are not a replacement for medication or talk therapy, they can help mediate some of the increased strain on our mental state that many of us are feeling right now.

In case of an emergency, there is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available by phone call or chat 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Continue Reading

Business Entrepreneur

The success of your business could be tied to your succession plan

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You can’t spell ‘successor’ without success. In the age of COVID-19, are the two mutually exclusive to your ventures?

Published

on

Women at desk with laptop discussion succession.

“Heir” is a weighty term. A fun pun, to be sure, through the beauty of English homophones. But seriously, unless you’re already 10% and up rich, talk of heirs and succession does connote a certain heaviness you may not be used to.

For those choosing successors, it’s the heaviness of accepting mortality. For the potential promotees, it’s the heaviness of accepting a multitude of responsibilities. Or buying ear poison. Either way.

We expect to deal with familial succession. As eldest (assuming he doesn’t outlive me), I’m in charge of flinging Dad’s ashes into a nicer section of the ocean and distributing all of his Cosby sweaters amongst the sibs, and I take the role very seriously.

As a serial-small-business employee though, I’ve only just started wondering what would happen if my boss died. Of all the ‘lose your job’ scenarios I’ve had waking nightmares about, that one in particular only cropped up for me a year ago. And now, with the coronavirus taking up our attention, more business owners than usual might be wondering the same thing from the other side of the desk.

What’s going to happen to my employees if I’m too sick to work? Have I set things up so that this company can survive past me? Does at least one other person know the combination to the safes?

If your business is big enough to have employees and advisors on deck, these are questions you need to have answered… Preferably in written, notarized form to ensure smooth succession.

So where should you start? Probably with a good talk.

If you have a next-in-command standing ready, but don’t have a plan yet, let them know that if the inevitable happens sooner rather than later, that you’d like them to step in. A frank conversation about their future with your brand, and actually asking them if they feel up to taking the reins is a great place to start. Otherwise, consider your network— who you might sell the business to, and who might know someone who knows someone.

P.S. If your VP says they’d rather run off and sail the world if you got hit by an asteroid next week, please don’t hold it against them.

We all know that ghosts stick around because they’ve got unfinished business, right? Don’t let your literal business be the shade that haunts your team! Take a deep breath and get the ball rolling on THIS side of the dirt… Ouija boards can only do so much.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!