How to protect your business from explosive growth

By Bernard Jansen

Not all entrepreneurs struggle for sales. Some panic because things are going too well.

  • Sales are growing exponentially.
  • New branches are opening up.
  • Regional expansion is taking place.
  • More staff are coming on board.
  • The phones are ringing, clients are queuing.

Now what?

Instead of struggling to get things off the ground, owners in this position struggle to keep things together. A weird place to be.

Crucially the question is, “what is the role of marketing in this high growth environment?” You’d think it is the last thing the entrepreneur should worry about. But it’s not. Marketing is probably the only thing that can help a high growth business keep together.

You see, there are two types of marketing. External marketing, aimed at getting buy-in from customers, and internal marketing, aimed at getting buy-in from employees. Both are built on top of a distinctive brand.

When your business is small, you rely on your physical presence to keep things together. You are the brand. But at some point the business will outgrow you. No longer will you be able to keep a personal eye on everything. You lose direct control.

It is at this point that you want your personal vision, values and mission transferred onto a corporate brand that represents your ideals, even when you are not around. It is a marketing discussion that focusses on selling the business to itself and builds a culture that reflects the way you want things done.

The problem is that most entrepreneurs leave internal brand building too late because they are too operationally focused during the startup years and view marketing, including the crucial task of brand building, as a money sucking nuisance really.

Marketing is not just a discussion about growing sales with customers. It is also a discussion about achieving internal alignment, through employee buy-in. It is probably the most important marketing discussion a young business should have.

Ultimately a well defined company brand becomes the glue that keeps it all together. Just ask Google, which started as a two man show 17 years ago and became the biggest company in the world by market cap this past week.

Image credit: Flickr