Variety is the spice of life as the adage goes, and that’s exactly what we see in the Growth Business ‘Top 50 Rising Stars of 2019 in the UK’ list.
Studies show that just a small minority of start-ups scale to produce the all-important levels of employment needed to respond to what the Global Economic Forum has described as the number one concern in most societies – job creation and prosperity.
Ask any person who is unemployed what they miss, and the common response follows the theme of how central work is to their wellbeing, the income always helps and for those in work how this bring broader social and economic advancement, and it gives strength to individuals, their families and communities.
So all power to those companies on the ‘Top 50 Rising Stars of 2019 in the UK’ list whether high tech or low tech: the entrepreneurs behind them are critical to the wellbeing of society because they give economic meaning to the science or business idea that lies behind the business.
I speak about variety because the most notable feature about the list is that there is a relatively low proportion that are pure technology companies.
However, the top five companies on the Rising Stars 2019 list have grown turnover by an average of 1,447 per cent over the last five years – a fantastic achievement.
“The broad cross section of markets that these high growth companies address gives the clear message that the quality of management is critical to success – it’s not just the product that counts”
This is a message we often hear from investors who laud those with whom they gel and risk their money is that the entrepreneur is investable. So what do these investors see that takes them beyond the product?
How to grow a company successfully
Strong sales is the first consideration but behind that investors see the entrepreneurial skills that drive high growth. Despite relatively few of the high growth companies being at the tech end of the spectrum there is no doubt that whatever they are offering to the market will be underpinned by a technology that helps owners develop important management practices that keep them growing.
The drive generally comes from the top where it’s essential that the owners develop effective working relationships with their team and with those that advise the company.
Strong and balanced founders are key
Looking back at our experience, one of the common factors in high growth companies is how they have two balanced founders:
- one looks inwards to ensure all of the business systems necessary
- the other keeps an all-important eye on the market.
When combined effectively this ensures that all parts of the business have a champion to ensure they are well organised and they have the necessary common ambition to achieve growth.
We have found that seamless technology systems enable senior managers to delegate effectively. Yet it’s all too common among static and slow growth companies that management teams find it hard to delegate because they don’t have faith in their team to deliver on their vision.
To grow a company you need to assemble a team with the right skill set and competences; building on these to secure the right investors that bring added value to the enterprise and then adding to this level of competences by creating the right business relationship which can support the company before they can take functions in house.
The all-important entrepreneurial flair to see beyond an existing market and see how their product can deliver a promise to new customers in new markets is also crucial yet quantifying this market is not easy.
There is help out there through business planning tools but the real talent for interpreting this sits with the entrepreneur.
There seems no limit to the imagination of the entrepreneur but the real test is that the best entrepreneurs only solve problems that stop them getting to the money not solving problems because they are of interest.
To be successful, entrepreneurs should stick to the basics and focus on running the business.
Dr Malcolm Parry OBE is Managing Director and CEO of The Surrey Research Park which hosts over 140 companies.