The UK government recently launched the “Growth Accelerator” scheme designed to provide targeted support to high growth companies. The package includes coaching, access to finance support and matched funding towards leadership and management training.
Currently, just 16.6% of growth-oriented businesses in the UK are women-owned, according to Delta Economics Challenges and Opportunities for Growth and Sustainability (COGS) study.The research shows that when they do grow, there is no difference in their growth expectations, actual business growth, job creation or turnover per employee.
Your attitude to growth
Answer the following questions to assess if you are oriented towards achieving high growth for your business:
1. Do you desire to be rich, challenge yourself, gain personal satisfaction and more profits?
2. Do you think running a business is a way to gain financial security for you and your family, and enables you to accommodate other life priorities?
3. Do you tend to avoid external funding to grow your business, only taking on debt when necessary?
4. Do you think that the main obstacles to business growth are competitors, personal managerial skills, inability to hire qualified employees and gaining access to the “Old Boys Network”?
5. Is your motivation to run a business to gain sustainable income, for family and personal security?
6. Would you describe being an entrepreneur as a key part of your personal identify?
7. Do you see debt as a tool that can be used to achieve your end goals?
8. Do you think that key obstacles to achieving your goals are: your personal background, level of training, family responsibilities, and access to bank financing?
If you answered YES to questions 1, 4, 6 and 7 then you are more likely to be oriented towards high growth. If you responded YES to questions 2, 3, 5, and 8 then you are more likely to be focused towards moderate growth. These characteristics were identified by some research that differentiated between high growth and moderate growth women entrepreneurs. (The Dilemma of Growth: Understanding Venture Size Choices of Women Entrepreneurs, Journal of Small Business Management (2006) vol. 44, no. 2.)
The Mindset for High Growth
The issue of mindset and approach is a key differentiator in what drives those who have a desire to build high-growth businesses. It’s not for everyone, as it does require a trade off between:
- short vs. long term
- work vs. life balance
- short term financial gain vs. the longer term impact they want to make in the world.
In the Growth Story, the book profiling successful growth strategies used by women entrepreneurs, Polly Gowers, founder of Everyclick is featured. Her online fundraising technology business raised over £7million of investment to finance the development of the technology, Give as you Live™.
Polly took a decision to retain less than 10% of the equity because she could see that for the longer term potential of the business to be achieved at a global level, it would require substantial investment. Giving away equity in return for investment is something that many women business owners are reluctant to do. But, as Polly says, “owning a percentage of a business with a great idea that goes nowhere is worthless”.
The question of work-life balance can also be a decision that high growth business owners make. Initially, Polly Gowers worked extremely long hours to get her business of the ground. But the birth of her daughter brought about a change in Polly’s approach to work. She now takes weekends off.
As you consider whether you are oriented towards high growth for your business, you could use the 10-10-10 decision-making tool that Suzy Welch talks about in her book of the same name. What difference will this action make in the next 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years? By considering the short as well as long term implications of how you proceed with your business, it can help you assess whether you are prepared to do what it takes to build a high growth venture.
Sue Stockdale’s latest book The Growth Story – Successful Business Growth Strategies Used by Women Entrepreneurs is now available from Amazon.