Whether you’re a solopreneur or run a team of 10, it’s dangerously easy to get caught in the minutia of your company’s immediate needs and neglect the things on your to-do list that will actually move the needle.
You likely launched your company by pounding espresso, working long hours and bootstrapping. But while this method may have granted you a seat at the big kids’ table (and perhaps a round of funding), grit and a rough outline does not an empire make. Think your company will grow without your slowing down long enough to lay a framework? Think again.
The Tory Burch Foundation Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program served as my catalyst to finally tackle the most critical elements of a high-growth brand: creating a solid company culture and a comprehensive, meticulously calculated plan for long-term success. Here’s how to break down the key elements and tackle them in turn:
1. Set a mission and vision -- and know the difference. While they may seem similar on the surface, these two sets of code outline the very foundation of your brand in different ways. A vision statement is an aspirational overarching force that drives your company forward, while a mission statement delves into the specifics of what you do and why.
Their importance may not seem crucial in the short run, but the collective ethos that forms as a result of your vision and mission statements can become the primary driver for growth for you and your employees. Start the process of creating your company mission and vision by asking, Why does my company exist and where do I want it to be in 10 years?
2. Develop a comprehensive growth plan. Given that about 50 percent of all new businesses survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more, a growth plan is crucial for a sustainable business.
If the company's annual revenue isn’t at least matching or exceeding the rate of inflation, then it is moving backward and allowing competitors to win the race. A growth plan helps you avoid being left behind and be sure that your company continues to pull ahead of the rest. At the most basic level, it helps you keep your business in the game. Harness its full capabilities and take the right approach to writing the plan, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
If you think the changing nature of the marketplace renders a growth plan irrelevant, remember: a moving target is better than having no target at all. Spending copious amounts of your precious time on a plan that’s likely going to need adaptations every six months may sound daunting. But if you fail to set milestones for growth, you’re likely to miss the forest for the trees when it comes to big business decisions.
Related: 5 Tips for Handling Rapid Expansion
3. Consider a chief growth officer for your next big hire. Adding a C-level executive may not be feasible for startups at the outset, but if possible, a chief growth officer is well worth the investment. With growth as their sole objective, these officers act as a numbers-savvy spirit guide, leading you out of the minutia and along the path to success. There’s a reason why the chief growth officer title is beginning to pop up everywhere: CEOs recognize that having someone solely dedicated to growing the company helps ensure that this goal will be met.
Even historically traditional brands are embracing the need for a chief growth officer. The Hershey Company brought in a chief growth officer, Michele Buck, in 2005 and has enjoyed annual sales increases ever since. Buck is planning for Hershey to increase its revenue 50 percent, to 10 billion by 2017.
With a well-defined culture, a solid growth plan and a stellar chief growth officer presiding over strategy, CEOs have all the necessary tools to scale more quickly and efficiently. Prioritizing working on your business is paramount when you’re running a lean company. So take a step back from the day-to-day and focus on these critical elements to enable your company to grow measurably and effectively.