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5 Pillars for Growth


By Douglas Zeisel, Managing Partner, TCV Growth Partners - Preparing a company to scale up its growth is a daunting task and requires a lot of skill, knowledge, and effort. At some point you may have written a great business plan that addresses your markets, your competitive positioning, a go to market strategy and more, but it’s quite another undertaking to implement a successful growth strategy.


Why? Because as Mike Tyson said- “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”


Let’s face it, the business plan you wrote was a best case scenario created to blow the socks off potential investors. It was a theoretical construct based on research and a logical progression of ideas. But until you are able to implement the plan, it’s just a plan, nothing more.


So what does it take to achieve sustainable growth? TCV Growth Partners created a program called SCALEUP MarylandTM [1] that addresses 5 pillars of creating a successful growth strategy. And while our program borrows from many of the basics of creating a successful business plan, there are significant differences. Let’s review these 5 pillars.


Leadership – While your business plan had a section that discussed the founders and their qualifications to run a business, it does little to inform how you will actually lead your dream enterprise. There are many aspects of leadership that you need to master to achieve success. These include communicating effectively, creating a sound culture, managing accountability, conveying your values and vision, and much more. Does your team know what is expected of them? Are they in alignment with your vision? Growing a business requires leadership that addresses these issues.


Marketing – All well-developed business plans articulate a go to market strategy based on a thorough assessment of the market(s) into which your products or services will be sold. But when was the last time you assessed your market? Are there new competitors, new methods of delivering similar products or services? Has the technological landscape changed the way buyers are conducting their businesses and finding similar products? Let’s face it, in today’s internet world, the way you buy a car, a house, or even a meal is rapidly changing. Are you keeping up? Do you have a digital strategy? Have you interviewed your customers lately to understand their wants and needs? Be sure you are in market alignment!


Sales – This is where the rubber hits the road! If you are leading your company well and have an up to date marketing strategy, then your sales team understands who their target customers are, what they need, and why your company’s offerings are a better choice. But business plans rarely articulate how to fill a sales funnel, how to qualify leads, or how to close a sale. You need to ensure your team is well trained and well equipped to compete in the marketplace. Do they have the all knowledge and tools necessary? Do they have the technology they need to track prospects thru to a close? And, once a deal is closed, who tracks customer satisfaction? As leader of the company, you need to ensure that your sales team is knowledgeable about your markets and your competition, and you need to make sure they have all the tools necessary to be successful.


Finance – Unfortunately, many companies confuse finance with accounting and bookkeeping. And accounting and bookkeeping are often relegated to a “need to do” for tax reasons or reporting to outside entities. But the fact is that the best run companies incorporate finance into all aspects of operations. Is your company going beyond the basic necessities required for external reporting? Do you prepare and monitor budgets to catch unexpected expenses and provide accountability to various departments? Are costs monitored to ensure your products or services are properly priced? Do you have a system of metrics that allows you to set goals and monitor success? Are you tracking and forecasting cash flow? Do you have a financial toolkit?


It is wise to have someone heading up this department to help with vital functions such as creating and monitoring budgets, monitoring costs to ensure contracts are properly priced, maintaining banking relationships, and helping to create and monitor vital company metrics. You should have a CFO, even if they are not full time.


Operations – Any business plan you created would have discussed operations as a theoretical construct that needs to be turned into day to day reality. If you are implementing a sound growth strategy, your operations will reflect your leadership and the structure you have put in place to manage all business functions. A simple org chart is a good place to start. Does your org chart reflect reality? Do different departments communicate with each other? Are there regular team meetings to discuss progress on various initiatives? Do department heads understand what is expected of them? Do you have a system of metrics to allow rewards for success and ensure accountability? Do the heads of each department also have metrics to measure success and drive accountability? Have you set goals for each department? Operations melds together all the other pillars of a successful growth company. Be sure your ops reflect sound pillars of growth.


Ensuring that a company successfully scales up revenues in a profitable manner without running out of cash is no easy task. Are you ready? If you would like an assessment of your readiness for growth, contact Doug@TechComVentures for an appointment.


[1] SCALEUP Maryland is a 16 week program hosted by bwtech@UMBC and funded by the TRowe Price Foundation and the Maryland Department of Commerce

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