When examining what makes high-growth companies so successful, we frequently refer to one of the largest and most rigorous performance benchmarking studies ever prepared on the middle market, “The Market That Moves America” performed by The National Center for the Middle Market, Ohio State University in March 2011, which measured 2,048 US businesses.
Taking this a step further, The National Center for the Middle Market released its Blueprint for Growth: Middle Market Growth Champions Reveal a Framework for Success, produced in collaboration with Fisher College of Business and GE Capital, in 2012.
Blueprint for Growth explored: which forces enable one company to succeed and surpass another? And how are these forces managed? These questions can be particularly hard to answer for Middle Market firms that are facing special issues, such as a lower number of resources compared to larger companies.
Rather than company size, industry type, ownership structure or location being the pivotal factor, Blueprint for Growth clearly identifies six qualities that growth firms tend to strongly reflect:
1. A formal growth strategy process. These exceptional companies will set strategic goals on an annual basis, communicate these goals internally, and then carefully track their progress.
2. Focus on innovation. Growth companies seek out and invest in products and services that help them succeed.
3. Exceptional talent management. Not only do growth companies have the recruiting power to attract top talent, they reward their employees as well.
4. Sharper customer focus. Growth companies are more successful in attracting new customers, and retaining and strengthening the ones they have in place.
5. Strong management culture. Operating efficiently and withstanding external challenges are well within the operating team’s capabilities.
6. A broader geographic vision. Rather than focusing locally and regionally, growth companies look globally.
The Six Qualities for Growth are not only for the high-growth firms; marginal growers can also adopt these qualities and rise incrementally. CEOs and senior executives across various industries can reflect upon their firm’s capabilities in each of the six growth areas:
1. How well do you set growth targets, and also communicate these internally and then track progress?
2. Do you allocate and protect funding for innovation? How could you improve innovation and new ideas at your company?
3. How can you better position your company against competitors to gain top talent?
4. How can your company increase its ability to bring on new clients?
5. How do the leadership skills of your management team meet today’s global challenges?
6. Do you look at markets outside your region for opportunity?
Focusing on the Six Qualities for Growth is a good place to start, when it comes to growing your company. Even incremental steps in a few of the growth areas can pay off and make a substantial difference.
For more information on the study, please visit the National Center for the Middle Market.