It is a tale as old as time. You have put word to deed and taken action, laying your nose to the grindstone and putting in the work to gather the vital funds you need to forge ahead and accomplish your dreams. You have officially completed that big round of fundraising.
And you didn’t stop there—you followed that fundraising up with action: taking that giant leap and launching a new product or service offering that has become wildly popular. It’s your time to lift your face to the sun and enjoy the moment, right? Wrong.
Welcome to the realm of hypergrowth. Now that you have navigated the hurdles of initiating a startup, the real work—enriching and expanding that revenue magic—is just beginning. So, are you ready to lead a hypergrowth-stage company into the future? Answering the following three questions will help you not only gauge your preparedness, but help you get to where you need to be as the fearless leader your company needs to keep moving forward, onward, and upward.
1. What Is The Object of Your Obsession?
You’ve most likely heard of the famous adage “the object of your affection.” I am offering my take on it, as leadership is about obsession. The word obsession is loosely defined as an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. And this is exactly what investors are looking for when they are seeking a CEO to back. They want a leader who is obsessed with anything and everything that will ensure success, from putting out fires by creative problem-solving to serving customers and enabling employees, and everything in between.
Since you have made it so far already (to the point of being poised for hypergrowth), it is clear that you already have the passion and dedication (read: obsession) to align your team around a clear mission. However, hypergrowth is a whole new world—one where things can quickly change, and there are not always road maps or clearly defined paths to success.
There will be tons of growth in a short amount of time, bringing in a wealth of new and ever-changing dynamics to juggle. As you invariably begin to be pulled in a million different directions and are forced to don more and more hats above your previous CEO role, the one thing that needs to remain stable is your obsession. And more importantly, ensuring that your employees (all of them, as they continue to multiply) are on board and share that same obsession: solving problems and serving people. Consider your obsession your company’s mantra—your proverbial North Star. Chant it daily, be led by it, and measure every decision against it.
2. What Will It Take for Me to Evolve As a Leader?
If your approach to hypergrowth is overly confident—bordering on complacency—you are in big trouble already. I cannot stress this enough: Complacency is the most common curse of hypergrowth.
Simply put: If you aren’t constantly pushing yourself, learning, and evolving as a leader, you cannot expect your company, including your employees, to grow. You need to evolve from being a doer to being a leader. And this evolution includes being (sometimes painfully) honest about your limitations and shortcomings. It is only in this way that you can pave the way for a free and safe space for open and honest communication throughout the entire ranks of your company, one where every employee feels equally able to be similarly candid. This includes federating an intimacy with board members, not just building business relationships.
Bottom Line: The chaos that inevitably comes with hypergrowth can be the catalyst that propels you forward, but only if it is navigated properly. The moment you think that you already have it all figured out, the battle is just beginning.
3. Moving Forward toward My Hyper-Growth Goals, What Must I Shed?
It’s a harsh truth. Growth of any kind never follows a simple, straightforward trajectory. Hypergrowth is no different. One of the complicated twists and turns accompanying hypergrowth is that when you experience expansion at such an intensity, you simply won’t be able to “take everything with you” as you evolve.
For example, when first launching your startup, you may have had the luxury of sitting down face to face with every customer and employee regularly. As your outlet grows at lightning speed, you will quickly realize this is simply not an option anymore. At that moment, you will need to figure a creative way to keep everyone informed and engaged as you expand. It comes down to sustainable growth, evolving while still maintaining that core obsession we spoke of above.
This is just one example of things that you will need to shed. Bottom line: you must adapt and thrive, or you will wither on the vine. So be bold. Be obsessed. Be organized. Be willing to grow.