The 3 CEO challenges of growthMar 22, 2016
We are growing. Over the last three years, our company showed a year-over-year revenue growth of 20% and good profitability. It's the result of an organic growth, made possible by the hard work from a dedicated group of people. As CEO and owner, I want our growth to be sustainable and healthy. And it is: it is based on new product revenue and recurring contracts. It proves that we have surpassed the stage of startup many years ago. We are now in full scaleup mode!
But a growth rate like this also brings challenges.
In the beginning, when in startup mode with a small team, the company culture is more intrinsic. You don't explicitly think about company culture, it is just there. And it is not so difficult for new team members to get a feel of the company. The team is so small that the culture spreads automatically.
It is only when starting to expand the team in a small timeframe and performing many new hires, that maintaining a company culture gets challenging. The culture needs to be made explicit.
It took us a while to understand that what is obvious to us, is not obvious to outsiders at all. No one could really describe our company culture. We all felt it was there – inevitably – and we could describe it more or less. But is wasn't explicit. What is important to us when you want to work here? What are the core competencies you need? So we did a company-wide exercise. Small groups had to pick 5 core competencies out of 40, independently of each other. And guess what: all groups ended up with 3 or 4 of the same competencies. This way, we made our company culture explicit.
This process made us realize how important it is to really pinpoint these competencies and our culture and how this can support us when hiring the right people.
The skills you need as a startup are not the same as the skills you need as a scale-up.
During startup phase it is more about pioneering. Keeping everything under control. Which you can, since you work in a small team. You know each and every person and you are aware of even the smallest decision or problem. When you get bigger, you need to rely more on other people. You need to hire people that are better than you at things. Bring in outside expertise. It helps you to get to the next level.
Teams keep evolving and growing. Because every level brings new challenges that you might have never faced before and that require new expertise.
As a result, we have different job postings on our website. Make sure to check them out on our job page.
We are a product company and a challenge for most product companies is that they typically don't have that much contact with their customers. In our case, the opposite is true. Our professional services team is involved in a lot of customer projects by means of integration work, deployment, coaching and more. We have great product consultants, with top knowledge about customer communications management and how our customers can provide a better customer experience to their users. Since we need to deliver more and more projects, the professional services team needs to grow as well. And that requires a new approach in professional services too. For that reason we hired Jim Verbist as our new Professional Services Manager. Jim has a lot of experience with applying structured procedures in a pragmatic way.
I am convinced that Jim's onboarding will help us serve our customers even better than we did in the past. We will become even more intimate with them. Welcome Jim!