The Four Things That Matter When You’re After Hyper-Growth
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Focus and perseverance are basic requirements for founders who want hyper-growth. You need to know where to effectively spend your time and energy, and then stick with it through the inevitable ups and downs. But staying focused on the right things can be difficult as your business grows and distractions start to pull your attention elsewhere.
In a recent conversation with Pilot co-founder and CEO Waseem Daher, Sujay Jaswa, a co-founder and managing partner at WndrCo, shared the four areas where he thinks you need to focus if you want to achieve hyper-growth.
“Whenever you start moving outside that circle of things, and you start allocating your time, and your organization’s time, and your executive team’s time, I think that’s where you get in real trouble,” says Jaswa. So, what are the four?
1. Make a great product
The first is also the most basic and obvious—focus on your product or service. Finding a product-market fit can be difficult, but it’s also vital. And even after an initial success, continual communication with customers could help you stay focused on their needs and wants, which could help you scale in a sustainable way.
New ideas will almost certainly surface, and you don’t necessarily need to be so focused that you never pivot or layer-on additional offerings. But evaluate these based on the specific opportunity and your capacity as a founder.
2. Build a following
Don’t get stuck in the “if you build it they will come” trap. You might have a unique and desirable solution to a real problem, but you still need to focus on marketing and sales.
“I can’t say it enough, sell your own product as a founder,” says Daher. “Doing the sales yourself lets you be a periscope into the world—you learn about what customers like, what they don’t like, what messaging resonates with them, etc.”
You can use that knowledge to further develop your offering, attract and retain customers, and earn referrals. If you hire a sales rep right away and they’re not closing, you might have to spend extra time trying to figure out the root issue.
“Once the machine is working, you’ll think to bring in someone else,” adds Daher. But even after you hire and expand your sales team, try not to lose touch with the customer insights that tell you what’s working and how you can grow.
3. Develop an awesome team
Hyper-growth means lots of hiring. Many top-level candidates will be able to find a better cash offer elsewhere, but they may be open to interviewing with your startup if you can sell them on your unique opportunity. Here are three things you could do to garner interest:
- Explain the equity offering. You might be able to discuss several scenarios to help them understand their potential earnings without promising a specific valuation.
- Invest in your employer brand. Check and update the information about your company that candidates will find online, both on your website and on social media platforms.
- Show how you live your mission and values. Go beyond taglines to share stories and examples of how your company and team members put your values into action.
Additionally, a clear and high-touch hiring process can go a long way to improving the candidate experience. Even after you hire a head of talent or bring in an outside recruiter, you want to dedicate time to recruiting. While the person or team will take over sourcing and initial interviews, founders can play a critical role in closing.
4. Have capital to keep things going
You don’t need to raise money to have a successful company. After all, there are many examples of bootstrapped successes. But hyper-growth requires fundraising.
Knowing how to talk to investors and fundraise is an important skill—one that becomes even more important when VC money isn’t flowing as freely. If you’re not confident in your fundraising, finding a mentor or bringing on someone who can help with pitches may be a smart move.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to build a money-making business rather than just extending your runway. Focusing on effective resource management and investing in the areas of your business that will help it grow can be especially important when there’s limited access to additional capital.
You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) go at it alone
Startups need to be able to do it all—build a product, sell it, recruit new hires, and fundraise. But founders don’t have to do it alone.
“The biggest hack here is finding people who are complementary to you,” says Jaswa. Having founders and executives who bring different strengths to the table lets each person concentrate on what they do best.
At the same time, successful founders are continually learning as they prepare to lead their company into the next stage of growth. As your company’s needs change, figuring out which responsibilities to share with someone else and which ones to take on (and become an expert at) yourself becomes a crucial part of the job.
If you want to learn about leading a fast-growing startup, check out the recorded sessions from the recent Founder Tactics conference. Subject matter experts from Sequoia, WndrCo, and Greylock shared their insider perspectives on topics that founders truly care about.