So what does it take to build a company that enjoys enormous and rapid growth?
Well, when asked to rank the single top reason for the success of their businesses, executives of current and past Inc. 5000 companies pointed to gaining, keeping, and growing customer relationships. In fact, this response was the runaway winner; 53 percent named it as a leading factor to their success. And it is no wonder. Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can rise above the competition. But what aspect of the customer experience is the most important? Well, the majority pointed specifically to customer service as the key to gaining, keeping, and growing customer relationships. Customer service includes every single interaction before, during, and after a purchase. Today, very few people tolerate lackluster services. In fact, 47% of customers reported that they would take their business somewhere else – within one day of a bad experience.
Another main reason? Hiring and retaining the right talent, which was cited by 37 percent of SMB business leaders. Those who focused on effective talent acquisition and management felt that their success in that area was due to their ability to create a company culture that attracted the right candidates for the right jobs at the right time. Culture trumps all.
But success cannot be attributed to one single thing. There is no “one size fits all” strategy. It takes effort, across a multitude of disciplines, to maintain fast growth. Therefore, when asked to combine their top three reasons for making the Inc. 5000 list, great sales and marketing was a top answer (41 percent). Next came the ability to scale (37 percent), suggesting that many SMB executives understand the importance of putting processes and infrastructure in place that can grow with the company. After all, grow that is not cost-effective is not growth at all. Coming in very closely in third place (with just under 37 percent), was having the right management team in place. One Inc. 5000 member noted that their growth arose from “the ability to align great people with great processes to meet the needs of the market.”
For the Inc. 5000, it all comes down to the power of three. Sales and customer satisfaction, hiring the retaining the right people, and the ability to scale.
But what were some of the other leading responses that fell easily into these three groupings? This included ability to read the market and responding nimbly (sales and customer satisfaction), building a larger and more qualified workforce (hiring / retaining the right people), and improved operations (ability to scale).