Buzzwords in business come and go, the lexicon is filled with terms that have gone from ubiquity to obscurity in a matter of months. However, some words endure because they capture an essential truth about the nature of business and ‘hypergrowth’ is one of those concepts that is here to stay.
What is Hypergrowth?
Allegedly first coined in the Harvard Business Review in 2008, the word is used to refer to ‘the steep part of the S-curve that most young markets and industries experience at some point, where the winners get sorted from the losers’. What it seeks to differentiate between is the incremental development we traditionally associate with steady business growth and a particular phenomenon that sees massive exponential growth transforming a company beyond recognition. The World Economic Forum defined it as achieving a compound annual growth rate of 40% or higher, in contrast to rapid growth which is between 20% and 40%, and normal growth which is below 20%.
To understand the concept better, it helps to consider a few well-known exemplars of this process. An obvious one is Netflix, whose mail-order DVD rental model shifted with the innovation of streaming so that it is now a major producer of film and TV content. Uber followed a similar trajectory and the most recent instance of the hypergrowth phenomenon is the rise of Zoom, which grew from a base of 400,000 users in its first month to 10 million two years later. When the pandemic hit this figure rocketed to 300 million daily participants.
Priorities for Hypergrowth
So how can you achieve hypergrowth? Above all, you need to be prepared. Your management team needs to be capable of the immense, rapid scalability required to ride the wave. An inability to meet the sudden challenges and turn them to your advantage can mean that hypergrowth actually destroys the company.
The growth of any business generally follows a similar pattern, from identifying a need in the market, to establishing a viable business model and turning it into a profitable enterprise. Hypergrowth, if it is going to happen, generally does so at this stage, once product-market-fit has been achieved.
One of the essential ingredients lies in that often-used phrase ‘customer-focused. Growth must remain your central ambition but it can only be achieved by consistently providing a product or a service that customers not only need but grow to love until they simply can’t manage without it. If you can sustain yourself through periods of unprofitability while you maneuver yourself into this position, so much the better. But the absolute commitment to delivering the optimum customer experience is crucial.
With hypergrowth comes the need for significant investment in resources including marketing and personnel but you need to keep a tight rein on these so that costs don’t rise faster than your revenue. It’s also vital to remain strategic so that the pursuit of ever-higher revenue doesn’t blind you to the need for forward planning including a constant search for better value and product offers for your customers. Technology is one important area where scrimping to save for today could limit your capabilities tomorrow.
Naturally, scalability is always going to be a challenge. A start-up business culture can provide a wonderfully liberated informal environment but sustaining this once hypergrowth kicks in is unrealistic and could end up working against your success. Think ahead, plan, anticipate and prepare.
If your business is in a position to pursue a hypergrowth strategy then you need to be aware that it is a difficult process fraught with danger. At Coltech we have witnessed both successes and failures. Our experience in helping companies realise this kind of growth makes us uniquely qualified to advise on avoiding the pitfalls and reaching the pinnacles. We put enormous emphasis on the customer imperative in the context of a holistic overview that assesses where you are now and what precise steps you need to be taking to ride that wave successfully.
Why not explore our website, coltech.io, or contact us for a free consultation on the best strategies for scaling up fast?
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