“Grow or perish”. It’s this enchanting illusion among entrepreneurs that all growth is inherently good, a sign of success and prosperity. As a founder scaling to new heights, you might have felt the thrill of initial success, it’s magical. But let’s pause for a second—because when your company’s size balloons to that 30-person mark, the enchantment can quickly turn into a sobering reality.
At Metavolve, we’ve seen this scenario play out time and again. The business seems to expand beyond expectations. It’s here, at this critical juncture, that you face a pivotal choice: continue to ride the wave of opportunistic growth and face the potential chaos that comes with it, or steer deliberately towards a future where growth is not just anticipated but masterfully orchestrated. Your business succeeding isn’t just about growth for the sake of growth; it’s about deliberate, strategic growth—growth that’s thought through, that makes sense, and that, above all, is sustainable.
As you read on, we’ll guide you through mastering the balance between seizing the right opportunities and maintaining control, ensuring that your business not only grows but evolves with intention.
The Illusion of Inherent Growth
You’ve experienced it—the thrill of success that seems to come naturally as you meet a deep-seated market need. It feels as if your business is suddenly growing by itself. But, this organic growth can be a double-edged sword. Without the proper structure and strategic foresight, what starts as a success story can quickly become an unmanageable beast.
The 30-Person Threshold
There’s a common milestone in the lifecycle of a startup: the 30-employee mark. It’s often here that the initial magic begins to wane. Systems that worked for a small, tight-knit team start to creak under the pressure of a larger operation. Communication breakdowns emerge, processes that once seemed fluid become cumbersome, and the founder’s direct influence diminishes. This stage demands more than opportunistic growth—it requires deliberate, strategic scaling.
The Seduction of Opportunity
With success comes a multitude of opportunities, each promising further growth. Yet, not every chance encounter with potential is beneficial in the long term. It’s easy to be seduced by the allure of expanding your offerings or entering new markets without fully understanding the strategic implications. This can lead to a dilution of your core strengths and a departure from what made your business successful in the first place.
The Consequence of Unchecked Growth
Unchecked growth can lead to complexity that outpaces management capability, and this is where the real challenge begins. Without strategic guidance, this complexity becomes a breeding ground for inefficiencies. The consequences extend far beyond the business–more complexity becomes a catalyst for founder burnout. This is terrible for anyone around them. For friends and family, you see a ghost of a loved one. For colleagues, you see an uninspiring and borderline incompetent leader. For clients and suppliers, you worry about whether you can trust the relationship with this founder and their business.
In this critical phase, it’s not about feeding the growth but about understanding it. It’s about discerning which opportunities align with your business’s core purpose and long-term vision. It’s time to look beyond opportunistic growth and to start sculpting your company’s expansion with the finesse of a magician—deliberate, controlled, and strategic.
What Healthy Deliberate Growth Looks Like
Deliberate growth is the art of painting your company’s future with intentional strokes. It’s the conscious decision to guide your company’s expansion not by chance, but by strategic choice. Here, we’ll explore how to harness the power of deliberate growth to create a sustainable and scalable business model.
A clear Market Positioning
The first step toward deliberate growth is about going back to the basics of the business. Are you and your team crystal-clear on your market positioning? Understanding the unique needs of your customers and how your offerings meet those needs is foundational. It’s about refining your market presence and ensuring that every growth step is in harmony with your customer’s evolving demands and your company’s capabilities.
A well-Documented Vision
Once you’re clear on your positioning, the next step is to formalise your vision. Documenting your business strategy isn’t just a one-off exercise—it’s a roadmap for you and your leadership team, a declaration of your future direction. Your vision should be so vivid at depicting how you see your business in the future that it becomes the compass that guides your every decision and communicates your intentions, both internally and to the broader market.
Analysed Growth Mechanisms
With a solid understanding of your market position and a documented vision, it’s time to evaluate the mechanisms for growth. Should you deepen your market penetration, expand into new territories, diversify your offerings, or perhaps consider strategic partnerships or acquisitions? Each path offers different rewards and carries different risks.
A trusted Leadership Team
We’ve talked about your business, your market and your opportunities, but have you asked yourself if you have the right team in place for deliberate growth? A strong leadership team can drive your core business, allowing you to focus on new growth avenues. Additionally, consider if you have the financial resources, operational capacity, and the right talent to support and sustain this growth.
Again, deliberate growth is not about capturing every opportunity that comes your way; it’s about capturing the right ones. It’s a strategic alignment of your market understanding, vision, and carefully weighed opportunities. This ensures your business scales not just with speed but with stability and predictability.
How to Navigate Growth Opportunities and Risks
Being an entrepreneur, especially a successful one, risk is like fuel in your engine. Without it you will run out of energy and crash. You literally need risk to feel alive. So when you have a successful core and more resources available to you, you probably think “surely I can do it again?” The answer is that you can, but the problem is that you underestimate the risk you’re undertaking. Just because you’re successful with a core business, doesn’t entitle you to success with a new growth strategy.
The Founder’s Dilemma: Attention and Focus
As you consider scaling, the very essence of your business – the core operations that are the heartbeat of your company – also demands reflection. The first thing you might be underestimating is how much time and attention it’s going to take from you to drive this new growth. What happens to the core business when your attention is elsewhere? Do you have the leadership team in place to successfully run and grow the business with little involvement from you as the founder?
Delegation and Talent Acquisition
Let’s say your leadership team is ready to be the custodians of your legacy while you gaze towards new horizons. What kind of people is it going to take to make this a successful growth strategy? Do they exist in your current roster, or do they lie beyond, waiting to be discovered and integrated into your vision? Can you recruit, onboard and train them to deliver the necessary customer experience to make this a sustainable business model? Do you have the cash and other resources available to make this growth strategy work?
Researching and Validating the Growth Strategy
Before you execute on any growth plan, make sure you’ve done the groundwork. The questions you ask today shape your business’s trajectory tomorrow. Consider:
In-depth Analysis: How extensively have you researched your proposed growth strategy? Does it stem from a surface-level hunch, or is it backed by thorough analysis?
Market Segmentation and Customer Needs: Have you pinpointed the exact market segment that aligns with your growth aspirations? What are the specific needs of these customers, and how does your offering aim to satisfy them?
Offering: Is there evidence that the market will not just welcome your offering but also continuously pay for it? Have you tested the waters, or are you diving in blindfolded?
Competitive Landscape: What does the competitive landscape look like in this segment that you’re targeting? Are you only considering direct rivals or are you also looking at supplier influence, customer bargaining power, potential new entrants, and possible substitutes to your offering?
Competitive Advantage: In light of your findings, how does your growth strategy make you more competitive? Is it just incremental, or does it significantly propel you forward in the market?
Exit Goals: Ultimately, how does this strategy align with your long-term goals? Does it get you closer to a viable exit point with terms that would make you happy to part ways with your shares in the business?
You see, it’s in not addressing these questions that founders get themselves into trouble. They underestimate the risks and don’t anticipate the consequences of their decisions because they aren’t clear in their thinking about their business strategy. Without clarity from the start, you’re almost certainly setting your business up for failure – especially if you’re beyond the 30-person mark. Having said that, clarity alone may not be good enough to find a sustainable business model – the strategy may just be wrong. That’s why it’s important that you work on both clarifying and testing your strategy as you lead your business to its next stage of existence.
Growth, when not anchored in strategy, can be a siren’s call—luring you into the depths of chaotic operations and unsustainable success.
If the thought of disciplined, deliberate growth excites you—if you’re ready to grow not just in size but in capability and influence—then let’s talk about how working with us can turn your company’s next chapter into a success story written with clarity and confidence. Contact our team today!