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What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

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That’s a question that most of us find intriguing because we all want to know the secret of success. Many business owners I know, whom others might consider successful, are themselves a little nervous as they don’t really understand why they got to where they are now. Their problem, obviously, is that if they don't understand why they got there in the first place; they won’t know what to do if things go wrong.

You might have noticed that more recently I have been focusing on ambitious business owners that are seeking to rapidly grow their business. These High Growth businesses provide us with some valuable insights about how to be successful. A recent survey of High Growth businesses in the USA by Hinge Marketing concluded that there were 4 things that high growth businesses do differently from others, which contributed to their growth.

1. They focus on delivering client’s desired outcomes. They were not touting the firm’s qualifications or their products or service strengths but rather what the results were of providing their product or services and what it meant to the client. This idea of focusing on outcomes makes them much more likely to deliver as they have their eyes on the prize.

2. They are truly customer focused; their job is to make the client’s life easier. You won’t hear complaints about customer attitude or how clients are making their life difficult. They see a problem with a customer as an opportunity for them to improve. Some businesses are actually disappointed if they don’t get negative feedback from their clients as it doesn't give them the opportunity to further improve their business.

3. They are flexible. They recognise how much, both prospects and clients, value flexibility and very many high growth businesses feature flexibility in their marketing and sales material.

4. They focus on their reputation. They work very hard at promoting and protecting their reputation and their brand.

There is a 5th thing that High Growth businesses do, or rather and interestingly what they don’t do and that is spend excessive amounts on marketing. Surprisingly, High Growth businesses spend slightly less than the average business on marketing. You'd intuitively expect that High Growth businesses (in this case growing @ 20% plus pa over 2 years) would be spending disproportionately more. However the survey indicated that these " High Growth " businesses spent only 4.9% of their revenues on marketing as opposed to 5.1% for the average business.

This leads to the obvious question; how do they do that? Whilst I have no empirical evidence I can anecdotally, at least, support this finding. If I look at those High Growth businesses I've worked with virtually all of them spent much less on marketing than you’d expect. Having looked into this further it seems to me that many High Growth businesses have accidentally locked on to something which fits the market demands better than the competition and the clarity of their proposition has got prospects pounding at their door. 

I can think of two obvious examples; one a construction business that is currently experiencing an 80%pa growth over this year and forecasting similar next with no marketing spend at all. In fact they are receiving so many enquiries that they are hard pressed to respond at all.  Looking at it for the first time you might even think that their sales process was broken. Yet despite all of that their growth is and continues to be phenomenal. Why, "word of mouth". They will move heaven and earth to get things right first time. This attitude marks them out from their competition and keeps both existing and new customers approaching them for proposals.

The second is a services business which has landed several strategic contracts with some very high profile companies in the UK, with no formal sales function and more startlingly having no one with any formal sales training. Its success once again appears purely based on what it can deliver and “word of mouth” from a couple of existing clients.

What I find interesting is that the results of this report suggest that a business’s success has much more to do with how well they had thought through why and how they deliver their product or service and their value proposition and much less to do with the size of their wallet.

For a full download of the Hinge Marketing report click here.

Exigent Consulting provides specialist services to the Small and Medium Business including Managing High GrowthBusiness Turnaround, and Mentoring. We help business owners improve the profit performance of their business. 

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