We work with CEOs every day, developing strategy and helping leaders position their businesses to meet their growth goals. From small, young start-ups, to well-established, huge enterprise businesses, CEOs have a tough role – and leading business forward amidst high growth is a challenge we see again and again.
Today’s companies are scaling faster than ever before – even in the middle of increased competition, market pressures, and the stress of solving problems faster and faster. It’s no surprise that the average lifecycle of organizations is getting shorter and shorter.
The paradox of growth is a problem that plagues many of our clients. Companies start experiencing growth and greater success in the market, but with this initial high-growth comes complexity. And eventually, this complexity stunts growth. CEOs come to us feeling disconnected from a clear purpose with a slow, fuzzy vision of how to proceed.
Changing Mindsets: A Founders’ Mentality
In high-growth periods, it’s a challenge to continue to establish credibility, build trust, live the brand’s values, rally employees, satisfy customers, and act as the head decision maker and strategic lead.
We’ve found adopting a founders’ mentality – thinking, acting, and leading like you founded the company – can ensure you grow business sustainably and successfully. Here’s what leading like a founder looks like:
1. See Beyond Today
Founders of companies are excited by the future, and driven by it. They aren’t just thinking about today, but years down the road. And for any CEO today, long-term thinking is critical to successful growth. Your vision for the future should define and guide how you grow today, tomorrow, and for years down the line. Re-evaluate and ask yourself where you see the company in one year, 3 years, 5 years, even 10 years. Get clear about your growth goals and how they align to your business and brand goals. Your job is to evaluate the whole picture and lead from there.
2. Obsess Over Customer Satisfaction
Think about a founder’s first customers. That founder works tirelessly to create the best experiences and foster the most meaningful relationships with those customers – because they are key to the businesses’ success moving forward. Every customer should be approached with this kind of intent. As businesses grow their customer bases, it’s easy to lose sight of customer satisfaction. But it still matters – and arguably, even more. Your customers have the chance to be you biggest advocates or your largest hurdles. Obsess over their experiences, and grow a brand that people will continue to love.
3. Foster Loyal and Energized Employees
Now think about a founder’s first employees. They have to be the brand’s biggest advocates. The founder has to inspire and motivate them to rally behind his or her vision for the company and what the brand promises. There’s a reason why a company’s first employees are usually its most loyal employees. They take a risk joining a new business and are motivated to make sure it succeeds. You can make new employees – years and decades down the road – behave like your first. But to do so, you have to bring them along on the journey. Make them feel valued. Focus attention on inspiring and motivating them. Share your vision with them and support them in helping you make it a reality.
4. Say Bye to Bureaucracy
As businesses grow, bureaucracy can be one of the biggest growth hurdles. Red tape stunts innovation, creativity, collaboration, agility, and ultimately, growth. Adopting a founder’s mentality means you act as the key decision maker. Trust your gut, be strategic, ask for help when you need it, but don’t lose sight of your role as head decision maker. Take charge, take ownership, and take accountability for the decisions you make – that is your job.
5. Adopt an Owner’s Mindset: Be Bold
Founding a company takes guts. We know. When Emotive Brand’s founders decided to take the plunge and create Emotive Brand they were stepping out on a limb. They weren’t 100% sure they would succeed. Nor were they 100% sure of what the future held. But they were confident, bold, and not afraid to take a risk. Whether you’re the first CEO of a company or the hundredth, take on that same boldness. Embrace change, think differently, welcome uncertainty – growth won’t be possible without that kind of willingness.
Whether you’re a founder or not, adopting a founders’ mentality might be the difference between performing and outperforming your competitors. If you’re running into challenges with growth, or are just curious about how to approach leading your business during a period of high-growth, please reach out.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.