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Riding the arc of success in a growing company’s early days feels like a wild adventure, complete with triple-digit growth, big customer wins, and charging toward profitability at rocket speed. Accelerated growth speeds up as companies go through equity events. According to Stock Analysis, “There have been 5,093 IPOs between 2000 and 2021. The most were in the year 2020, with a total of 480 IPOs.” 2021 looks to be a year to set records, with around 400 companies already completing the IPO process this year by the end of March. Of course, there are many paths to revenue growth, but the IPO process serves as a bellwether for economic growth opportunities.
No matter how an organization funds its growth, as the company matures, there are several factors that determine if the business can scale and keep its customer focus. It seems intuitive, but many businesses can fall into the trap of losing focus on those who fuel revenue, cultural drive, and future growth — their customers.
Every entrepreneur has a responsibility to communicate and represent their organization’s focus, and these three areas are proven to help companies grow.
Define Your Purpose
Early in my career, I worked at an agency as was assigned to work on an account called Conservation International. Harrison Ford served as a supporter, and I had the opportunity to travel with several colleagues and meet him to discuss his work with the organization.
During the meeting, I was struck by how genuine he was and how committed he was to the purpose of the organization. I expected a celebrity but met a genuine person who supported Conservation International because he really believed in the organization’s mission. You can still see his work with the organization today.
Purpose can be a huge driver of growth. Workplace analysts at RedThread Research recently issued a study entitled The Purpose Driven Organization. In it, they define purpose as “a clear and concise statement that inspires people to deliver value to multiple stakeholders.” They further call it “the unifying philosophical compass that drives ‘why we do this.”
Once an organization defines its purpose, ensure it is represented across the company and on external channels. For example, when people come to our website, they immediately see the company exists to “help people improve their lives and advance their careers through exceptional healthcare learning.”
Purpose-driven organizations give employees something to align with and help customers build a relationship with the organization. Being clear about why you do what you do, and why that matters, is an essential part of growing your company.
Demonstrate Customer Commitment
Showing commitment to customers when times are good is a given, but how organizations live up to their promises to customers when times are hard is essential for growing trust and gaining lifelong customer relationships. In fact, the word “commitment” demonstrates a devotion for when times are good and bad.
Several years ago, when working for an up-and-coming software company, we faced a major issue that served as a reminder that customers not only drive revenue growth, serving them also drives company culture. This organization had grown quickly and had unparalleled Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for the industry. People literally loved this brand. End users often used terms like “love” and “delight” when referring to their experiences. Then, like many growing companies, we tried something our customers did not like.
In reality, our customers hated a proposed new approach to how we would use data to improve their experiences (we thought). The executive leadership team had carefully thought through the approach. We saw its potential and thought our customers would love it. We could not have been more wrong. A defensive response would be to dig in and try to explain to our customers why our approach was the right one. Luckily, we didn’t take that route. We were open enough to listen and to change course.
We served a unique group who knew what they needed, and our leadership demonstrated our commitment to customers by admitting when we were wrong, taking feedback, and providing value in the way the customer needed it, not the way we thought they would. Years later, I met an industry analyst who reminded me of that incident. He said, “That’s when I knew your company would go far and that was a moment that humanized your leadership team to me. That was when I knew I could trust your approach to our market.”
Neither our customers nor our employees forgot that moment, and doing right by our customers became a core to who we were and everything we did. When your workplace can see and believe in your customer commitment, workplace magic can happen.
Provide Increasing Value
Finally, no matter what you make or what service you provide, human nature means customer confidence can erode over time. By focusing on meeting the future needs of customers through product innovation, partnerships, or additional services, companies can extend the life of their customer relationships and increase satisfaction levels. For example, our training organization has offerings for learners to receive mentoring throughout their programs and then works diligently to cultivate relationships with hiring partners so our learners can connect with potential employers when the time is right.
By extending the customer lifecycle and focusing on meeting needs beyond the initial offering, we have found ways to deepen relationships and provide extended value. That’s why we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people change their lives through education.
When an organization’s value centers around its purpose, and its innovation and development focus on the needs of the customer, providing expanded opportunities along the way, a company sets itself apart from the competition and on a path to scalable growth.