The term is rare among buzzwords because it has a clear definition. It’s liberally applied to success stories like Buzzfeed but it is measurable in terms of Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). Business analysists recognise three modes of growth: normal represents a CAGR of up to 20%, rapid is 20% to 40% and hypergrowth is anything in excess of 40%
Although the term is more commonly applied to start-ups, whose swift expansion makes the best headlines, it is a phenomenon that can be experienced at any stage in the lifetime of a business.
There are several good reasons for businesses to pursue hypergrowth. Apart from the obvious ones of increased profits and return on investment, a company undergoing this kind of business growth is immensely attractive to talented candidates, venture capitalists and other investors. After all, success breeds success and everyone wants to be in on the action.
However, it isn’t all plain sailing. Unless a business is fully prepared for the stresses and pressures that frequently accompany this kind of expansion, the experience can be overwhelming, leading to over-trading, over-reaching and in extreme cases, collapse. If you are a candidate with your eyes fixed firmly on a job that offers a reliable career path within the context of business growth then you need to make some careful assessments before accepting a role within a hypergrowth.
Most commentators agree that there are three or four essential considerations. Quality and marketability of the product or service are requirements we can take for granted, but three other areas need to be addressed: scalability, technology and talent. Before you leap, this is where you need to look.
Those companies which are brought down by breakneck growth are usually the ones who do not have strategies in place to anticipate its extraordinary pressures. It’s possible to scale too early, but when the wave of growth hits, scaling too slowly can be disastrous. A company needs a sound and consistent financial basis as well as a company-wide dedication to the mission.
In looking at any potential employer, do your research. Sustainability is essential, which means having resources in place such as personnel, digital assets, technology and funding to weather any potential storms.
Experience has shown that companies need to embed in their culture a readiness to respond to market changes and challenges. This adaptability is common amongst companies whose scaling has paid off. It is also important in this context to keep to a simple business model. The more complex a company’s governance, and its command and supply chains, the more compromised its agility will be.
During the recruitment process you should take every opportunity to explore these issues. The most obvious time to do this is during the interview process, but it is also possible to research the firm independently using online resources, social media and even by speaking directly with current employees. An employer comfortable with their policies should have no problem in facilitating this and answering relevant questions you may have.
Arguably, digital technology has sparked the biggest change in business practice since the industrial revolution. Companies can now innovate, disrupt and break into new markets with a speed and reach previously regarded as impossible. At the same time, new technologies are enabling cost savings, administrative simplification and instant communication.
You need to satisfy yourself that any company you are considering joining demonstrates a receptive attitude to technology and has the best tech teams in place to exploit it. Don’t hesitate to question potential employers about their attitude to the scaling upwards or horizontally of their technological resources.
None of this intense growth can be achieved without the right talent. You have as much to offer the employer as they can offer you. Try to get an idea of the company’s long-term recruitment plans and policies. Your own experience will tell you a lot, but there are useful questions to be asked about internal attitudes to diversity and inclusion as well as provision for a talent pool. You need to know you are entering an environment in which you will be supported by high-caliber colleagues with their numbers easily augmented as the company continues to grow.
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